Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Hi Ho Silver

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Hi Ho Silver

Article excerpt

SILVER plants used to make me think of the brash, velvety off-white bedding which was stuffed into hanging baskets to create blunt contrasts with darker leaves or brighter flowers.

When I worked in a plant shop decades ago, we used to sell plastic trays of Senecio cineraria by the dozen. But silvery plants have always been more interesting and, dare I say it, more sophisticated than that.

Just think of Sissinghurst, where a section of the garden was planted only in whites and silvers, its beauty best appreciated when viewed by moonlight.

Reaching its peak in July, white roses, lilies, delphiniums, peonies and eremurus mingle with mounds of silvery artemisia, santolina, stachys and the silver-leaved pear Pyrus salicifolia.

I'm not asking you to be midnight gardeners, but I'd be delighted if you'd join me to explore what these light reflective beauties can do. Silver or grey hues work seamlessly with pastels to create a subtle planting scheme. So instead of - or in addition to - white flowers, you could add pale pink peonies, apricot roses, dusty pink foxgloves, soft yellow verbascums and gentle blue lavenders.

Or how about some really dramatic silver specimens? There's a new senecio which you may have already spotted in bedding schemes. It's called Angel Wings and its large silky leaves are almost white in appearance. Very striking.

In my garden I have the wonderful Cynara cardunculus, or cardoon, which has huge deeply cut silver leaves and a flower stem that can reach 6ft with large buds that look like artichoke flowers.

These open to become a purple thistle-like flower attracting bees in droves - a wonderful perennial specimen for the border. Other shimmery favourites include Astelia. This architectural perennial has long, sword-shaped leaves that are covered with a fine silver film. They set the scene beautifully and stand out strongly among other plants. …

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