FIRE & ICE

Team aro­matic ever-greys with flam­boy­ant flow­ers, fo­liage, stems and berries

Garden Answers (UK) - - Celebrate -

Au­tumn’s fiery fo­liage teams well with ice-cool sil­ver fo­liage plants. Th­ese aro­matic ever-greys are mainly Mediter­ranean so they need an open, sunny site in sum­mer. Don’t cut them back be­fore win­ter bites; their fo­liage pro­vides in­ter­est as it fades to icy white. Culi­nary sage, Salvia of­fic­i­nalis, comes in many forms, but the most sub­stan­tial is large-leaved ‘Berggarten’. The thickly tex­tured grey-green fo­liage is rounder and the flow­ers spikes larger and paler. Use with a pur­ple-leaved sage from the Pur­puras­cens Group and you’ll get a crisp con­trast of dam­son and stain­less steel. You can also cre­ate sil­ver roundels with later-flow­er­ing la­vandins (La­van­dula in­ter­me­dia). They’re not as hardy as English laven­der, but pro­duce tall stems topped by ta­per­ing flow­ers above rounded bushes. In win­ter the felted fo­liage of L. in­ter­me­dia Dutch Group looks al­most white. Cot­ton laven­der also forms a fine mound and San­tolina pin­nata neapoli­tana ‘Ed­ward Bowles’ has finely di­vided fo­liage and cream sum­mer flow­ers. To form round mounds, trim both lightly in spring. For some­thing more up­right, Artemisia lu­dovi­ciana ‘Va­lerie Fin­nis’ is a worm­wood with jagged fo­liage, while Rus­sian sage, per­ovskia ‘Blue Spire’, pro­vides a steely oc­to­pus of white, downy stems cov­ered in mid-blue flow­ers. The best win­ter skele­ton of all, it’s hardy and can tol­er­ate damper po­si­tions. For a front-of-the-bor­der sil­ver, Euphor­bia myrsinites has pros­trate stems topped with lime-green clus­ters in spring. Into this icy sea of sil­ver, drop an in­fu­sion of colour from later-flow­er­ing peren­ni­als, such as gar­net-flow­ered pen­ste­mon ‘An­denken en Friedrich Hahn’, dark-leaved hy­lotele­phium ‘Pur­ple Em­peror’, Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis or dark dahlia ‘Karma Choc’. All flower into au­tumn, al­though the dahlia will suc­cumb in frost so you may want to fleece it on cold nights. Colour­ful shrubs also work well be­hind a swathe of sil­ver plants and low-grow­ing spin­dle Euony­mus ala­tus ‘Com­pactus’ colours up to lip­stick-pink in Septem­ber, while Siberian dog­wood Cor­nus alba ‘Sibir­ica’ dis­plays warm-red stems. Or, use rose hips: the mod­est, co­coa-brown flagons of arch­ing grey-leaved Rosa glauca, or large, round al­most­tan­ger­ine hips of lower grow­ing Rosa ru­gosa ‘Fru Dag­mar Has­trup’.

Scar­let-stemmed cor­nus ‘Mid­win­ter Fire’ fizzes against a cool sea of sil­very­blue Fes­tuca glauca ‘Eli­jah Blue’ and Pi­nus mugo ‘Carsten’s Win­ter­gold’

❤ CFalupfftiy­onPein nhies­ree­tum vil­lo­sum with pth­laeester­ac­pa­py­ti­ole­naivnes of Phormium ht­en­reax Pur­pureum Group

Gly­cyrrhiza yun­na­nen­sis seed­heads against a back­drop of de­schamp­sia ‘Gold­tau’

Artemisia lu­dovi­ciana ‘Va­lerie Fin­nis’

Rosa ru­gosa

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