Silver Options for The Garden
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, July 21, 2012 03:45 AM
Landscaping is all about colour. There are plants that we choose for their flowers and then there are others that we choose for their foliage. There are some beautiful perennials that don't need flowers as their foliage is what is attractive. If you are looking to add some silver to your landscape there are several perennials that have beautiful silver foliage.
'Lambs Ears' (Stachys byzantina) is a favourite among children as the light silver/grey foliage is soft and fuzzy, and looks the ears of little lambs. ( photo at right courtesy Wikimedia Commons) It is a low growing perennial, that is ideal for a ground cover or as a border plant. It is considered an evergreen in milder climates and the foliage remains till it is covered by snow here in our area. In the spring, using your hands or bamboo rake, gently rake away the dead foliage and trim back the plant to make it look neat and tidy. It is an easy to grow plant growing in full sun/partial shade in a well drained soil. In the early summer spikes of pink flowers rise above the silvery foliage and these can be removed if you don't find them attractive. Removing the flowers will also prevent the plant from self sowing.
'Snow in Summer' (Cerastium tomentosum) is another nice low growing, light silver leaved, soft leaved, perennial. ( photo at right, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
This mat forming plant grows only 15 cm tall and would make a great ground cover. It can be fast growing so keep this in mind when planting it. Right now the plant really stands out as it is covered in tiny white flowers which is where the name 'Snow in summer' comes from. After it has finished blooming shear it back slightly removing the dead flowers, and it will produce new growth. It grows best in full sun and is heat/drought tolerant as well as being able to grow in poor soils.
'Edelweiss' (Leontopodium), is a beautiful silver leaved plant that bears silvery white flowers both which are covered with a fine hair. It is from the Swiss Alps and grows well in the rock garden. Plant it in a sunny location in a well drained soil, and once established it is drought tolerant.
There are several different silver varieties of Sages (Artemisia) that grow very well in our zone 3 region. The first one being 'Silver Mound'. Silver Mound is a compact plant growing 45 cm tall and wide. It has soft, feathery, silver grey leaves that have a sage-like fragrance. They are very attractive grown in rock gardens or as an edging plant. It is an extremely hardy perennial that is has a zone 1-9 rating.
'Silver Sage' is another type that is native to North America and grows well here. It is a taller plant with light silver stems and leaves, growing 60-75 cm in height. These sages are easy to grow, rarely bothered by pests and are heat and drought tolerant once they have become established. Plant in a sunny location in a well drained soil.
There are other perennials that have silver colours mixed in with their foliage such as Brunnera macrophylla, Lamium, Pulmonaria, and certain varieties of Heuchera.
As I get older I appreciate the colour, silver more. Silver plants in the landscape are a good contrast for other brightly coloured plants and blend in nicely with softly coloured pastels.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Garden Centres in Prince George:
· Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
· Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road.
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