Silvery grey tree
By Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
I love grey foliage. My Dusty Millers are already getting gangly. In winter I'll take cuttings and make silver fountains again, instead of the elbows and shoulders. This smaller garden needs the paths kept open. Lamb’s ears are so much happier in misty moisty air and a little afternoon shade. Santolina was tiny cuttings, now overflowing the path and ready to roam. All three are commonorgarden foreigners.
Grey foliage has more impact when it is a treeful. We planted Brachylaena in our Camps Bay garden about 40 years ago when we were finding our garden way. The underneath of the leaves is silver, and they flash when the Southeaster catches them. Ours was planted in the far bottom corner. Where, as the years passed, we saw - a gnarled grey trunk, and our neighbours saw - the dancing silver leaves. In our Porterville garden we planted a few between us and the wall towards the mountain view. For Pam @ Digging's Foliage Followup
False Bay is our third garden and here I have the tree planted in the courtyard at our livingroom window - where I can enjoy the sparkle as the polished dark green side flips to silver velvet. Garden Lesson Learned! In neighbouring False Bay gardens I can see Brachylaena allowed to soar and spread as a tree (4-10 metres in a garden), or neatly confined as a topiary. Both ways display the two-tone leaves.
Brachylaena discolor, coast silver oak, Asteraceae/daisy family. Found in forest, and down to sand dunes. From the Eastern Cape to Mozambique, so not in our mediterranean climate. Discolor for the leaves which are green above and silver below. 'Oak' thanks to early settlers from Europe. The wood is used for boatbuilding, fence posts and carving. Nectar for bees and birds. Makes good honey. Shade, full sun, or containers. Excellent hedge. Stabilises dunes. Male and female trees (which do we have now?) It is both drought and frost resistant. From PlantZAfrica.
In Life is what happens (when the axis of our world shifted from Porterville) I wrote - We will plant trees to shield us from the neighbours, but still catch a glimpse of the hills. Choosing the smaller indigenous trees or Brachylaena, whose leaves flash the silver below when whipped by the southeaster.
My tree comes with a bonus of weird little thistle flowers (August 2011 in Porterville). This link of the daisy chain, is a true daisy tree.
Ours was planted in December 2014. Just over a year old and it is taller than us despite the Pruning battle in January this year between Ungardener GRRRumbling Gartenzwerg and Pissed Off Gardener. Resolved in February. POG won. The tree was pruned, a little.
Dozen for Diana 5
Silver and green Brachylaena discolor joins the four plants I have chosen to add to our new old garden. Melianthus with its dramatic leaves, white Pelargonium for 'colour', Dusty Miller in grey fountains and Hypoxis with yellow star flowers and arching leaves.
I was hoping to choose March lilies this month ... but mine are delayed. Perhaps in April? As the seasons turn, we from summer heat to autumn fresh, you from winter chill to spring flowers - what plant says March in your garden?
Pam in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania welcomes spring with snowdrops and Tahiti daffodils
Donna in upstate New York reminds me to add bark that charms with colour and shine on her red twig dogwood
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Those are my links.
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