Silver in the Garden

I think just about every presentation I’ve given involving planting design has included my strong promotion of silver-leaved plants.  I think silver and white are sorely lacking in most gardens, borders and containers in general.  We all enjoy the “hot colors” of yellow, orange and red and hopefully appreciate the “cool colors” of blue, maroon and myriad greens.  However, I view white/silver as a unifying color and it’s value becomes even more pronounced at dusk and in areas with low lighting.  Silver also combines well with a wide range of other colors.  The “illumination” that silver plants provide is a strong visual tool in any landscape.  What’s interesting with all of these featured plants (both annuals and perennials), is that they almost all have a furry pubescence.  This layer of “fur” increases the surface area of the leaf allowing for even more silvering, an amazing look in moonlight and also helps with water retention for many of these as they are native in areas with hot summers.  In summary – Silver is good, use more of it!  There are entire gardening books on this topic that will give you more planting ideas and a wider palette.  While white flowers are powerful, the surface area of a silver leaf and longer longevity for visual appeal (months compared to weeks) makes for more significant impact.

With spring arriving officially tomorrow on the calendar, the sunny day was beautiful and offered a promise of warmer days (despite the chilly morning!).  We had a huge turnout of volunteers today. Staff included Larry O., Cindy, Bobby K. and myself.  We worked on a wide range of tasks.  Gardening volunteers included Steve E., Grace, Bob C. and Kathy P.  They were working on garden tidying, grass cutting and mulching.  Larry O. and Dick H. also worked on path repair.  Dennis and Garrett continued clearing brush from the North path.  Good luck to Garrett who heads shortly to sunny Florida for a new job.  Kristin and Stan were in to tidy in the Japanese garden.  Vern, Jim, Ron Y., Steve and Firefighter Cathy were all doing carpentry work while Del, Dr. Gredler, Marv and Alan worked on painting.  Bill O. worked on some equipment.  Peg continued with her labeling projects and we also saw Becky, Maury, Gary A. and many others.  There was a lot of activity today which is always nice to see.

silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus) – annual (two photos above)

silver sage (Salvia argentea) – biennial (above and below)

‘Majeste’ lungwort (Pulmonaria sp.) – perennial (above and below)

‘Looking Glass’ false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla) – perennial (above and directly below)

‘Jack Frost’ false forget-me-not (Brunnera macrophylla) – perennial (above)

Mighty Velvet™ annual lamb’s ears (Stachys sp. ‘Bello Grigio’) – annual

lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) – perennial

cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) – annual for us

trailing aluminum plant (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’) – annual

dusty Miller (Senecio sp.) – annual

lavender (Lavandula x intermedia – Dutch group) – perennial

‘Berggarten’ garden sage (Salvia officinalis) – z5 hardy (above and four photos below)

lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) – annual for us

‘Colchester White’ downy centaurea (Centaurea cineraria) – annual

‘Redbor’ kale (Brassica oleracea) with eucalyptus (Eucalyptus sp.) – Olbrich Botanical Garden (Madison, WI)