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GARDENS BY THE BAY

Papaver somniferum - Opium Poppy

SILVER FOLIAGE PERENNIALS & THEIR COMPANIONS - 2



Part of the family of colours called "white", silver can be a gray-green hue, a gray hue or a silver hue, all with darker and lighter tones. Gray-greens and grays will blend with nearly any colour and are excellent when used to separate discordant colours.

Note, however, that a pure silver, like white itself, should be used with care as it can overwhelm everything nearby.


* Watch for the animated hummingbird and butterfly with the plants that attract them. *
The deer icon indicates plants that deer are not usually attracted to.

The best time and method to propagate plants can be found on our image-intensive PROPAGATION page.

To help your plants grow their best, check out our FERTILIZATION page.

To create your own plant partnerships based on tried and true color theory, check out our GARDEN COLOR page.

To see if a particular plant is on this page press Ctrl+F, type in the name, then click the Find button.


CORNUS

Dogwood, a shrub that can remain attractive throughout the year, has some forms with silvery foliage. Plant them in full sun to part shade and enjoy the show.

Cornus alba var. 'Argenteo-Marginata':  Silverleaf Dogwood

    above:  Eranthis hyemalis, pale Narcissus forms
There are other ornamental forms of Dogwood with showy spring flowers. Check them out at the link below.

  • white-flowered Dogwood



  • CYNARA

    Cardoon, with wonderful silvery-grey foliage, makes an excellent albeit huge and dramatic background plant. Only hardy to Zone 7, it is worth growing as an annual in colder zones.

    Cynara cardunculus:  

      with:   4' tall Euphorbia palustris (Marsh Spurge)
        for foliage contrast with:  Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Blue Stem grass) & Stachys 'Big Ears'

      DIANTHUS

      Pinks come in a variety of forms with silvery foliage, usually with a grey or bluish tint.

      Dianthus arenarius:  Sand Pinks, 8"/20 cm, fringed petals, fragrant white flowers, silvery-blue foliage

        white Dianthus arenarius
        in front of:  Iris x germanica
          between:  Nepeta x faassenii & Iberis sempervirens
            over bulbs:  Iris reticulata, Iris histrioides major
          Dianthus deltoides 'Mrs. Sinkins':  12", highly fragrant double white flowers, steel-grey foliage
            with:  dark foliage plants i.e. Heuchera
          Dianthus plumarius 'Ballad Blend':  colours include white, pink, red, rose, salmon, 15", silvery-blue somewhat spiky foliage
            Dianthus plumarius 'Ballad Blend'
            note:  some flowers are "banded", all have dark eyes, may rebloom slightly in late summer, not as fragrant as Cottage Pinks
              synonym:  Dianthus Ballade Strain
                with:  lavender, Nepeta x faassenii
                  with:  pink Rosa of various hues
                For a multitude of other Dianthus forms, more information about their culture and preferred sites and numerous images, be sure to try some of the links below.

              • edging Dianthus forms
              • pink-flowered Dianthus
              • red-flowered Dianthus
              • white-flowered Dianthus
              • yellow-flowered Dianthus



              • ECHINOPS

                Globe Thistle, its foliage a lovely grey-green, nevertheless gives an over-all silvery appearance to the spot it normally occupies as a backdrop in a garden setting.

                Echinops:  Globe Thistle

                  Echinops ritro - Globe Thistle
                  with:  Achillea 'Red Beauty', Achillea x 'Moonshine', Aster novi-belgii 'Benary's Composition Mix',
                    Heuchera sanguinea, Lavandula, Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead', Liatris
                  with:  Hemerocallis (lemon yellow), canary yellow 'Hyperion', light orange 'Painted Lady', golden-yellow 'Stella d'Oro'
                    with:  Phlox paniculata 'Mount Fujiyama' (an excellent white)
                      with:  Lilium 'Thunderbolt' (an apricot Trumpet type), Perovskia atriplicifolia, Rudbeckia laciniata 'Goldquelle'
                        beside:  Alcea, Alcea rugosa (soft yellow)
                          in moist soil with:  Ligularia stenocephala 'The Rocket'
                            in dry soil with:  Verbena including Verbena bonariensis
                              combined with:  Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan', Scabiosa 'Pink Mist' & Verbascum 'Benary's Hybrids'
                                combined with: Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan', Liatris ligulistylis, Alcea rugosa & Buddleia 'Red Plume'
                              Echinops ritro 'Taplow Blue':  steel-blue flowers, 2" across, foliage 6-8" long, Zone 6
                                with:  Achillea x 'Coronation Gold', Kniphofia 'Royal Castle Hybrids'
                              Echinops ruthenicus:  bright blue
                                with:  Hemerocallis (especially lemon or creamy yellow ones
                                  with:  Hemerocallis 'Ice Cap' (pale cream-petalled, lemon-yellow throated)
                                Follow the links below for more ideas and information.

                              • Globe Thistle to attract Butterflies
                              • blue-flowered Globe Thistle



                              • ERYNGIUM

                                Sea Holly, otherwise known as Eryngo, blooms in summer and fall and thrives in full sun and dry soil. Steely-blue flowers steal the show but the subtly silvery foliage is handsome even before the blooms appear. Choose the site carefully. These are tap-rooted perennials which are difficult to move once established.

                                Eryngium:  

                                  with:  Artemisia x 'Powis Castle'
                                For an amazing number of forms of this wonderful perennial, information about their care, and plant partnership ideas, just follow the link below.

                              • Simply Special Perennials - Sea Holly's many forms



                              • EUPHORBIA

                                You will be delighted with the effect created by the silvery foliage of some forms of Spurge.

                                Euphorbia myrsinites:  Donkey-Tail Spurge, Myrtle Euphorbia, blue-gray foliage

                                  Euphorbia myrsinites - Donkey-Tail Spurge
                                  where:  at border edges, to drape over rocks
                                    seen above with:  purple Aubrieta in the spring
                                  Follow the link below for more forms of Spurge and the companions that suit them best.

                                • yellow-flowered Spurge



                                • FESTUCA

                                  Even Ornamental Grasses can possess a silvery effect, such as that of some of the Fescues.

                                  Festuca:  Blue Fescue, under 12"x8-12"


                                  GYPSOPHILA

                                  Baby's Breath, with its airy flowers, is as useful in the garden as it is in any flower arrangement. Consider as well the foliage - it can be blue-green to a gray-green which assumes a silvery appearance.

                                  Gypsophila paniculata:  Baby's Breath

                                  Gypsophila paniculata 'Double White':  Baby's Breath Gypsophila paniculata 'Perfecta':  double white Baby's Breath Not all forms of Baby's Breath have silvery foliage, or for that matter, white flowers. Follow the links before for alternatives.

                                • pink-flowered Baby's Breath
                                • white-flowered Baby's Breath



                                • HELICTOTRICHON

                                  Blue Oat Grass is often described more as a metallic blue colour than silver or grey. There are those who think its overall effect is silvery. However you describe it, this grass will fare best in well-drained, fertile soil in full sun. Good air circulation will ensure handsome foliage. Hot, humid summers are definitively not to its liking. Do not cut this grass back in spring as with other ornamental grasses. Use your fingers to comb out old, loose foliage.

                                  Helictotrichon sempervirens:  


                                  HEUCHERA

                                  Coral Bells, in its myriad forms, has nearly always been about the foliage. The wonderful variations create quite a sensation when there is a haze of silver above the underlying patterns and colours. The degree of silvering on the leaves can range from heavy to subtle. The cultivars mentioned below only touch the surface of the many new and wonderful silver Heuchera forms widely available today.

                                  CULTIVARS WITH HEAVILY SILVERED FOLIAGE

                                • Heuchera 'Fantasia':  highly silvered, lobed foliage looks shimmery, pink flowers
                                • Heuchera 'Geisha's Fan:  8"x15", elegant, silver foliage with charcoal veining, light pink flowers on 18" stems
                                • Heuchera x 'Silver Scrolls':  18-24"x18", bronze, silver & maroon foliage etched wine-red, pink buds open to white blooms


                                • CULTIVARS WITH MORE SUBTLY SILVERED FOLIAGE

                                • Heuchera 'Autumn Haze':  8"x18", crimson foliage with silver veins, pink flowers on 24" stalks
                                • Heuchera 'Can Can':  metallic silver foliage, heavy ruffling at edges, foliage to 9", flower stems to 26"
                                • Heuchera 'Cascade Dawn':  8"x17", deep purple foliage with lavender & silvery tones, flowers on 26" stems
                                • Heuchera 'Green Spice':  silvery-white foliage with green veining, turning purple in colder weather, cream flowers on 28" stems
                                • Heuchera 'Guardian Angel':  young foliage is bright purple, becoming heavily silvered with age, white flowers on purple stems
                                • Heuchera 'Plum Pudding':  plum-coloured, silver-tinged foliage to 10", insignificant white flowers
                                • Heuchera 'Quicksilver':  metallic silver foliage with bronze veins, pale pink flowers age to white, to 18"
                                • Heuchera 'Raspberry Ice':  two-toned pink flowers, silver veined dark raspberry foliage to 12", flower stems to 24"
                                • Heuchera 'Silver Indiana':  silver and burgundy marbled foliage, white bell-shaped flowers, foliage to 9", stems to 36"
                                • Heuchera 'Silver Lode':  pink buds open into white flowers, silver-marbled foliage to 12", flower stems 30-36"
                                • Heuchera 'Stormy Seas':  silver, lavender, pewter and charcoal grey, ruffled foliage to 8", stems to 28"


                                • For many more forms of Heuchera and the companion plants that suit them best, try some of the links below.

                                • Coral Bells edgers
                                • Coral Bells to attract Hummingbirds
                                • pink-flowered Coral Bells
                                • purple-foliaged Coral Bells
                                • red-flowered Coral Bells
                                • white-flowered Coral Bells
                                • variegated foliage Coral Bells



                                • LAMIUM

                                  The groundcover plant, Dead Nettle, always prettier than its common name would suggest, has many forms with silvery accents that shine in shady areas of the garden. Whether the silvering is along the edges, down the centre or covering the leaves, the effect is always handsome.

                                  Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver':  4"x12", pink flowers, small silvery-green leaves, tinted purple in fall

                                  Lamium maculatum 'Shell Pink':  green with silver along stem (silvery striped) If you want more choices, use Google Images to view some of the several forms below, then find your own perfect companions for the shady spots where you plant them.

                                • Lamium maculatum 'Album':  4"x12", white flowers, silver-striped foliage
                                • Lamium maculatum 'Chequers':  4"x12", rosy-coloured flowers, small leaves, dark green with a silver stripe
                                • Lamium maculatum 'Pink Chequers':  4"x12", bright pink flowers, silver-striped dark green leaves
                                • Lamium maculatum 'Red Nancy':  4"x12", true pink flowers, silver foliage
                                • Lamum 'Rice Creek Gardens':   plum-coloured flowers, silvery foliage


                                • Rich combination plantings with this perennial and suggestions for its care are suggested at the links below.

                                • pink-flowered Lamiums
                                • white-flowered Lamiums
                                • Lamiums in shade



                                • LAVANDULA

                                  Lavender has grey-green foliage that shows to best effect when planted together in masses. Try it and see for yourself.

                                  Lavandula angustifolia:  

                                    Lavandula angustifolia
                                    note:  watch for a better image of both the foliage and flowers here in 2007
                                  More attractive forms of lavender can be found at the links below.

                                • blue Lavender forms
                                • purple Lavender forms



                                • LEYMUS

                                  Another warm season Ornamental Grass, Lyme Grass, or wild rye, has a somewhat blue-grey appearance to its foliage. Beware of its invasive nature however and take steps from the start to curb its enthusiastic spread. If you are determined to give this genus a try, some of its forms are listed below. Do your own research to see which might be right for your purposes. The most attractive form is probably the first in the list. Some forms are in the Elymus genus, some in the Leymus genus. My updated information about the forms below is from Rick Darke's Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ornamental Grasses.

                                • Leymus arenarius 'Glaucus:  Blue Lyme Grass, Zone 4
                                • Leymus arenarius 'Findhorn':  wild rye, a compact cultivar
                                • Elymus canadensis:  Canadian wild rye, Zone 3, of little ornamental value
                                • Leymus condensatus:  Giant wild rye, Zone 7
                                • Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince':  Zone 7
                                • Elymus glaucus:  Blue wild rye, Zone 5, clump-forming, densely tufted
                                • Elymus magellanicus:  Blue Wheatgrass, Zone 6, highly ornamental, a clump-former, the most intense blue foliage of all grasses
                                • Leymus mollis:  Pacific dune grass, Sea Lyme Grass, Zone 4
                                • Leymus racemosus 'Glaucus':  Giant dune grass, Zone 4


                                • Find more information by following the link below to our Ornamental Grasses page.

                                • Lyme Grass Ornamental Grass



                                • LIMONIUM

                                  Sea Lavender is sometimes called a Baby's Breath look-alike to be used as a "filler" in the garden. Its flowers are produced in airy clusters and are good used as dried flowers as well as in fresh arrangements. With a preference for average to rich, moist, well-drained soil in full sun or part shade this plant is sure to find a suitable home somewhere in your beds. Site the plant well. Moving established plants is difficult but not impossible. To propagate, separate new crowns with roots attached from the outside of plants in spring.

                                  Limonium latifolium:  

                                    watch for a picture of this plant in summer 2007
                                  For more information about this perennial, and ideas for attractive companions, follow the links below.

                                • Sea Lavender to attract Butterflies
                                • white-flowered Sea Lavender



                                • FOR MORE SILVER FOLIAGE PERENNIALS & ORNAMENTAL GRASSES, FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW.


                                  All of our own Gardens By The Bay pages can be accessed by clicking on the links below.


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                                  PLANT PARTNERSHIPS

                                  BLUE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Geranium  |  Iris - Vinca

                                  BULBS    Allium - Hyacinthus  |  Narcissus only  |  Tulipa only  |  Minor Bulbs

                                  BUTTERFLY MAGNETS    Anaphalis - Hemerocallis  |  Liatris - Veronicastrum
                                  DAYLILIES      Spider & Unusual Form

                                  EDGERS    Arabis - Iris  |  Nepeta - Veronica

                                  FOLIAGE PERENNIALS     Alchemilla - Tanacetum

                                  HOSTA    Hosta - all

                                  HUMMINGBIRD-FRIENDLY PERENNIALS    Alcea - Salvia

                                  ORANGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Tulipa

                                  ORNAMENTAL GRASSES    Acorus - Imperata |  Miscanthus - Spodiopogon

                                  PINK PERENNIALS    Achillea - Lilium  |  Lychnis - Veronica

                                  PURPLE PERENNIALS    Aconitum - Liatris  |  Polemonium - Veronica

                                  RED PERENNIALS    Achillea - Veronica

                                  SHADE PERENNIALS    Aegopodium - Erythronium  |  Ferns - Polemonium  |  Polygonatum - Vinca

                                  SILVER FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Cerastium    |    Cornus - Limonium    |    Lunaria - Veronica

                                  SIMPLY SPECIAL PERENNIALS    Acanthus - Saxifraga

                                  WHITE PERENNIALS    Achillea - Iris  |  Kalimeris - Yucca

                                  YELLOW PERENNIALS    Achillea - Hypericum  |  Inula - Verbascum

                                  VARIEGATED-FOLIAGE PERENNIALS    Acorus - Erythronium  |  Hakonechloa - Lysimachia  |  Miscanthus - Yucca

                                  PLANT PROFILES

                                  Dianthus 'Tiny Rubies'  |  Geranium  |  Geum coccineum  |  Kerria japonica  |  Knautia macedonica

                                  Paeonia tenuifolia  |  Papaver somniferum  |  Rudbeckia  |  Salvia 'East Friesland'

                                  Trollius  |  Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'

                                  PROPAGATION

                                  DIVISION - SPRING ONLY  |   DIVISION - FALL ONLY  |   DIVISION - SPRING OR FALL  |   DO NOT DIVIDE

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