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 You are here    Flowers by the Sea / Categories / Salvias by Color / Gray & Silver Leaf
Gray & Silver Leaf
Gray & Silver Leaf

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:

  • Africa's Canary Islands
  • The American Southwest, including parts of Texas
  • California's coastal chaparral
  • The Mediterranean
  • Northern Mexico and
  • The dry steppe and mountain lands of Central Asia.

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.

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(Greek Sage) Most of the dried culinary sage sold in the United States is Greek Sage. Frescoes on the island of Crete dated to 1400 BC depict this plant, which was used by the Phoenicians and Greeks for cooking and medicine. It is an ancient and beloved friend of mankind.

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(Turkish Salt Sage) The common name for this plants comes from the latin halophila - salt loving. It is endemic to the central Anatolian basin in Turkey, a very diverse ecosystem of salt steppe and saline lakes. For the gardener it is a tough, hardy perennial with a most impressive floral display from early summer till fall.
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(Turkish Mountain Sage) Part of the Salvia canescens group of Mediterranean sages, this dwarf species features lavender parrot-type flowers with whitish lower lips (or should we say beaks!).

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(Two-lip Spotted Sage) Shaped like an open parrot's beak, the upper lip of this petite yet dramatic sage is lilac while the lower lip is dark violet and white with spots. The whorled flower spikes rise up from clumps of large, oval, olive green leaves with scalloped edges.
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(Big Grape Sage) This lavender-flowered native of Northern Mexico resembles Salvia melissodora (Grape Scented Sage), but is bigger and also has larger leaves and flowers. It's a great companion plant for its little brother, which shares the same cultural needs and affinity for Zones 8 to 10. Both bloom from summer into fall.

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(Rusty Sage)  Named for its leaves shaped like the tips of lances, this nearly care-free, evergreen sage from South Africa has enchanting rusty rose flowers that bloom from fall (spring in its native land) into winter.
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(Pink Mexican Bush Sage) Although native to Mexico and Central America, this elegant variety of Salvia leucantha was hybridized in South Africa. It is compact, long blooming and profusely covered by soft pink flowers surrounded by velvety white bracts.

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(Mexican Bush Sage or Velvet Sage) This variety of Mexican Bush Sage has purple and white flowers that bloom from summer into fall. Fuzzy leaves, stems and calyxes are characteristic of its species, so this native of Mexico and Central America is also called Velvet Sage.
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(Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.

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(Santa Barbara Mexican Bush Sage) This compact Mexican Bush Sage was found in the Santa Barbara garden of Kathiann Brown. It is, without a doubt, the finest short Mexican Bush Sage -- hardy, tough and long blooming. Add drought tolerance and dark, rich purple flowers to its list of merits.

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(Spreading California Purple Sage or Spreading California Gray Sage) Songbirds love this California native as do honeybees and hummingbirds. This Salvia leucophylla clone was collected in 1982 by Dr. Dale Smith of University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB #82152) at Point Sal near Santa Barbara.

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(Oaxaca Orange Wooly Sage) Tall, eye-catching spikes of dusky red-orange flowers that bloom from summer into fall make this one of our most impressive Salvias. Plus it's cold hardy into Zone 7.

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(Grape Scented Sage) With the grape scent of its pale lavender blossoms and its long history of medicinal use, it is no surprise that this sage is so widely distributed.

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(Mount Hermon Sage) This dry loving perennial features a tight rosette of furry white leaves, and tall branched inflorescence with white flowers and purple spots. It grows in rocky slopes on Mount Hermon in Lebanon.
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(Kashmir Sage) This native to Pakistan and Nepal is common in the wild, but rare in cultivation. The handsome rosette of wooly leaves give way in the late spring to tall flower scapes featuring delicately colored lilac-blue flowers with bright green hairy bracts.
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(Wildesalie) Dominant white beelines mark the violet-blue flowers of this heat- and drought-tolerant sage from South Africa. Dramatic burgundy bracts surround the flowers, which contrast handsomely with dense, fine leaved, olive green foliage of Salvia muirii.
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(Munz's Sage) Densely branched and extremely fragrant, this drought-resistant shrub is named for botanist Philip Munz (1892-1974) of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Pomona College. It is native to northern Baja California and the coastal mountains of San Diego.
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(Giant Purple Desert Sage) It’s best to plant this flamboyant native of the Southwest in spring or summer. However, once established, it tolerates winters from USDA Zones 5 to 9. Purple tubular flowers and burgundy bracts flare up its 10-inch flower spikes like flames on this softly rounded shrub.

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(Tamaulipas Sage) Deep purple flowers, strong stems and attractively textured, gray-green foliage make this sage useful in the drought-resistant Salvia garden. Rising up to 5 feet tall and spreading feet wide, it is a fine backdrop.
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(Fruit Sage) Also known as Apple Sage or Cretean Sage, this is an extremely drought-resistant plant. Its common names come from the small round fruit-like galls that an insect creates on its branches on the island of Crete where it is native to dry slopes.
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(Turkish Cliff Sage) Spring into early summer, Turkish Cliff Sage produces erect, branching flower spikes 24 to 36 inches long that rise from basal foliage. They’re covered with whorls of pale pink blossoms with delicate white markings.

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(The Queen's Sage) Regal spikes of lavender-to-purple flowers give weight to this sage's common name. It provides a stately show of bloom during summer in USDA Zones 6 to 10. Cold hardy and heat tolerant, this impressive perennial comes from the mountains of Turkey.

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(Venezuelan Red Sage) Purple stems and calyxes so dark that they almost look black contrast dramatically with the deep red-orange flowers of this South American beauty. This tall, spectacular sage has been in cultivation for decades but is still rare in gardens. We'd like to see that change.

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(Coastal Blue Sage) Native from the sandy shores to brushy slopes of South Africa's East Cape, this sub-shrub sage is noted for growing easily in gardens elsewhere. Its lovely purplish-pink flowers have a subtle blue sparkle in bright sun and bloom spring to fall.
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