Earlier this summer I shared my plans for redesigning the garden between our house and the garage HERE. Originally the bed was planted with hydrangea and feather reed grass, and the hydrangeas were great, but the grade was never fully right from the concrete installation. Overall, it was just OK. From our traveling to Chanticleer and Longwood Gardens last fall, we decided to change the bed to be a seasonal display (Chanticleer) and in all silvers (Longwood). The hydrangea moved to another location next to the kids play set and the grasses were composted.
The garden has been in all summer and WE LOVED IT. I pulled plants we had in the greenhouse and bought some extra flats of dusty miller to fill the empty spaces for early fullness. Comparing the garden from when we planted to where it is today, you see how much the plants thrived over the summer. When I look back at spring photos it looks small, but even then we loved it. (the above image is from late September)
The above two photos are from when we planted the garden. You can see how immature the plants were and you can also see how we segmented the bed into angled shapes and planted each plant in mass within those shapes. I really tried to emulate the textural design of the silver gardens in Longwood. It did not take long for the annuals to start really taking over. The Blue Chalksticks (Senecio serpens) and Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) slowly were covered by the Senecio Angel Wings and Plectranthus argentatus ‘Silver Shield’. The dusty miller was an economical filler that I could cut back and it would flush right back.
I originally thought about placing the Restoration Hardware container with the very large Agave americana but changed to using a vintage Kramer Brothers Athens Junior urn with an agave. Early in the season it was a focal point, but slowly it was engulfed by the surrounding plants.
This summer we had a major drought, but the silver plants all thrived. We don’t have an irrigation system so it was just random watering when we were watering the containers. This was very low maintenance during the summer. The design was laid out in an angular fashion with on species per mass to create an “intersecting pattern’. If we had planted in a more linear design it would not have been as impact-full. This planting technique helped to create an evolving wave of texture as things grew and over took other plants.
The plants were selected for a mix of textures predominately with a stair step heights. Lower / delicate texture in the front and more vigorous growers in the back. It took about a month in the ground before all the mulch was covered.
You can see how striking the silvers looked against the black portion of the house. It was a pure textural tapestry. I lost the strong angular shape of the plantings over time. I could have corrected with cutting back more to keep the shapes. I am on the fence if I will use the Senecio Angel Wings again next year. I love the strong white foliage, but after awhile they got leggy. Looked best in the ground, but the Angel Wings I used in containers got REALLY LEGGY, and I pulled most of those out by August. All the other plants I would most definitely use again. I don’t regret using the Angel Wings, you never know until you try something. And I try both containers and in the ground since there were two different performances.
The faux bois container next to the back door was planted in a similar silver palate, however with the addition of some ferns. This was where the angle wings were just not working. Maybe too little light….? This spot gets morning / first half of the day direct light and shade / in direct light in the afternoon.
When we planted we knew there would be work in removing all the annuals. The chalk sticks, mother-in-law tongue, and a few other plants will all be dug up and wintered over for next year. The others with go into the compost to be soil amendments for next year too. The next problem (or opportunity) for the area will be what we do with the space over the winter. I am excited about having a clean space for a few weeks, but will need to do something eventually for winter interest.
As a reminder here is the silver garden from Longwood Gardens. They had larger sections of plants and had mounding to create some height. I wish I could do as large of a statement of Mother in law’s tongue (Sansevieria zeylanica), maybe next year I will be able to get a few more plants to make a larger swath.
For next year I am thinking of expanding the grey garden to some of the surrounding driveway beds. I already have lambs ear planted, but will need to transplant the grasses currently in the area. I need to make a decision soon so I can get the plants are on the order list.
Here is a breakdown of the plants within the garden. I did not realize we planted this many varieties, you could get away with fewer varieties and larger swaths. The succulents are the more expensive plants, I would start with editing some of those out. But the main goal is to do mass plantings in strong linear shapes.
Here are all the plants listed again that you can copy for making your plant list
- Plectranthus argentatus – silver spurflower
- Senecio cineraria – dusty miller
- Senecio candicans ‘Senaw’ PP #28,830 – Angel Wings® senecio
- Graptopetalum mendozae – leatherpetal
- Senecio serpens – blue chalk sticks
- Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ – silver mound wormwood
- Agave americana – century plant
- Sansevieria zeylanica – mother in law’s tongue
- Helichrysum petiolare ‘Petite Licorice’ – licorice plant
- Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ – topsy turvy echeveria
If you have any questions please let me know. Everything has finally received the killer frost. The agave is still ok, but not really sure how we are going to move it out of there. Moving the cast iron container without the killer agave inside was difficult enough.