Silvery Foliage – Drama for Your Garden

How to Add Drama to Your Garden

A fast and easy way to add drama and contrast to your garden is by inter-planting some silvery foliage plants. Interspersed among the brighter greens and colorful blossoms, these neutrals harmonize all the garden elements and elevate your landscaping from ‘pretty’ to absolutely stunning.

Regardless of the season, these neutral coloured plants add interest. Foliage plants come into their own in September and October, just when colorful perennial blooms and vivid green foliage fades.garden

Many of the silvery foliage plants with striking leaves in gray to blue tones have been adapted to our home gardens. They often make great xeriscaping plants because they are low maintenance. A large number of them have hairy or waxy textured foliage. These traits have enabled them to naturally live in dry environments.

Silvery Foliage Plants

Here are some of the most commonly grown silver foliage plants for your garden:

Artemisias have many species, from low ground covers to tall bushy plants. Typically they have fine lacy foliage, silvery or frosty green. The dwarf spreading varieties are good rock garden or edging plants, while other tall species can fill in the back of a bed.

Sometimes referred to as wormwood, the taller artemisias grow to a bushy 3 feet. The shrubby branches do not die back over winter. Cut them back and reshape the plant in spring. As it grows throughout the summer, it may need pruning to keep it from sprawling.

The variety ‘Powis Castle’ has a bushy mass of foliage that spreads 2 feet tall and wide. Prune it hard in either fall or spring, it they will come back every year. Don’t toss out the branches you trim off. They make wonderfully scented wreath additions!

silvery foliage

Stachys – the byzantia species – are commonly referred to as lamb’s ears because their velvety leaves are covered with fine white hairs, shaped like a lamb’s ears. Hybrid species are smaller plants with short spires of small flowers that open to a rose-purple color. The variety named ‘Silver Carpet’ is a good edging plant, covering large areas fairly quickly. Its silvery foliage stays dense and compact all season.

Verbascum species, relatives of the tall common roadside mullein, all have the typical upright spires of flowers. These rise out of a rosette of silvery and furry leaves. The giant silver mullein (bombyciferum), has silvery-white feltlike leaves that form a large rosette the first year. In the following summer, a tall spire of irregularly blooming yellow flowers rises from the leaves. This is a spectacular specimen plant. Be warned that the fine seeds can sprout quickly and take over.

Perovskia, or Russian sage, looks a bit like a cross between lavender and artemisia. It has fine gray-green scented leaves and short flower spikes of lavender blue. Over the course of the summer, it will form a small loose shrub. Mound soil over the base to protect the plant each fall, and cut the branches back to about 8 inches.

Another silver-gray foliage plant to consider for the garden is Santolina. It forms an aromatic bush of fuzzy silver-white foliage and mustard-yellow buttons of flowers. It contrasts well with dark green or purplish foliage plants. It is often used as an edging or in a knot garden. Cut the branches back in fall. The branches dry well, and can be woven into aromatic wreaths.

If you’re looking for a ground cover that can add some silvery touches, consider adding Lamium. These are suitable for shady areas, and the variegated green and silver leaves will add splashes of light to a dim corner.

If you’re looking for an interesting ground cover, choose woolly thyme. It’s low growing, with silver gray felt-like foliage. Another good ground cover choice is snow-in-summer. This will spread rapidly, and has small silvery leaves and bright white flowers.

Amethyst sea holly is a striking plant that can easily stand alone in the garden. It has steely blue thistle-like flowers held above silver-green foliage. This is one  that has become increasingly popular in the last few years. silvery foliage

One last favorite silvery plant is rose campion. This perennial grows up to 3 feet, with gray stems rising from a basal clump of woolly silvery foliage. The stems sport profuse rose-magenta blossoms. You’ll want to dead head the flowers immediately, or they will profusely self-seed. I found this out the first year I grew it! Once flowering is done, the low basal leaves make an interesting ground cover.

No matter how to choose to use them in the garden, these silvery foliage plants will add dimension, drama and interest to nearly any landscape.

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