The swirling waves of an Ornamental cabbage
I have a marathon of images to finish off my grey-themed posts, so I will keep this introduction short and sweet.
I always learn something in putting these post together. The pictures are bookmarks that reference the important passages in last summer's travels: Note to self: Remember this plant or that planting combination. Even if a plant is as common as dirt, I often see it used in such a way that I find myself thinking: now isn't that a great idea!
So, let's dive right in:
I am pushing it with this first example of grey. I hope you will forgive me, but you don't see this old-fashioned plant as often as you should these days. This is Basket of Gold, Aurinia saxatilis 'Compacta'. Its foliage is greyish-green.
Here it is tumbling down the rocky hillside of a former quarry. (The Rockery at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, ON). Height: 20-30 cm. Spread 20-30 cm. Care: Full sun, average to sandy soil. Drought tolerant when established.
Snow-in-summer, cerastium tomentosum in my garden
My mom always detested this ground cover, but though it can take over in a hurry, it does have some uses. In my garden it holds a sloping bank on the eastern side of the house. In the image below, snow-in-summer cascades down a steep embankment at the RBG in Hamilton.
Snow-in-summer, cerastium tomentosum. Height 15-20 cm. Spread: 60-75 cm. Care: As you can see this plant is a spreader. It is perfect in hot sunny areas with poor soil. Clip it back after flowering to keep it tidy.
Cheddar Pinks, Dianthus Height: 15-30 cm Spread: 20-30 cm Care: Full sun.
I couldn't leave these out. Beautiful grey foliage and a delicious, spicy scent.
A front planting that incorporates a pale, pink dianthus as well as a few grey-blue evergreens. Private Garden in Mississauga, ON.
Sea holly, Eryngium Height: 60-75 cm. Spread: 45-60 cm Care: Full sun
Sea Holly with purple Monkshood in the foreground. Larkwhistle Garden on the Bruce Peninsula.
Yarrow, Achillea taygetea 'Moonshine' has lovely silver foliage. Height: 45-60cm Spread: 50 cm Care: Full sun. Blooms June to September (with deadheading).
I have this silver yarrow in my garden. It is very reliable, quiet and well-behaved (never the class clown). It puts up with any amount of neglect I lavish on it.
Lavender Cotton, Santolina chamaecyparissus Height: 30-45 cm Spread: 30-60cm Care: Requires good drainage. Drought tolerant when established.
This is a plant I saw at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton and knew nothing about. I liked the foliage so much however, I wanted to know more. Lavender Cotton was often used in traditional herb and knot gardens. Its dried leaves are nicely scented and are sometimes used in potpourri.
Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' Height: 25 cm Spacing: 35 cm Care: Best in full sun. Makes a nice compact mound of silver.
I have Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King' in my garden. Now, if you are familiar with this cultivar then you are probably questioning my sanity. In researching this plant, I found a reference that described it as "a little aggressive for the average perennial border".
That's a polite way of saying it spreads like mad!!
I knew 'Silver King' was a spreader, but I thought I could outsmart it...so I planted it in the garden in a pot with a hole cut in the bottom. Foolish, foolish gardener!
'Silver King' laughed in my face and sent out runners that just skipped over the rim of the plastic pot.
Despite the bad experience, I haven't given up on Artemisia. Look how great it looks in combination with the burgundy Barberry above. I am convinced that I just need to find another cultivar that is better behaved.
Artemisia 'Powis Castle' Height: 75 cm Spread: 45 cm Care: Full sun, well-drained soil. Excellent for hot sunny sites. Hardy zones 6-9.
What is your experience with Artemisia? Do you know a great cultivar we should all try. Here are a couple of options I saw last summer. Any comments?
Edwards Garden in Toronto Artemisia stelleriana 'Boughton Silver' with taller Calamint behind. Height: 15-30 cm Spread: 60-75 cm Care: Compact selection. Full sun. Clip back mid-summer to maintain low mat-like effect.
We had Lamb's Ears in the garden when we first moved in. Over time, the shade of mature trees made it harder and harder for it to prosper. Next summer, I would like to find a new spot and buy some new plants.
I have to say that I am not fond of Lamb's Ear's in bloom. Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet' has dense clumps of soft, velvety silver leaves. Apparently this selection rarely blooms. Height: 10-15 cm Spread: 30-60 cm.
Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia. Grey foliage makes a nice foil for warm colors such as pink and mauve. It can easily be a best friend for blue and purple.
The Music Garden, Toronto, ON.
Blue-grey evergreens in the Kinanen's backyard garden in Dundas Ontario. The garden's pond is right off the deck. Perfect for watching the fish dart around. Pond by Clearwater Ponds.
Really quickly, I will remind you that evergreens offer some beautiful garden greys.
Korean Fir, Abies koreana 'Siberlocke' You can read more about Koran Fir trees in this post by Alistair who writes the blog Aberdeen Gardening.
Aren't these grey pinecones interesting?
The Harrison Sister's garden in Hamilton, ON
A beautiful story in color and texture.
Here we are looking back the other way in the same garden. The Harrison Sister's garden in Hamilton, ON
Hostas also come in a nice range of grey and blue-grey colors.
Heather Bradley's garden in Mississauga, ON.
Finally, if you want to add grey to your garden next summer, don't forget to consider
ferns like this Japanese Fern.
Edward's Garden, Toronto, ON.