One of the key color groups in the pallet of plant colors is the shades of silver and gray. In other blogs we have discussed the importance of color and contrast in plant selection as well as the emphasis on plant combinations.

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Shades of Deep Red (8/1/17), Shades of Green (1/16/18), Our Favorite Plants (7/3/18), Plant Combinations (2/27/18), and Color and Contrast (9/22/15) are blogs that discuss the effective use of color in the garden. Shades of deep red make up the darker part of the color scale. Greens cover the medium part. Now we want to take a look at the lighter and lightest colors, such as shades of silver and gray, which includes variegated foliage,

and softer shades of gray-blue. Remember, it is not so much the plants that are used but rather the plant combinations. It is not accidental that our gardens turn out as beautiful as they do, as evidenced by our photos. We first ensure our basic plant philosophies:

  1. Mixing of heights, textures and bloom seasons so that each plant stands out and so that there is something interesting in the garden throughout the four seasons.
  2. Determining whether there are deer present in the garden. This may restrict the plant list to choose from if there are deer browsing the garden.
  3. Is the garden, or section of the garden, in sun or shade? The cultural needs of the plants must be addressed.
  4. Is there an appropriate design style based on either the style of the home or the owner’s taste? Asian? Mediterranean?

Then based on the above design philosophies and criteria, we begin selecting plants. Reds and greens were discussed in earlier blogs. The silver and gray plants we like to use in the garden are:

  • Tulbaghia ‘Silver Lace’ – the variegated form of society garlic, this is a twelve inch tall perennial with variegated spiky leaves. Vertical spikes with soft lavender purple flowers appear all summer long.
  • Cerastium tomentosum – ‘Snow-in-Summer’ is a low mounded perennial that will spread rapidly and sheet down over a wall, with small white flowers showing against soft gray foliage.
  • Stachys byzantine – ‘Lamb’s Ears gets its silvery color from the soft hairs on the leaves which reflect light. This deer resistant perennial is a low growing ground cover.
  • Artemesia – there are many varieties of this sun-loving perennial. We frequently use ‘Powis Castle’.
  • Feijoa sellowiana – The pineapple guava is a large evergreen shrub with gray green foliage. The fruit is delicious on its own, but so are the flowers, which are delicious in salads!
  • Lavender – there are many many varieties of lavender available, with foliage that ranges from shiny silver (‘Anouk Silver’) to grayish green. Lavandula varieties offer fragrance, deer resistance, and heat and drought tolerant. It requires, however, well-drained soil and frequent deadheading throughout the year.
  • Festuca – blue fescue is a short, grass-like plant that is available in many, yet similar varieties. All have silver-bluish foliage and are useful smaller companion plants to the deep reds and dark greens. It is a sun-loving perennial.

The shades of silver and gray are useful in the garden’s color palett.