Are gray plants the bomb? Yes, they are and here’s why. They impart Visual Cool to our hot landscape and they totally rock the green-blues of agaves, opuntia ellisana, (thornless prickly pear), and yucca. In this picture from left are powis artemisia, Russian sage (with purple blooms), culinary sage, and bottom left, salvia apiana or white sage, and almost hidden, a santolina, which really needs to be moved since the other guys are taking over. Other grays in this bed are silver leaf germander, cenizo (purple sage), lavender, and Elijah’s blue fescue. Salvia apiana is new to my garden and it has really found a place for its striking rosettes of celadon leaves, robust mounding growth habit, and bulletproof heat shield. Plus it has a great backstory. It grows wild in California but has been ruinously preyed upon by commercial herbalists and other immoral entrepreneurs who yank the whole plant out of the ground, tie it in bundles, and sell it as smudge sticks to hippies and crystal-gazers for use in their sweat lodges and home meditation shrines. Oddly, the scrunched up leaves smell like really bad B.O. Maybe the plant smells better when burned? Probably not. The path to enlightenment was not meant to be easy.
After 10 years gardening on solid rock in Rollingwood, I moved into a 40's cottage in the North Loop area spring 2007. The little postage stamp yard is black clay and no one had ever dug a single flower bed. After visiting Key West a few years ago, I came back inspired by the little frame cottages, white painted railings, and rustling palm leaves. So the plan is: desert tropical cottage garden.