Silver in Your Garden

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Jenny Watts
    • Chrysanthemums give the brightest colors for fall. Choose them in bloom now at your nursery.
    • Feed fuchsias, begonias, summer annuals and container plants to keep them green and blooming right up until frost.
    • Matilija poppies are a hardy perennial with flowers that look like “fried eggs.” Plant them in a sunny spot with good drainage.
    • Tree collards are delicious winter vegetables. Set out plants now.
    • Fall vegetables can be planted now for a fall harvest of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard and lettuce.

Silver in Your Garden

One of the fun parts of designing a garden is working with color. Flowers bring the most color to the garden, but the subtle palette of foliage colors is also full of possibilities. Gray gardens are somewhat of a tradition in England, and since there are many drought-tolerant, gray-leafed plants, it’s easy to create one here as well.

A garden of silvery foliage and calming shades of lavender and blue can be a place for relaxation and contemplation. Many of these perennials are wonderfully fragrant and since silvery leaves reflect moonlight as well as sunlight, this is a perfect garden to plant near your patio or deck.

Gray-leafed plants need plenty of sun and excellent drainage with only moderate summer watering. They tolerate tough conditions like wind and rocky soil and most are deer-resistant.

Begin your design with some of the taller lavenders like Lavendula ‘Provence’ which grows 3 to 4 feet tall and as wide. The bright blue flowers have a nice fragrance and are good for potpourri or lavender wands.

Russian sage, Perovskia, is a graceful, upright shrub with sprays of lavender-blue flowers atop its silvery stems. The finely cut foliage is very attractive. Of course the popular wallflower, ‘Bowles Mauve’ is also a fine landscape shrub that blooms with purple flowers over a long season, from February to July.

Once you have the larger plants placed, you can fill in with some smaller perennials. ‘Lamb’s Ear’ is a great favorite for its woolly, silver-gray foliage. Some varieties have flower stalks with small, purplish flowers but ‘Silver Carpet’ doesn’t bloom at all.

For a little flower variety, add Teucrium fruticans. This silver-foliaged evergreen shrub has wonderful azure blue flowers most of the summer on a 3-4 foot shrub. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Many of the sages have silvery foliage. Culinary sage, Salvia officinalis, has excellent ornamental qualities, with lavender-blue flowers and wrinkled, gray-green leaves that are frequently used fresh or dried as a seasoning.

Salvia apiana, white sage, is a striking native sage, growing 3-5 ft. tall and wide. The distinctive whitish aromatic foliage cover this shrub with long flower stems of lavender tinged white blossoms. Used in smudge bundles as a natural incense, it is a bee and hummingbird favorite.

Lychnis coronaria, known as rose campion, is an easy-to-grow perennial with fuzzy gray leaves and tall stems of showy, magenta flowers. Lavender cotton, Santolina chamaecyparissus, makes a fragrant, dense mound with attractive grayish-silver foliage. The small, bright yellow button flowers light up the plant in early summer making it a good border shrub.

‘Moonshine’ yarrow has finely cut silvery leaves and yellow flower heads on upright stems 2-3 feet tall. And even old-fashioned dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything.

Explore the colorful world of silver and blue and create a special garden all your own.