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Anne K Moore
Photograph Anne K Moore

Portuguese Oregano (Plectranthus) looks very much like Cuban Oregano. In fact, that’s what I thought I was buying. The leaves, which are lime green in the center with white and cream patches, are much prettier than the variegated Cuban oregano. Since I grow it as an ornamental rather than a culinary plant, I am very happy with it. It backs up the dark Fuchsia 'Dainty Angel Earrings', which are said to be more tolerant of the heat and humidity in the Southern states. The last two or three weeks has sorely tested this upright fuchsia with 90-plus degree heat and high humidity. Annual Pentas are famous for their ability to stand up to heat and humidity and keep on blooming. I especially like this pink one. I deadhead them to keep them attractive, but they will send up more flowers without my accomplishing that particular chore.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Daddy™’ was given to me several years ago when I interviewed Linda Guy at her nursery for an article in South Carolina Homes & Gardens Magazine. (Linda is the plant development director for Novalis Plants that Work.) These hydrangeas have been wonderful in the shade. Their lemon-lime foliage is beautiful without flowers. The blooms are just a special perk on a special plant. I slipped a Strobolanthus in behind the Lemon Daddy. It is an annual with purple leaves over-washed with silver. Pictures never do it justice. Visitors in person more easily admire it, especially when the Lemon Daddy shines its light on it.

Barbara J. Sullivan gave Xanthosoma aurea ‘Lime Zinger’ (USDA Zones 9–11) to me from her Wilmington N.C. garden. Barbara, a Master Gardener and author of the book Garden Perennials for the Coastal South, and her garden were featured in one of the GardenSMART shows from Wilmington last year ( Lime Zinger is also sometimes listed as an Alocasia or Colocasia. I lost the original large plant last winter but smaller tubers survived and they are coming along nicely. I like it paired with the Blackie sweet potato vine. Its purple heart plays well off the deep purple potato vine leaves. If it isn’t hardy where you live, you can dig it and either dry and store the tubers or pot it up and use as a houseplant during the winter months.

I have long admired the foliage of Golden Japanese Forest Grass, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola’ after seeing large clumps of it thriving in the shade around a pond in a Michigan garden. Here in South Carolina it struggles. In fact, I have killed several by planting them in the ground. Why I have been able to keep this one alive, I really don’t know. Probably because the minute it looks puny or unhappy, I move it and pamper it with more water. I had two but our overwintering bunny found one before I found the damage. That one is struggling to return with wisps of leaves. I married my good-looking (although small) forest grass with a Margarita sweet potato vine, Ipomoea batatas. The annual Margarita sweet potato vine will die in the winter but the tuber can be dug and stored to grow another vine next year. In full sun, it will have more yellow foliage. Here in the half-sunny area of my garden, it is a cool shade of lime.

The yellow-bell flowers of Forsythia in the early spring are too-soon-finished and we are left with a not-too-pretty shrub. This Forsythia, Golden Times, offers beautiful yellow and lime color all seasons long, from early spring to late fall. With this forsythia, it is the foliage that shines in the garden. It was given to me by a writing buddy, Sharon Thompson. Aren’t gardeners just the most generous people? Here Golden Times highlights the almost black leaves of Elephant Ear ‘Black Magic’ (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’).

Lime is an almost necessity to show off and light up the dark plants in the garden. It is easy to add a splash of lime to your garden, as long as you think foliage instead of flowers.

Posted July 4 2014

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