Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Shades of Grey in the Garden

Private Garden in Burlington, ON

We are heading into November, which is a bit of a grey and gloomy month. By late fall, winds have stripped the garden of most of its autumn color. Neutrals like tan, brown, grey and black carry the garden through the winter.

This seems like a perfect time to be talking about the uses of grey in the garden.

A grey church steeple in a garden in Rosedale, ON.

Shades of grey and beige are restful colors. 

They are undemanding and that makes them feel calm and serene.

In this pathway, grey and beige work together to great effect.

Brain Folmer's garden near Walkerton, ON

To break up to endless variety of green in any garden, the natural tendency is to think of foliage variegation. Grey foliage can the same job.

Liz Mallcki's garden, Mississauga, ON

The Harrison sister's garden in Hamilton, ON

Not only does grey sing sweetly in amongst the greens, it also provides a nice foil for brighter colors.

Blue Seakale, Crambe maritima in front of blue Salvia at the Royal 
Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, ON


Brain Folmer's garden near Walkerton, ON

Vivid colors seem even more vibrant against a neutral backdrop.


In terms of grey foliage, there are leaves splattered with grey like this Lungwart, Pulmonaria.

Lost Horizons Nursery

Here is the Pulmonaria in a garden (see lower left corner). (Going forward, I am trying to make a point of photographing plants in the context of a garden and not just doing close-up glamour shots.)


And there are also leaves broken with grey like this Brunnera 'Jack Frost' ...


or this Coral Bells, Heuchera, 'Berry Marmalade'.


Here is another Heuchera to show you an example of how this plant might be used 
in combination with other perennials.


There are also solid greys like Lamb's Ears.


(And here is Lamb's Ears in a garden setting.)


A lovely bonus of grey foliage is that often it has a soft, downy texture.


In the next part of my grey series, I will look at some of the many grey plant options.

36 comments:

  1. Jennifer - grey is my least favourite colour. But in the garden (except in the month of March when it's paired with beige) it soften lines, makes one plant friends with another, helps rest your eyes, and gives a lovely old-world elegance to both new and old gardens. Had so much fun figuring out where the photos were taken before reading their location - in many cases saying "I remember that - I was there too!" And, see how much better photos can be when you work on them - next project for me. As far as certain writers repeating phrases, Mum had to transcribe Danielle Steel into Braille for one of their clients - she was apoplectic by the end of the exercise - Mum still can be driven into a lather and barely needs a nudge to launch into her...."Did you know that on every page there are the words - LOOK, TURNED, SMILED. e.g.: Turning, she looked and smiled; as she smiled, she turned and looked; "Look at me!." she said. He turned and smiled.... No wonder she's written so many books, she just takes the same words and jumbles them about. " Barbara

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    1. I am absolutely guilty of repeating myself when it comes to writing. Half my edits are attempts to remove repetition. I think that is why I am so conscious of it when others do it. Let's face it, we all have things we need to work on.

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  2. A lovely series of photos and interesting about the use of grey in gardens.

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  3. I'm going to try to work some stone shapes into my garden and am realizing how beautiful they would be surrounded by some of the plants you've featured here. Love that frog in your first photo!

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  4. Such peaceful pics and I do love the grey!

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  5. You've shown some beautiful examples of how silvery/gray foliage really brightens up the garden. I count on it down here to visually cool things off during the intense heat and sunshine of our summers. My recent favorite is the globe mallow. It's fuzzy, frilly, gray leaves look so pretty against the apricot colored blooms.

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  6. Hi Jennifer
    Again, excellent shots of gray foliage and gray objects. (How cute is that FROG!!!)
    And just when I was going to ask Santa for a macro lens for Christmas, so I could take great close-ups like you do, you say you are going to curtail the "close up glamour shots!!" I LOVE your close up glamour shots. Pls don't stop them completely.
    Whenever I see that you have added a post to your blog, I check it right away - and am never disappointed.
    Keep up the fantastic work!

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement. There are plenty of days when I question my sanity. It is not so much that I am curtailing the closeups, it just that I firmly believe that you also need to see a plant in a garden setting to appreciate what it can do in your own garden. Whenever possible, I would like to try to show the closeup (they do give you a good look at a plant's finer characteristics) and also the same plant in the context of its surroundings.

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  7. So picturesque and peaceful! :)

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  8. I love grey but don't use it enough. Actually, I wore a grey dress to work today. Does that count? ;o) I like greyish blue and use it more than pure grey. It seems easier to work with. I really liked the sea kale with the purple salvia. Wowza! I love both the close ups and the larger garden views. I need to see both to be able to understand the contextual options for a plant. Buying me a macro lens for Christmas would be a total waste of money. I asked to have my wheelbarrow repaired.

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  9. This really has inspired me. Grey is not, a tone I use in the garden as much as I should. Initially when planting the garden I did...but lost some of the plantings and never developed them further. Thank you for reminding me...

    Great series of photos Jennifer..as always.

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  10. One of my gardening mentors referred to grey as the great garden unifier.

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  11. Thanks for the tour of gardens, they are all lovely. I don't use gray much in my garden, but I use a lot of white - I think of Jack Frost as white and green.

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  12. lovely lucious landscape!...number ONe !!!!the pond I want

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  13. I really like silver and gray in the garden when used with red or purple.

    I wish I had stone walls in the garden.

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  14. Yummy! The garden paths and plant combinations in these photos are amazing! I too like gray in the garden. It is never really touched upon but acts as an important player. Great shots!

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  15. Really nice profile of an under rated color in the garden. Good job.

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  16. Nicely written. Like all colors, there are many shades of grey. It's how it is used that makes it look drab or fabulous! love silvery tones with white and blue especially

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  17. What is nice about the "greys" is the color casts and tones. Some of them work so nicely with their neighbors.

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  18. The silvers and greys really do add so much to the overall depth of a garden. You have some wonderful examples here.

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  19. Grey and silver are great in foliage gardens, mixed in with other coloured foliage plants or by themselves. Love the images they are lovely. Best Wishes Karen.

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  20. I do love the look of gray and gray/blue in the garden whether it be from plants or structure.

    Eileen

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  21. I love grey in the garden. It makes the other colors sing! Some beautiful images, and some great ideas here. WOW on the church steeple!

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  22. Love all the ideas of how to combine grey into the garden. I love the grey/blue tones of a number of plants but often am not quite sure how to make them work with other plants.

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  23. Jennifer, when I think of color schemes for a garden, I would never think of gray. But you are so right--looking at your photos, I am reminded of how effective a silvery/gray plant is as an accent or contrast. I love the photo of the silver conifer in the Harrison sisters' garden. Lamb's ears and Brunnera are two of my favorite gray plants, too. And although I like color in a garden, I love the aged patina of gray art pieces and walkways--they look so classical and classy.

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  24. grey is a most wonderful and important colour for me in my garden. I adore the photos you've shown above. The other important quality of grey foliage plants is that they are drought resistant. great post, jennifer!

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  25. Now I am going out to look at my Autumn garden, to see where "grey will sing sweetly among the green".

    A inspiring, and beautiful post.

    Jen

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  26. Żywe rosnące w ogrodach szarości są śliczne. Jednak szare widoki, które są obecnie w ogrodzie są przygnębiające. Pozdrawiam.
    Vivid growing in the gardens of gray is beautiful. However, iron sights, which are now in the garden are depressing. Yours.

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  27. Beautiful photos... I've had a blog post idea running around in my head about "shades of grey", so it was funny to see your post about it... lovely indeed... and I loved your previous post "Devil in Disguise", absolutely adorable... I'll be checking out more of your blog over the next little while... thanks again for visiting mine... Cheers.

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  28. A beautiful post Jennifer. Gray is indeed a great counterpoint to the brighter colors – and a companion to this time of year. Cheers.

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  29. I submitted an entry into your writing contest. :o)

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  30. Lovely! Your images have warmed my heart with all that weathered stone.

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  31. I love the first image of the lily pond. The garden ornament of frog catching the butterfly is stunning; so much energy and dynamics in it.

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  32. I absolutely love the Pulmonaria and the Brunnera foliage. I wonder if they'd do well here.
    Bye,
    Marian

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  33. What a fabulous post! So many wonderful plant combinations. I've bookmarked this post so I can refer to it as I do my spring planning. I especially love the photos taken at The Harrison Sister's garden in Hamilton, ON. I love gray foliage, so many plants are enhanced when planted next to gray.

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