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Friday, July 20, 2012

Foliage Follow-Up July 2012

FFU_July 2012
Well...since I was late for Bloom Day, of course, I'm also late for Foliage Follow-Up. I decided this month to focus on one particular plant that has caught my fancy, Pennisetum 'Vertigo'.

Like SO MANY of my plants, I first discovered this on Nan Ondra's blog Hayefield last year. I've always liked the dark-leaved Pennisetums, but wasn't quite tempted enough to plant a $16 annual every year (yes, they almost always seemed to be that expensive at nurseries around town).

Pennisetum vertigo
Pennisetum 'Vertigo' soon after planting in May
For some reason, however, seeing this arresting plant in Nan's garden struck a nerve, and I knew I had to find it! I searched online and finally found an online seller, Garden Crossings, who had it...of course, for $16 per plant! That brings me to one important point about this plant...it's techincally hardy to Zone 8...so I should be able to overwinter these. That's what make the difference for me...I can't bring myself to spend that much on a plant I know will die at the end of the year...but for a plant that might come back...well, that I can do!

Pennisetum Vertigo
'Vertigo' in June
The plants arrived this spring, and I was extremely impressed with the quality of the plants...big, vigorous and well-packed. I would hearitly recommend this retailer to others, based on this one experience. I planted them in some galvanized pots (from IKEA...home of the inexpensive container), watered them and stood back.

Pennisetum Vertigo
'Vertigo' on July 6
As Nan mention on her blog, 'Vertigo' kind of grows "out" before it grows "up". It sort of spreads out a bit, then starts really putting on height. Also, the coloring really didn't start to darken until July or so...but now is fabulous. Depending on the light, it can seem reddish-brown, greenish-black, or jet-black.

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'Vertigo' this week
So, while I found it to be pleasant enough for the past few months, since the beginning of July it has really seemed to take off...and is now quite stunning. I love how it provides such a dominant focal point at the corners of the garden. I debated planting them in the garden, rather than in pots, but decided that if I really ended up liking them by the time fall rolls around, I can move them into the backyard (which is more shleltered) to help them overwinter.

vertigo  1917
So, here it is this week...and I'm wondering just how big and bold it's going to become in the next few months. For more posts celebrating fabulous foliage, Head over to Digging, hosted by the always-inspiring, Pam Penick!

55 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I would not only try over-wintering it, but I'd be hacking away at it getting "starts" too!

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  2. I can see why you like it so much. Yes, $16 is a lot for an annual, but I bet you can overwinter it. If so, it will probably get twice as large next year!

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    1. I hope so, Zoey...although then I'll definitely need bigger pots!

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  3. Oooh, I must have at least one of these next year!

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  4. Oh, I just lost an hour over at Nan's blog--great stuff! I love the extra presence that grass has in a pot. I'm definitely putting this on my shopping list.

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    1. OMG, I know, Heather, Nan's blog is probably my biggest single source of plant obsessions. You can't toss a piece of mulch in my garden without hitting a plant I was inspired to purchase because of Nan's blog!

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  5. The galvanized pot was a fantastic choice, Scott, and your placement of the dark foliage against those softer colors is brilliant. I hope you have good luck overwintering your Vertigo. I dug one clump last fall, plunked it in a plastic bag, and was able to overwinter it in my basement (about 40 degrees) last winter. It took a while to resprout this spring but has grown quickly since then. At the rate this grass bulks up, you should be able to get plenty of divisions for next year.

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    1. I'll have to try that division trick. That's what I do with my bougainvilleas.

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    2. Thanks for the advice, Nan! I will definitely try that (it's too pretty to risk it dying). I definitely want to try dividing it...so I can share with others too..it's so gorgeous!

      Greggo...definitely!

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  6. This is one gorgeous plant and new to me! I am in love with the greener leaves growing out with the darker ones being more erect. It creates its own spectacular contrast. Heading over to Hayefield to see if I can pre-order a couple for spring. Thanks for sharing the plant and the source!

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    1. I agree...it's sort of bizarre, but very beauttiful!

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  7. Oh, I love the dark-leaved Pennisetums too, but like you, can't justify spending so much on something that will either die outright, or just come back so pathetically that it might as well have died (I have a 'Fireworks' that did that this year). This one looks like a great plant, and I've considered buying from Garden Crossings in the past, but haven't. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. I know how you feel...I'm definitely going to try to over-winter this one...by divisions and by protecting the bulk in these pots in our backyard (which is solidly Zone 9).

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  8. I love the contrast of the foliage in your Vertigo. You might be able to overwinter it in a garage or basement...worth a try. Annual or not-sometimes you just have to treat yourself-enjoy!

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    1. Definitely worth a try...I totally agree...wish me luck!

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  9. I also love that mix of dark red and green. Sady, I'm in zone 5, but maybe I can overwinter it in the basement.

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    1. I bet you can...it seems people have had luck with other varieties of these grasses...it's worth a try at least, right?

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  10. Oh wow! That's a beauty. Beautiful dark coloration. Heading over to Three Neat Plants now. Thanks for the link.

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    1. Have fun...visiting Nan's blog can be VERY dangers for the purse strings ;-)

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  11. Gorgeous, especially in the silver pot. Is it an annual or a tender grass, do you know? That might be worth it if you have a greenhouse.

    Here is how I justify the cost of a plant. Divide how many months of enjoyment I get out of it, into the cost of the plant. 4 months at 4 dollars a month. Not so bad, for such enjoyment. I spend more on my lattes and those are gone in an instant!

    What is this foliage followup?

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    1. It's a tender grass, for sure...but is supposed to be hardy here in Portland (Zone 8). You are so right about the cost! I don't know why I sometimes get hung up on stuff like that (and your're right, I spend as much on coffee already)! Foliage Follow-up is a blog meme hosted by Pam Penick...the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day...a celebration of foliage :-)

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  12. I'm in love with those flashes of green! I somehow missed this on Nan's blog last year (probably too busy drooling over a few other pictures, I'm sure) so this one is new to me. Hope you post pictures later when it blooms!

    By the way, I can't believe that you can't find those regular red-leaf pennisetums for under $16! We can find them almost anywhere for around $4 a 4" pot... I usually wait until the first week or so of June and get them for half price. If you do find smaller pots, don't worry--those little guys take off so quickly that the "wow that's small" phase will be done before you know it. :-)

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    1. I have that happen at times too...where a blog I visit all the time will suddenly slip under the radar, so to speak. I think I usually don't see those smaller ones around here, for whatever reason. It seems that they only sell those large 1-gallon sizes :-(

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  13. Great photos Scott. I love that grass and it looks fantastic in the pail.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  14. Really beautifully grown. You did good. Flowers soon too? Then even better! I'll cross my fingers for you to get it through winter.

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    1. That's actually something I totally forgot to mention...it probably won't flower here. It's a weird hybrid that will probably only flower in the tropics...still, the foliage is good enough for me :-)

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  15. Beautiful, esp. in the silver container. But I'm with Debbie Teashon: when you divide out the cost by the months of enjoyment, it really isn't that much. I buy purple fountain grass every spring, plant in April, and enjoy its beauty until November or December, which even at $16 a pop works out to $2 a month. A bargain!

    Still I might have to try your Vertigo if it turns out to be hardy for you. Do keep us updated.

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    1. It's so true, Pam...I guess, deep down, I'm still a cheap-skate about some things!!! I really should indulge myself on such things...I'm not sure why I always feel a little guilty about buying annuals...but they are WONDERFUL while they last, aren't they. I'll definitely let you all know how it endures winter :-)

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  16. Beautiful - love it in the galvanized pail!

    I'll be attempting to overwinter a purple fountain grass indoors this year.

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    1. Very cool...I hope you are able to over-winter it!

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  17. What a great idea to feature that lovely vertigo over time. It is beautiful! You will enjoy having this record of its beauty over time.

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    1. I agree...it's always fun to look back at the progress of a plant, isn't it!

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  18. Wow, that plant's a non-stop party! I love all the variations of color it has as it matures.

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    1. Hahahahaha.it sure is...and I agree...it really sort of keep morphing!

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  19. Holy smokes, it's gorgeous. And at a zone 8 - I'll just have to visit it on your blog. Although, maybe it wouldn't mind living with Kevin's car over the winter....
    B.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara...I know that feeling ;-) I hope Kevin doesn't mind!

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  20. it's a beauty and I love the peak into your garden beyond it! The galvanized containers are fab.

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    1. Thanks, Gail...those containers were a total steal...I think maybe $10 at Ikea (and probably cheaper than that)!

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  21. I bought this on a whim last year and planted it in the ground. It's such a fabulous plant I blogged about it a couple of months ago! Loved it so much I repeated the planting this season (it's not hardy here). Fortunately my local nursery sells it for six or seven dollars. Plenty of bang for the buck for sure.

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    1. OMG...how did I miss your post on it, Sue?!? I'm jumping over there right now to read it...glad to know you had good luck with it as well :-)

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  22. Again, amazing photos! I love all the photos (different compositions) of the pennisetum 'Vertigo.' Question for you...did you drill a hole in the galvanized pots for drainage or just water minimally. Just curious as I see a lot of people growing in galvanized containers and I am assuming they have all created a drainage hole??

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    1. Oh yes, absolutely, I drained 3 holes in the pot...and filled the bottom 2" (approximately) with gravel for drainage. I think it's always for the best to drill a hole...don't want them to rot if it fills with water.

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  23. Thank you, Scott, for sharing your fabulous garden. My plant wish list gets lots of new additions from Nan Ondra as well. Now your blog will be inspiration for combinations and new selections, too. Love it!

    Frances

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    1. OMG, Frances...Nan Ondra is pure genius...I've spent countless hours on her blog (and reading her books), trying to really absorb her flair for plants :-)

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  24. Hi Scott, I love this plant, and it looks like it's very happy in the pot. But I somehow think it will prefer to be in the garden where it can really stretch out, and mingle with its neighbours. Or maybe that's what I would prefer and I am projecting it onto the plant! cheers, catmint

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    1. I think you're totally right on that, Catmint. I'm sort of "trialing" it this year...I had thought originally that if I really liked it this year, I'd find a spot for it in the garden...and it's looking like that's pretty likely, at this point ;-)

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  25. Great ornamental grass, but also----great pairing of this grass and that lovely galvanized planter.

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    1. Thanks, Janet...is there anything you can't do with Galvanized metal? :-)

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  26. That's stunning, love the dark foliage, I have Pennisetum envy :)

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    1. Hahahahahahahahaha...I'm going to use that line, you know I will ;-)

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  27. I usually avoid annuals in my garden, because I have a very limited budget. It seems much wiser to me to focus on perennials and bulbs that don't have to be replaced year after year. Every once in a while, though, I take a chance, hoping that they will reseed at the very least.

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    1. I'm the same way, Sarah...it's pretty rare for me to spend money on an annual...I have to REALLY like it to do so!

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