Going Gray is a Good Thing – in the Garden!
By Thom Morgan, Springmoor landscape manager
As we get older, some of us consider the color gray a bad thing, but in the landscape, Gray is Great!
Gray goes well with any color, so you can’t go wrong using it in any color scheme. If used with the warm colored plants, gray plants seem to make the red, orange, and yellow plants really pop. If used with cool colors such as green, blue, and purple gray adds to the softer, more relaxing color scheme.
Trees with Gray Foliage
Silver dollar tree (Eucalyptus cinera), Can get fifty feet tall, but in the Piedmont does not get much higher than twenty feet during mild Winters, and can die back to the ground during harsh Winters. If you’re willing to take a chance with it Eucalyptus will really stand out.
Deodor cedar (Cedrus Deodora), Grows to sixty feet tall, this is a needle leaf evergreen with loosely hanging branches, can be planted in a row for privacy screen, or by itself as a specimen.
Blue atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica), Another needle leaf evergreen with more bluish-gray foliage, can be used in the same situations as the Deodor cedar.
Blue Spruce (Picea pungens glauca) Anytime you see the term glauca on a plant name that means gray. The blue spruce grows fifty to seventy feet tall, here in the Piedmont maybe twenty. It is marginally hardy here, it does not like our hot Summers. The blue spruce is worth a try if you have a spot that gets shade during the hottest part of the day.
Shrubs with Gray Foliage
Agave (Agave Americana), Not really a shrub, but grows three feet tall, has blue-gray spiky leaves good for hot dry areas in the landscape. Needs to be planted high, and with rocks mixed into soil for good drainage.
Russian Olive DO NOT plant this shrub it has gray foliage, but it is on the invasive plant species list.
Blue Star Juniper, Blue rug juniper, Bar Harbor juniper (Juniperus squamata, Junperus horizontalis blue rug, and Juniperus horizontalis Bar Harbor) All have gray foliage, grow twelve inches tall, but spread to about six feet. All three like it dry, and sunny, great for rock gardens.
Perennials with Gray Foliage
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Grow three feet tall, has blue flowers, and should be trimmed back in the Fall for best results.
Lavender (Lavanula) This is the fragrant herb so popular today, like full sun, dry conditions.
Silvermound (Artemisia schmidtiana), The name is bigger than this little ground hugger. It’s a very interesting little tuft of silver growing only six inches tall.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), This is the herb we cook with, but also makes a great landscape plant. Needs full sun, well drained soil.
Lambs Ears (Stachys), This ground cover, loves full sun, and spreads fairly easy, but it’s not invasive. Great for rock gardens.
Yarrow (Achilla millefolium), With it’s yellow flowers, Yarrow is a must have in any landscape. Used for dried flower arrangements.
October Focal Points
Sasanqua Camellia (Camellia sasanqua), Blooms from October to December, but due to the cooler Summer, I saw an early bloom the third week of September.
Kaleidescope Abelia (Abelia grandiflora kaleidoscope), Great foliage color and will continue to bloom until first frost.
October Things to Do
- It’s still not too late to aerate, and re-seed fescue lawns but the window is closing as the air temps get lower.
- Apply 10 10 10, or 8 8 8 fertilizer to Fall vegetables
- Install Winter annuals such as pansies, snap dragon, Kale, and ornamental cabbage.
- Now is the time to plant Fall bulbs such as daffodil, crocus, and tulips.