In preschool, children learn that plants have green leaves unless local weather causes foliage to change color in autumn. Yet foliage comes in many colors, including a variety of cool grays, shimmering silvers and greens so pale that they almost look white. This is true for many drought-resistant Salvias (true sages) and companion plants covered with fine white hairs that help them to conserve moisture. Some are so dense with hairs that they feel velvety.
Foliage shapes and sizes of these waterwise plants vary from inch-long ellipses to 4-foot-long, saber-like blades. Geographical diversity is characteristic of both the Salvias and their companion plants. They come from islands and inland deserts, from lowlands and high mountains, and from many regions around the world, such as:
Gray and silver foliage -- in all its many varieties -- brighten shady gardens, cool down hot reds and oranges, harmonize with pastels, add shimmer to darker green foliage and reflect moonlight beautifully. At Flowers by the Sea, we offer many choices to shine in your garden.
(Uruguayan Firecracker Plant) Mint-green foliage felted with a covering of fine hairs provides a cooling backdrop to the hot orange tubular flowers of this long-blooming member of the acanthus family (Acanthaceae).
(Tower of Jewels) Houston, we are ready for blastoff! Excuse us, but the floriferous Tower of Jewels is so huge that it looks like a model rocket rising up from a columnar launch pad of narrow-leafed, silvery foliage.
(Island Pitcher Sage) Native to shady canyons on the coast of Southern California's Channel Islands, this threatened species is highly desirable for its ruggedness, its aromatic furry leaves and its spectacular pink flowers.
(Blue Chiquita Sage) This unusual and now rare variety was first discovered by the Yucca Do Nursery during their 1997 expedition in Mexico. Growing into a small, tight mound with silvery-blue leaves, it explodes in the fall with pale blue flowers on tall spikes.
(Blue African Sage or Blousalie) A handsome, densely branched shrub with small, gray leaves, this Salvia puts on a show when in full bloom. The pale blue flowers bloom on foot-long spikes that cover the plant. Each flower has a large, trumpet-shaped, green-and-red bract at its base.
(Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to this elegant shrubby sage, which is an important herb to indigenous Californians and deserves a place in every salvia garden. Stiff and almost fleshy, its leaves are tight rosettes of brilliant, silvery white.
(Vicki Romo White Sage) A hybrid two top Californian natives, Vicki Romo has foliage very much like that of White Sage (Salvia apiana) and darker lavender flowers than those of Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).
(Wooly Canary Island Sage) The pale magenta, parrot-beak flowers of this sage, supported by deeper magenta bracts, heat up the landscape. But when you get close, it may be the velvety texture of the foliage that makes you sigh.
(Candelabra Spanish Sage) Tall, well-branched spikes display large two-tone blue flowers above a compact shrubby mass of attractive, furry white leaves. When in bloom, this drought-resistant native of Spain will awe every visitor to your garden.
(Caucasus Sage) This hardy ground cover sage grows 4 to 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The velvety white fur of its foliage aids moisture retention. Its soft, royal purple flowers make it stand out. We think this Salvia deserves to spread far and wide.
(Cedros Island Sage) From the Island of Cedars off the coast of Baja California Sur comes this delightful xeric sage with deep violet-blue flowers and silvery foliage. The square-shaped, 1-inch-long leaves are densely covered with downy, short, white hairs providing moisture retention.
(Silver Germander Sage) With its compact habit, brilliant silver-white leaves and large, sky blue flowers, this is an outstanding heat-tolerant choice for dry, sunny gardens. We consider this to be one of the finest short ground covers for these conditions.
(Marine Blue Sage) The name and origin of this fine cultivar has long been in dispute. It may be a clone or hybrid of the Mexican plant Salvia chamaedryoides var.isochroma. It is one of the prettiest, strongest sages we grow.
(Snowflake Sage) Wiry, trailing stems of small white leaves make this plant look like fresh snowfall. Numerous, small, sky blue flowers with prominent bee lines further add to the cooling look. This dry-garden plant is native to the mountains of the Chihuahuan desert of North Central Mexico.
(Golden Leaf Sage) A tinge of gold in its fuzzy, pebbled foliage gives Salvia chrysophylla its common name. Abundant lavender flowers with pale cream lower lips make it stand out in the landscape.
(Cleveland Sage or California Blue Sage) A California native plant garden is not complete without a Cleveland Sage. This particular cultivar has deeper blue flowers with a purple overlay as well as deep purple calyxes. Due to its height and drought resistance, it is ideal for back of border in a dry garden or for use as a screen.
(Blue Turkish Sage) Large velvety gray-green to white leaves in loose rosettes give this sage a distinctive look as does the celestial violet-blue of its flowers. The blossoms seem much too large for this short sage and its thin, candelabra-branched flower spikes.
(Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Native to the high Andes of Peru, this is a distinctive Salvia with apple-green leaves that are smooth on top and silver-haired fuzzy on the bottom. The flowers are such a dark purple that they almost look black.
(Purple Bract Peruvian Sage or Concolor Sage) Similar to its wild relative, Peruvian Sage, which is also known as Concolor Sage, this cultivar has foliage that is smooth, apple green on top and fuzzy with silver hairs on the bottom. Major differences appear in the dramatic bracts.
(Pilgram's Rest Pink Sage) Spring into summer, this heat-tolerant sage from South Africa produces lilac and white blossoms with profuse, fragrant, gray foliage. It's the burgundy calyxes, which turn a rusty pink after the flowers blossom, that give this sage part of its common name.