“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
I have a thing for plants with yellow foliage–they bring a contrasting verve to any planting, and as a result, perk up the appearance of a “plain Jane” green leaf. Silver foliage has that way about it, too. Gray plants temper bright flowers and lighten the shade. Apart gold and gray plants are wonderful; together they are harmonious.
My dry garden sports a palette of silver and gold foliaged plants. Many different Hebes play together nicely, wending and weaving through other plants. Hebe ‘Western Hills’ is a more upright silver blue and Hebe glaucophylla is a groundcover of sorts as it roots where it’s lax stems touch the ground. Both look swell with golden oregano (Oreganum vulgare ‘Aurea’). When speaking of plants being friends–golden oregano is a reliable confederate that has graced my garden for many a year.
Sedum ‘Angelina’ blends nicely with everything as it patiently carpets the ground. It has surrounded the plump ball that is Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Cumulus’–a dwarf conifer. The two textures and colors look pleasing in a happy accident I cannot take credit for creating. That’s the fun thing about Sedums, they are serendipitous by nature, rooting from just a broken leaf or stem unbeknownst to us control freak gardeners.
Spirea ‘White Gold’ is tending more towards green as it thrives in the semi-shade of my Western Red Cedar. Were it to get more light, it would brighten. Yet it still makes a bold partner behind a silvery Hebe.
Silver-gray foliaged plants are limited in the PNW. Since many plants have adapted that coloration to reflect the harsh rays of relentless sun, plants that thrive in our cool, maritime clime tend not to need that survival mechanism. That’s why the Blue Oat Grass is a gem–easy in sun or part shade, tolerant of different types of soil, it’s a top notch companion to many a plant.
The variegated yuccas with their combo of yellow and bluish gray striped leaves fit in perfectly. They cavort with the yellow barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’) or the fuzzy grey of the Halmium lasianthum formosum ‘Sandling’ equally well.
A single plant of Fascicularia pitcairnifolia in the dry garden proves that I am an optimist at heart. It has a steely gray, spiny, upright habit like an agave or yucca, but is actually a terrestrial bromeliad of marginal hardiness . It’s got one winter under it’s belt and if it lives another, I may have to research what it’s common name is in Chile, since with a Latin name like that, I need something a bit easier to remember. Obviously, I’m hoping my new silver plant friend will be long time garden companion.
So, everyone sing with me: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold”.
© Colleen Miko, 2012