Winter, generally speaking, is not a gardener’s friend. However, I must admit, when the first frosts hit—or even a dusting of snow—the effect on my garden is magical. It’s something that here in New England I look forward to each year. The way the plants seem like they’ve been sprinkled with the finest iridescent glitter is a sight that sustains me throughout the coming months of dark dreariness.
Perhaps that’s why I love silver variegated plants so much. Their ability to replicate that early winter magic—year round—is so alluring. And when you put that trait into a plant that thrives in the dark and sometimes dreary shade, it’s even better. Regrettably, I only have a scant few silver variegated shade plants. But after reading Frank Fitzgerald’s article Silver in the Shade in our most recent issue, my spring shopping list grew exponentially. Among his suggestions is ‘Sea Heart’ brunnera, a newer cultivar known for being a more vigorous plant than the better known ‘Jack Frost’ brunnera. And while that alone would warrant its place on my shopping list, ‘Sea Heart’ also tolerates heat and humidity quite well, meaning its sparkling silver-green leaves won’t crisp up like my other brunneras in summer.
As I type this letter, I’m staring out the window at a light snow falling on my garden, and it’s lending the evergreens a silver sparkle. Watching this happen is giving me even more justification for adding many more silver variegated plants to my landscape in spring—and if my husband questions the massive charge at the nursery, I’ll simply tell him you can’t put a price on magic.
—Danielle Sherry, executive editor
More articles on great plants for shade: