Silver, Polished

Airing of Grievance form from the Bureau of Communication

After yet another zinger of a winter storm and no near prospect of seeing bare ground again, things are getting really boring around here. I figured that it was time to take a break from the photography series and find some other excuse for rifling through my image archives, so I thought I’d indulge in another color-theme post. Right now, there’s only one predominant color: white. Well, let’s say four colors: white, black, gray, and silver. (Remember, you should be able to see larger versions of all of these images by clicking on them once or twice.)

We’ve had snow, then ice…

The courtyard in February 2014 at Hayefield.com

Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic' on ice at Hayefield.com

Arbor on ice at Hayefield.com

Patrinia scabiosifolia on ice at Hayefield.com

…and most recently, lots more snow.

Hayefield House in mid-February 2014

The boys are really not amused. I have to shovel paths for them because the snow is higher than their tummies.

Daniel and Duncan in the snow at Hayefield.com

But when the paths freeze at night, they turn to ice, and tiny feet on a rather top-heavy animal are not designed for ice.

Alpaca feet! Duncan at Hayefield.com

Anyway, you get the idea about the snow and ice as the primary palette right now. As I’ve already twice tackled white as a topic (Just White here and I Don’t Like White back at Gardening Gone Wild), I figured I’d go for silver and shades of gray this time.

Normally, colors in plants come from various pigments within the foliage or flowers. Silvers, grays, gray-blues, and the like, on the other hand, are usually “structural colors”: due to materials on the surface of the leaf.  In many cases, various densities and lengths of hairs cause the silvery to nearly white appearance. That’s true for many herbs, for instance, such as lavenders (Lavandula)…

Lavandula angustifolia at Hayefield.com

Salvia officinalis at Hayefield.com

…culinary sage (Salvia officinalis), including the straight species above and ‘Berggarten’ below…

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' with Pelargonium graveolens 'Grey Lady Plymouth' at Hayefield.com

…woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus), below…

Thymus pseudolanuginosus with Dianthus, Lavandula 'Provence', Zinnia 'Profusion White', Geranium 'Brookside', and Stipa tenuissima at Hayefield.com

..and lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) below.

Santolina chamaecyparissus with Pelargonium graveolens at Hayefield.com

The more dense the hairs, the brighter the silvery appearance. Sometimes, the silver-white appearance is relatively consistent through the growing season, as with the lavender cotton. On other plants, such as shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia), the silver is very obvious in spring and disappears as the summer progresses.

Syneilesis aconitifolia with Rubus idaeus 'Aureus' at Hayefield.com

Many “silver” plants have very silvery young leaves and stems. Then, as the leaves expand, the hairs are less dense and more of the green leaf surface is visible, giving the older leaves and stems more of a grayish green to pale green cast. Some plants in this category include silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus)…

Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield' at Hayefield.com

…rose campion (Lychnis coronaria), below…

Lychnis coronaria against Cotinus 'Grace' at Hayefield.com

…and common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), below.

Verbascum thapsus at Hayefield.com

Air spaces in the hairs reflect light, which explains why “silver” plants can vary quite a bit in how silvery they look at any given time, depending on the amount and angle of sunlight. ‘Powis Castle’ wormwood (Artemisia), for instance, is almost white in bright sun, gray in bright but overcast weather…

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' with Pelargonium 'Frosty' at Hayefield.com

…and almost blue in shade or very cloudy weather.

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' with Sedum 'Angelina' at Hayefield.com

The silvery appearance of hairy leaves is also much less noticeable when the leaves are wet but brightens again as the hairs dry and reflect light again.

Another type of structural color comes from a powdery or waxy coating on the leaf.  Depending on how thick the coating is, as well as the pigmented color of the leaf itself, the resulting effect can range from near white to gray-white, as on ‘Silver Drop’ eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii)…

Eucalyptus gunnii 'Silver Drop' at Hayefield.com

…bright gray, as on Sedum clavatum…

Sedum clavatum at Hayefield.com

…blue-gray, as on Echeveria ‘Silver Spoons’, below…

Echeveria 'Silver Spoons' at Hayefield.com

…to powder blue, as on ornamental cabbage, below…

Ornamental cabbage with Fuchsia 'Autumnale, Ceratostigma 'My Love', and Spiraea betulifolia 'Tor' at Hayefield.com

…pale blue to blue-green, as on sea kale (Crambe maritima)…

Crambe maritima at Hayefield.com

…and gray-green, as on Allium karataviense, below…

Allium karataviense 'Ivory Queen' with Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' at Hayefield.com

…and ‘Immortality’ bearded iris.

Iris 'Immortality' foliage at Hayefield.com

Just as herbs are a great go-to group of plants for silvery foliage, many veggies—especially allium- and cabbage-family plants—are wonderful for adding grays, gray-greens, and blue-grays to the garden.  Think of cabbages…

Cabbage 'Ruby Ball' at Hayefield.com

[Believe it or not, the images above and below are both of ‘Ruby Ball’.]

Cabbage 'Ruby Ball' at Hayefield.com

…Brussels sprouts (this is ‘Jade Cross’), below…

Brussels sprouts 'Jade Cross' at Hayefield.com

…kales…

Kale 'Red Russian'/'Russian Red' at Hayefield.com

[That’s ‘Red Russian’/’Russian Red’ above and ‘Nero di Toscana’/’Lacinato’ below.]

Kale 'Lacinato'/'Nero di Toscana' at Hayefield.com

…spigarello (also known as Italian leaf broccoli ), below…

Spigarello (Italian leaf broccoli) at Hayefield.com

…couve tronchuda (also known as Portuguese cabbage), below…

Couve tronchuda (Portuguese kale) with Angelica 'Ebony' at Hayefield.com

…and leeks (Allium ampelopasum), below.

Leek 'Blue Solaize' with Symphyotrichum oblongifolium at Hayefield.com

For more blues and grays, consider some hardy ornamental grasses, such as ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), below with Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida

‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), below with Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida at Hayefield.com

…’Dallas Blues’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum), below with Leucanthemum ‘Becky’…

Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues' and Leucanthemum 'Becky' at Hayefield.com

…and blue wheatgrass (Elymus magellanicus), below with Geranium  ‘Jolly Bee’.

Elymus magellanicus with Geranium 'Jolly Bee' at Hayefield.com

Succulents, too, offer a wealth of wonderful grays and blues. There are loads of elegant echeverias, such as Echeveria glauca (below with Sedum rubrotinctum)… 

Echeveria glauca with Sedum rubrotinctum at Hayefield.com

Echeveria ‘Blue Atoll’ (below with Crassula ovata ‘Baby Jade’)…

Echeveria ‘Blue Atoll’ with Crassula ovata ‘Baby Jade’ at Hayefield.com

…Chinese dunce cap (Orostachys iwarenge), below with ‘Elfin’ thyme…

Orostachys iwarenge and Thymus 'Elfin' at Hayefield.com

…blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae), below…

Senecio mandraliscae at Hayefield.com

…’Forest Frost’ hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum tectorum), below…

Sempervivum tectorum 'Forest Frost' at Hayefield.com

…and lots of sedums, including Corsican stonecrop (Sedum dasyphyllum ‘Major’), below…

Sedum dasyphyllum ‘Major’ at Hayefield.com

…and ‘Autumn Fire’ stonecrop (below with Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’).

‘Autumn Fire’ stonecrop with Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ at Hayefield.com

One thing that’s handy to keep in mind about plants with waxy and powdery coatings is that the “bloom” can wash or rub off over time or if they get touched too much, so try to handle them as little as possible. Horticultural oil sprays can remove the coatings too, so it’s best to choose other options if you need to control pests on or around plants with these sorts of leaves. (If you do forget and end up turning your blue hosta or blue spruce into a green one, it’s not a tragedy; the new growth will be blue again.)

Another sort of silvering in leaves comes from inside the foliage: air spaces under the leaf surface, which reflect light and block the appearance of the green chorophyll (or other pigments) lower in the leaf. A couple of examples here include the marking on lungworts (Pulmonaria)…

Pulmonaria with Symphyotrichum laeve 'Bluebird' at Hayefield.com

…spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)…

Lamium maculatum with Acer palmatum dissectum at Hayefield.com

…and ‘Looking Glass’ Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), below with ‘Kwanso Variegated’ tawny daylily (Hemerocallis fulva).

‘Looking Glass’ Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) with ‘Kwanso Variegated’ tawny daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) at Hayefield.com

If you’re interested in learning more about structural coloring in leaves, check out Color in Plants or Structural Coloration. I also recommend the article Structural Color for some interesting insights as to why  some plants create these sorts of adaptations. For instance, I remember learning that leaves develop hairs or waxy coatings to reduce water loss, but according to this article, these modifications actually serve a variety of other roles.

Of course, you don’t need to know the hows and whys to enjoy silvers, grays, and blue-greens in your garden. Some of my personal favorites (besides those I’ve already shown) include some nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)…

Tropaeolum majus 'Black Velvet' at Hayefield.com

(Above is ‘Black Velvet’; below is ‘Empress of India’ with ‘Inky Fingers’ coleus.)

Tropaeolum majus 'Empress of India' and 'Inky Fingers' coleus at Hayefield.com

…giant coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima), below…

Rudbeckia maxima at Hayefield.com

…ghost bramble (Rubus thibetanus), below…

Rubus thibetanus at Hayefield.com

…’Berggarten’ sage (Salvia officinalis)…

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' with Thymus x citriodorus at Hayefield.com

…silver sage (Salvia argentea), below…

Salvia argentea with Salvia 'Marcus' and Iris pallida 'Argentea Variegata' at Hayefield.com

Lysimachia atropurpurea, below…

Lysimachia atropurpurea at Hayefield.com

…’Purple Emperor’ sedum, below…

Sedum 'Purple Emperor' with Berberis 'Crimson Pygmy' at Hayefield.com

…’Silver Falls’ silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea), below…

Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls' at Hayefield.com

…milk thistle (Silybum marianum), below…

Silybum marianum at Hayefield.com

…dusty meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum), below…

Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum with Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' at Hayefield.com

…silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea), below…

Salix alba var. sericea at Hayefield.com

…Russian sage (Perovskia), below…

Perovskia and 'Gourmet Popcorn' rose at Hayefield.com

…honeywort (Cerinthe major), below…

Cerinthe major and Perovskia at Hayefield.com

…tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca), below…

Nicotiana glauca at Hayefield.com

Euphorbia nicaaensis, below…

Euphorbia nicaaensis at Hayefield.com

…and Euphorbia ‘Excalibur, below’.

Euphorbia 'Excalibur' at Hayefield.com

To finish, an assortment of silvers and grays in combination with other colors of flowers and foliage, starting with some pairings for shade.

Hosta 'Halcyon' with Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea' at Hayefield.com

Above is ‘Halcyon’ hosta with golden meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria ‘Aurea’). Below is wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) with ‘Ravenswing’ cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris).

Tradescantia zebrina with Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing' at Hayefield.com

Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) with Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea at Hayefield.com

Above is Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) with Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea. Below is ‘Pewter Lace’ Japanese painted fern with featherleaf rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata).

‘Pewter Lace’ Japanese painted fern with featherleaf rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata) at Hayefield.com

‘Krossa Regal’ hosta with Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea at Hayefield.com

Above is ‘Krossa Regal’ hosta with Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea. Below is ‘Blue Cadet’ hosta with variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’).

‘Blue Cadet’ hosta with variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’) at Hayefield.com

Silver sage (Salvia argentea), rue (Ruta graveolens), ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), and ‘Cora White’ rose periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) at Hayefield.com

Some herby silvery, gray, and blue combos for sun, starting above with silver sage (Salvia argentea), rue (Ruta graveolens), ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), and ‘Cora White’ rose periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Below is ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia, ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil, ‘Black Adder’ agastache, English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), ‘Hot and Spicy’ oregano, lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), and silver thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Argentatus’).

‘Powis Castle’ artemisia, ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil, ‘Black Adder’ agastache, English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), ‘Hot and Spicy’ oregano, lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), and silver thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Argentatus’) at Hayefield.com

‘Berggarten’ sage (Salvia officinalis) with ‘Kwanso Variegated’ tawny daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) at Hayefield.com

‘Berggarten’ sage (Salvia officinalis): above with ‘Kwanso Variegated’ tawny daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) and below with English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and ‘Grey Lady Plymouth’ scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens).

Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' with English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and ‘Grey Lady Plymouth’ scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) at Hayefield.com

Dwarf curry plant (Helichrysum italicum subsp. microphyllum) against black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) at Hayefield.com

Above, dwarf curry plant (Helichrysum italicum subsp. microphyllum) against black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’). Below is woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) with ‘Snow Flurry’ heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides).

Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) with ‘Snow Flurry’ heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) at Hayefield.com

‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum), and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), spike gayfeather (Liatris spicata), and ‘Temptation’ Culver’s root (Veronicastrum) at Hayefield.com

This grassy grouping features ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum), and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora). In the above photo (mid-July of 2010), they’re with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), spike gayfeather (Liatris spicata), and ‘Temptation’ Culver’s root (Veronicastrum). Below (in late July of 2012), they’re with orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida).

‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum), and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) with Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida at Hayefield.com

‘Heavy Metal’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) with Geum foliage and Justicia brandegeana at Hayefield.com

Above, ‘Heavy Metal’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) with mounds of geum foliage and the flowers of shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana). Below is ‘Dallas Blues’ switch grass with teasel (Dipsacum fullonum).

‘Dallas Blues’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) with teasel (Dipsacum fullonum) at Hayefield.com

Chinese dunce cap (Orostachys iwarenge) with silver thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Argenteus’) at Hayefield.com

And some succulents…above, Chinese dunce cap (Orostachys iwarenge) with silver thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Argenteus’). Below is ‘Autumn Fire’ sedum with ‘Spring Green’ tulip and the leaves of white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’).

‘Autumn Fire’ sedum with ‘Spring Green’ tulip and the leaves of white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’) at Hayefield.com

Below, Echeveria glauca and ‘Silver Spoons’ with jade plant (Crassula).

Echeveria glauca and ‘Silver Spoons’ with jade plant (Crassula) at Hayefield.com

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ with dwarf white fan columbine (Aquilegia flabellata ‘Nana Alba’), ‘Marcus’ salvia, ‘Frosty Fire’ dianthus, ‘Silver Brocade’ artemisia, and ‘Brookside’ geranium at Hayefield.com

Some miscellaneous perennials…above, Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ with dwarf white fan columbine (Aquilegia flabellata ‘Nana Alba’), ‘Marcus’ salvia, ‘Frosty Fire’ dianthus, ‘Silver Brocade’ artemisia, and ‘Brookside’ geranium. Below, silver sage (Salvia argentea)—which is actually a biennial—with white-variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’) and ‘Caradonna’ salvia.

Salvia argentea with white-variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’) and ‘Caradonna’ salvia at Hayefield.com

Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) with creeping thyme (Thymus praecox Coccineus Group) and Spanish stonecrop (Sedum hispanicum) at Hayefield.com

Of course, you can’t talk about silver plants without including lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina). Above is the straight species with creeping thyme (Thymus praecox Coccineus Group) and Spanish stonecrop (Sedum hispanicum).  And below, the selection ‘Big Ears’, which can range in appearance from near white to silver to sage green, depending on the time of year and the growing conditions. Here it’s with Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) and the finished flowerheads of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘NCHA1’).

Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears' with Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) and the finished flowerheads of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘NCHA1’) at Hayefield.com

Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’ with dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis), rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’), Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), and Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) at Hayefield.com

Above is ‘Big Ears’ with dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis), rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’), Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), and Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). Below, it’s with Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’).

Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears' with Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’) at Hayefield.com

Oh, one more: the flower stalks of regular lamb’s ears with common chives (Allium schoenoprasum).

Stachys byzantina with with common chives (Allium schoenoprasum) at Hayefield.com

Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) with ‘Toffee Twist’ sedge (Carex flagellifera) at Hayefield.com

Moving on…above, silvery common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) with ‘Toffee Twist’ sedge (Carex flagellifera). Below, gray-green ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta) with love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) and ‘Amora’ coleus.

 ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta) with love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) and ‘Amora’ coleus at Hayefield.com

‘Powis Castle’ wormwood (Artemisia) with ‘Snow Fairy’ bluebeard (Caryopteris divaricata), white South African foxglove (Ceratotheca triloba ‘Alba’), and Browallia americana at Hayefield.com

Above, ‘Powis Castle’ wormwood (Artemisia) with ‘Snow Fairy’ bluebeard (Caryopteris divaricata), white South African foxglove (Ceratotheca triloba ‘Alba’), and Browallia americana. Below, budded ‘Autumn Fire’ sedum with white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’), ‘Heavy Metal’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum), and—in the wagon—young plants of Solanum quitoense.

‘Autumn Fire’ sedum with white Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’), ‘Heavy Metal’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum), and young plants of Solanum quitoense at Hayefield.com

And below, one more perennial combo in this color group: sea kale (Crambe maritima), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), ‘Sarastro’ bellflower (Campanula), and Loraine Sunshine oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Helhan’).

Sea kale (Crambe maritima), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), ‘Sarastro’ bellflower (Campanula), and Loraine Sunshine oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Helhan’) at Hayefield.com

If you want to experiment with some silvers without committing to perennials, there are lots you can easily grow from seed or buy as annual transplants. Below is one: silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus), here with ’Silver Drop’ eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii).

Silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus) with ’Silver Drop’ eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii) at Hayefield.com

‘Silver Falls’ silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) with ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’ aptenia (Dorotheanus bellidiformis) at Hayefield.com

‘Silver Falls’ silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) is one I make a point of starting every year. It usually also produces some self-sown seedlings. Above it’s mingling with ‘Mezoo Trailing Red’ aptenia (Dorotheanus bellidiformis); below, it’s pooled around ‘Obsidian’ heuchera.

‘Silver Falls’ silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea) with Heuchera 'Obsidian' at Hayefield.com

‘Ruby Perfection’ cabbage with ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta) and ‘Silver and Gold’ yellow-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) at Hayefield.com

Above, ‘Ruby Perfection’ cabbage with ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta) and ‘Silver and Gold’ yellow-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea). Below, ‘Red Russian’ (‘Russian Red’) kale with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

‘Red Russian’ (‘Russian Red’) kale with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) at Hayefield.com

‘Lacinato’ (or ‘Nero di Toscana’) kale with Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’) at Hayefield.com

Above, ‘Lacinato’ (or ‘Nero di Toscana’) kale with Tiger Eyes sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’). Below, couve tronchuda (Portuguese kale) with ‘Goodness Grows’ spike speedwell (Veronica spicata) and ‘Silver Posie’ thyme (Thymus vulgaris). 

Couve tronchuda (Portuguese kale) with ‘Goodness Grows’ spike speedwell (Veronica spicata) and ‘Silver Posie’ thyme (Thymus vulgaris) at Hayefield.com

Sometimes I can get cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) to overwinter, but not often. Still, it can form a substantial foliage display as an annual from an early spring sowing. Below, it’s with ‘Cora White’ rose periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), ‘Little Bunny’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), and ‘Powis Castle’ wormwood (Artemisia).

Cynara cardunculus with ‘Cora White’ rose periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), ‘Little Bunny’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), and ‘Powis Castle’ wormwood (Artemisia) at Hayefield.com

Russian sage (Perovskia) with ‘Hella Lacy’ New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) at Hayefield.com

And finally, a few woody plants. Above, the sub-shrub Russian sage (Perovskia) with ‘Hella Lacy’ New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae); below, blueleaf rose (Rosa glauca) with ‘Carin’ Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum).

Blueleaf rose (Rosa glauca) with ‘Carin’ Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) at Hayefield.com

Below, wickedly spiny but stunningly silvery ghost bramble (Rubus thibetanus) in mid-July with drumstick chives (Allium sphaerocephalon) and Dakota Goldcharm spirea (Spiraea ‘Mertyann’).

Ghost bramble (Rubus thibetanus) in mid-July with drumstick chives (Allium sphaerocephalon) and Dakota Goldcharm spirea (Spiraea ‘Mertyann’) at Hayefield.com

Last, but in no way least, silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea), below with smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens), Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), and giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha).

Silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea), with smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens), Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), Amsonia, and giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha) at Hayefield.com

Well, that all made seeing silver a bit more enjoyable, though I’d still rather see it from foliage than from ice. Speaking of ice…if you’d like to file your own official “Airing of Grievance” against winter—or too much rain, or not enough rain, or anything else, for that matter—I highly recommend checking out Formal Notices: Fifty Fill-in-the-Blank Forms for Everyday Correspondence. You can also see a sampling of the forms at Bureau of Communication; they’re absolutely brilliant.

Trees on ice at Hayefield.com

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brenda on February 15, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Gorgeous as always! Thanks to you, I’ve added another few plants to my must have list, including dunce cap sedum. I would add for you – veronica incana. Love the tidy silver leaves and long cool purple spikes.

    Good morning, Brenda! Ooh, yeah – that’s a beauty. I did try it once, but it didn’t last long enough to get a decent photo of it. On the whole, I have mixed luck with the silvery/hairy plants here. Artemisias, for the most part, are annuals for me, but lavenders perform pretty well, even with the moist, acid soil. Go figure!
    -Nan

  2. Posted by Lisa at Greenbow on February 15, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Thank you for these lovely warm colors. Your poor boys. This winter is one for the books. Maybe if we all filled out the Airing of Grievance statement it would make a difference. At least that made me smile.

    It probably wouldn’t help at all, Lisa. But then, it gave the two of us a chuckle, so maybe it did do some good after all. The boys thank you for your sympathy. They think they deserve a lot more than they’re getting, and I’m giving them all I can.
    -Nan

  3. Posted by Sue Gilmour on February 15, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Love the complaint form!! We too have been having a huge snow storm every week followed by warm temps and rain, lucky for my garden all the snow doesn’t go, I’m always afraid for the plants in the winter, too many thaws then cold temps. Your boys don’t look too upset, especially with Mom looking after them so well. I have ducks and a rescued turkey that come out almost everyday, the chickens not so much, they prefer their warmish house. I try to put lots of white and silver in the garden as I get carried away with colour! Thanks for the review, more things for me to try, you’ve got me putting kale in the garden! I even put ornamental peppers in last year, lots of fun. Have a great day!! TTFN…Sue

    Hi Sue! Believe me, it’s years like this that I’m happy that I don’t have critters that are any shorter than the boys. And wow, it’s tough on horses too, with all the ice. I can’t ever say I’m glad I no longer have my Sheltie, but I know she would have hated being stuck on shoveled paths and not being able to run. On a more positive note, it’s great to hear that you’re already thinking about the new growing season. Have fun with your seeds!
    -Nan

  4. That was a nice break from the monotonous tones of winter although your ‘sparkle’ pictures were delightful. More snow on the way I hear. Another month or so and then it had better be spring.

    Ugh…it’s snowing again right now, with more to come on Monday night. The odds of having anything to show for March’s Bloom Day seem pretty slim right now. But then, snow is better than the incessant rain the poor gardeners in England are having to deal with. Let’s hope things settle down for all of us soon. Stay warm, Layanee!
    -Nan

  5. Posted by melanie on February 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Hi, Nan. Everyone is grumpy here in N.E. Ohio too. I have to say that gray and silver is my favorite color in the garden. It goes with everything. Lovely pictures on a very gray day.
    Melanie

    Hey there, Melanie. I’m guessing that “grumpy” could apply to just about everyone in the Northern Hemisphere right about now. I think we could all benefit from seeing some green–and gray and silver, too, as long as they’re from leaves and not precipitation.
    -Nan

  6. Posted by christine on February 15, 2014 at 9:43 am

    beautiful!

    Thanks for stopping by, Christine. Have a great day!
    -Nan

  7. Posted by Karen on February 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I love your garden and posts! A beautiful way to spend Saturday morning with a cup of tea. Wish we lived closer, it would be a delight to be walking in the sunshine with you around your garden. But, this is the next best thing. Thank you. Also, thank you again for sharing seeds with us last fall. Can’t wait for spring.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the tour, Karen. Thinking about seeds is a much more cheerful way to cope with this crazy winter. I can’t wait to get through my work so I can get my own sowing going. I wish you great luck with your own seeds!
    -Nan

  8. What a treat on yet another gray day to see how beautiful these non-colors can be. I had smugly invited a friend from cold Connecticut to visit my central Virginia garden at the end of February, when, I assured her, there would be some early bulbs, snow drops, chionodoxa, maybe some little tulips. Well, pride goeth before a fall (as some Olympic contenders have recently learned). It doesn’t look promising at all, gardenwise, so alternative plans are being made for warm food and conviviality, indoors.
    Thank you for the wonderful pictures, as ever.

    Poor Marcia. But really, who could have imagined that we’d have a winter like this? You can always play the “You should see the garden next month!” card. I’m sure you’ll have a lovely visit anyway, discussing plans for the upcoming gardening season. Have fun!
    -Nan

  9. Posted by John Drexel on February 15, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Nan,

    Just got back from a long dreary winter walk in a less than picturesque snow covered scene. Days old snow falls are stale and lack freshness on many levels. There was a cold light rain falling and even our English Springer Spaniel, who never says never, looked like he had enough. I sat at the kitchen counter hunched over a bowl of warm oat meal. As the iPad screen lit up your Hayefield post rose like a welcoming morning sunrise from the horizon. Thanks, your timing was exquisite.

    Another well thought out and interesting post. Loved the “Notice” and nice to observe the boys enduring the weather. Your combinations are always artful compositions to be admired and emulated. I know you have thousands of images – please continue to share them, there never get stale.

    Thank you

    Good morning, John! So, even Charlie has had enough of the snow, huh? It’s snowing so hard right now that I can hardly even see the boys in the barn. I imagine that the animals will be as happy as we are when spring arrives. It looks like we might be getting at least a bit of a break next week. In the meantime, have a great weekend!
    -Nan

    -Nan

  10. Posted by diane on February 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Hey…I got another one of your blogs!
    Your old mail lady, Diane :)

    Thanks for letting me know, Diane. I hope your new route is going well. We miss you!
    -Nan

  11. Posted by Barbara ds on February 15, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Beautiful, Nan. Thank you so much. Our silvers are looking droopy, wet and lonely, awaiting the company of their dormant pals. Perhaps I should take my laptop outside and show them your gorgeous pics.

    If you think it’ll help, Barbara, give it a try! It’s going to be a long while before I could do a similar experiment. I can’t help but think, though, that mine might be better off this winter, what with the consistent cold and snow cover, than after our usual soggy, alternating cold-and-mild conditions.
    -Nan

  12. Just had to move my snowdrop seminars forward a week into the beginning of March, and I am still not feeling confident about stuff being up. Not to mention how far behind I will be on mail order shipping of snowdrops. I potted them on February 13 last year. Poor alpacas, my cats are going crazy but no worse than me.

    Oh no – I hadn’t even thought of the ramifications for nursery owners, Carolyn. So much for witch hazel festivals and snowdrop celebrations, huh? It does look like there’s some hope of melting later next week; let’s keep our fingers crossed.! Funny that you mentioned your cats: I noticed that the feral cats around here disappeared for the last few weeks, but they’re back now, walking on top of the snow. It’s really something to see them prowling around at window level.
    -Nan

    -Nan

  13. Thanks for the wonderful survey of gray, silver and blue foliage complete with your typically lovely plant combinations. I love the complaint form – do you think Drought will accept an order to vacate California’s premises? Perhaps I need to file a notice with Rain too, ordering an immediate return?

    Clearly my complaint against winter has not yet been addressed, Kris, but you know how slow bureaucracy can move. Maybe you’d have more luck filing the Unsolicited Feedback form against the drought, and perhaps an Official Invitation for the rain to return?
    -Nan

  14. Posted by Allan Robinson on February 16, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Hi Nan, thank you for another great posting. I hope and pray that the snow clears soon for you and your boys. Love the complaints form lol. It sure has been a strange Winter, you with all the snow and ice yet very mild but so much rain here in England, each bring their own problems. Still it isn’t too long until Spring (hopefully). As always your photos give me inspiration and thanks for including some shade pairings. I must get myself one of the large blue grasses (Panicum Virgatum Heavy Metal maybe). I try to use colourful foliage as it gives longer lasting interest than flowers. God bless

    Hey, Allan! I hope you and your Shelties haven’t gotten mildewed by this point. ‘Heavy Metal’ is a good choice if you’re looking for a 4- to 5-foot, blue grass. But if you have room for something larger (6 to 7feet tall), I highly recommend ‘Dallas Blues’; its leaves are much wider and lighter blue, and its tiered, pinkish flower plumes are very elegant.
    -Nan

  15. I love what a good ice coating can do to a garden, especially with reddish stems or branches. Just think: this is going to be a spring that most of us will *really* appreciate this year!

    You always show me new plants, and this time Allium karataviense really tickled my fancy. I’m going to keep that on my “try this” list!

    Wondering how you keep your kales so free of caterpillar “love”…

    Hi there, Alan. Some years the cabbage worms are almost non-existent, and sometimes–like the last two years–they are terrible. I hate bothering with any sort of spraying, but I’m determined to try some sort of countermeasure if they look like they are going to be as bad again this year.
    -Nan

  16. Thanks, Nan! But how’d you manage such an exhaustive and informative post on silver foliage without using one of my favorite garden adjectives: glaucous! The success of your plant combinations makes even the more common silver “go to” plants seem fresh. One question: in your photo that features Rue as the central plant, is that really Stachys “Big Ears” with scalloped leaves? OK, 2nd question: does your garden include Euphorbia myrsinites? That’s a fun silver texture.

    Hi Eric! I have to admit that I dislike the word “glaucous”–it makes me think of slimy slugs (kind of gloopy mucous)–so I tend to avoid using it. I suppose I ought to have included it at least once in this post, though.

    In the photo in question, the plant in the foreground, with the scalloped leaves, is the silver sage (Salvia argentea). The ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears are behind the rue.

    Despite several tries, I’ve not had luck with Euphorbia myrsinites here. I generally have poor luck with most euphorbias, except for the E. nicaaensis, which is rooted into rocks that edge a bed in the side garden.
    -Nan

  17. Hi Nan! Your brother here to complain about the winter. We have soo much damage from the d@$# snow and ice. I’m dreading to see how much work I have to do when this winter breaks. I’m actually working out (just walking lol) to get ready! I hope everyone who bought the Jakoti Shears will get a chance to use them…someday!

    Hey, bro. My Jakotis are next to the door, ready and waiting to be used as soon as the snow disappears–but it looks like that’ll be a while yet!
    -Nan

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