Going for silver in the garden

Who thinks about leaf colour in relation to how a plant handles weather conditions?

Brunnera macrophylia

Brunnera macrophylia

Going for gold is certainly the aim of athletes competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics but in the garden silver is what wins big. Especially during periods when the weather is dry.

Truthfully, who thinks about leaf colour in relation to how a plant handles weather conditions? Most of us usually focus on flower colour, leaf structure, height, and spread. Those who have metered water may be more concerned whether the plant likes frequent watering, or if it will survive on a weekly ration of a mere cup or two.

So, when the weather is dry for weeks on end, performance really does come through with silver-coloured leaves. The metallic tone is excellent for reflecting the sun’s rays which helps the plant retain moisture. And the more silver a plant has in its leaves, the better it can withstand the heat.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ is a good example of pure silver leaves. Dusty miller is another fine one. And both are at the top of the podium for their performances on the merest amount of moisture.

But there are other plants with added features which can come from behind and overtake those top performers. Plants such as lamb’s ears, Stachys byzantina, with their furry texture on silvery leaves. The soft fur is a magnet for collecting dew and rain, hanging onto it, allowing the plant an extended spurt of moisture.

The biennial, Salvia argentea, is another good podium candidate with its furry, silvery leaves. But watch this one – it may lose marks to slug predation.

Bottom line, the more silver the leaves, the more reflection. However, too much of one colour can be a little overpowering. Enter the underdogs. Plants with grey-green leaves, another good colour for reflecting the sun’s rays. The almighty artichoke is a good example in this category.

Other candidates are purple-leaved heucheras with silver overtones, like ‘Silver Scrolls’ and ‘Pewter Veil.’

These would add a delightful presence in the garden line-up, mixed in with the pure silver species. And do not discount green leaves with silver, such as some of the brunneras.

It does take all manner of special characteristics to make the podium. But remember, silver can still be a top performer over gold in the garden.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Proceeds from the sale of this 36x18” image of a grizzly bear in the water, by local photographer Viktor Davare, will go to the Salvation Army. Photo supplied.
Comox Valley Photographic Society showcased at next Pearl Ellis exhibit

Exhibit to double as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army

Shelter Point Distillery won several Canadian Whisky Awards this year, including a gold for best single malt. Facebook photo
Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery wins gold for single malt

Business won nine medals at recent Canadian Whisky Awards virtual ceremony

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Most Read