June 13, 2010

Silver Foliage—A Perfect Foil for Purple


The silver leaves of lamb's ear provide a shining background for the blue-purple buddleia blooms. This contrast is why I love to use silver foliage to enhance the color purple.

The soft and gentle lamb's ear is a perennial that keeps on giving. Starting with only one plant five years ago, I have divided and transplanted stachys byzantina 'Helen Von Stein' more times than I can count.

Given the number of stachys available in my garden, I use it in combination with the purple blooms of buddleia 'Adonis Blue, lavender (multiple varieties), larkspur 'Gailee Blue' and verbena 'Homestead Purple'.

While the silver stachys looks perfect with purple, the coolness works well with lilac, blue or pink—from light pink of dianthus to the magenta blooms of salvia greggii.

Not only stachys, but silver-blue sedum 'Blue Spruce' or white-silver dusty miller combine well with purple foliage plants—sedum 'Purple Emperor' and tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart'—as well as purple blooms of flowering annuals or perennials.

On the shady side, I use the silver-frosted pulmonaria and Japanese Painted Fern. Persian Shield, an annual, is a perfect punch of purple against these lighter background perennials. The pulmonaria is an early spring bloomer, but the foliage continues to add impact in the shade garden in summer. The pulmonaria is my deer resistant alternative to growing hosta. A nest of lacy Japanese Painted Fern provides texture.

All of these plants work well in containers, too. In fact, two of my pulmonaria were transplanted from the garden to my front porch urns; while all of the Japanese Painted Ferns lived in a planter for three years until I transplanted those into the garden this spring.

I love the versatility of silver foliage and it is especially lovely in evenings or by moonlight. While my favorite combination is silver with purple—what creative combinations do you grow in your garden?

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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