Silver plants gathered in the Zona Gardens studio awaiting planting.

Silver plants gathered in the Zona Gardens studio awaiting planting.

My Own Fifty Shades

I know almost nothing about the”50 shades of…” erotic novel, except that lots of women seem to be covertly reading it. I was in Trader Joe’s picking up some “lunch” of Thai lemon grass cashews when my cashier said that she wished she was home reading. When I asked what she was reading, she said, “I’m too embarrassed to admit it, but it has the word ‘fifty’ in the title.” If only I could write something with that much appeal. I know that succulents can be sexy, but I don’t think they can be that sexy.

Betting on Silver

My own fifty shades are all silver and they are all plants. I’ve spent way too much time and had too much fun designing the little 15′ x 20′ Growdown! plot that we’ll be installing at Tucson Botanical Gardens beginning March 21st. My garden features a strong teal and orange color theme complete with nine Sonora Mexico license plates. When it came to the plants, I have sought out silver plants like a dog. Silvers, grays and powder blues are by far my favorite foliage colors and that have the added benifit of being nuetral.  You can plant them against any backdrop and they will almost always look great. I started with one of the most silver shrubs you’ve ever seen, wooly butterfly bush, and added bright silver mescal ceniza century plants (Agave colorata) that I got from Starr Nursery. I threw in some little agaves with straw-shaped silver-blue leaves–also from Mr. Starr–named after an asbestos mine  (Agave striata ‘Minas Asbestos’). Also in the mix are Albutilon palmeri, as well as a fantastic silver-leafed gazania with huge orange flowers that plantsman David Salman introduced me to a few years back. I’ve also included native globe mallow.

Silver_Plants3I also have some secret weapon plants that I’ll reveal in in later posts as to not to tip off the competition. One of these is small, silver, rare, and I’ve seen it in habitat deep in Mexico.