July 7, 2015

Silverado Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)

In this season of out of control marauding vines (i.e. the ever-obnoxious, overly aggressive trumpet vine, Virginia creeper, and unruly wisteria)... that steal their way from neighboring landscapes into my garden borders...tunneling their way under, or scaling their way over, the wooden fence surrounding my property, and, in general,

wreaking havoc upon the land and my sanity,

I especially appreciate the tidiness and neat growing habits of Leucophyllum frutescens 'Silverado', a cultivar of Texas sage. This gray-leaved, heat-loving, drought tolerant shrub is just what the doctor (probably a psychiatrist) ordered for gardeners like myself who prefer a less rambunctious summer garden. While it can mature to a height of 6-8 feet, I prefer to keep it clipped and rounded, preferably in topiary standard form, 

though I have also planted it in the border itself, accompanied by the beautiful large-leaved foliage of rudbeckia 'Maxima' and gray-blue needled cedars and junipers...

where it can tolerate less than perfect drainage and moisture levels. But why be mean-spirited? As long as you're making the effort to plant it at all, give it a drainage-inducing shovelful of gravel, loosen the soil in a big planting hole, and   give it a good soaking if the rain gods are not propitious.

It will reward you with dense, pest free foliage and a blush of violet pink flowers that look simply delightful with lilac blush asters and happy spherical balls of similarly hued gomphrena.  A pleasant blend of textures and color echoes that can really take the heat, continuing well into fall. Sadly, it is fickle about being winter hardy...

sometimes reappearing in spring; sometimes not. Another reason I like to grow it in pots....

as I can bring it in and set it back out when spring beckons.

I also find it scratches my itch to grow lavender...

a much coveted plant that simply refuses to live with me.

Silverado's gray/green/blue color and texture gives off the same vibe...at least to me; consequently it visually performs similarly...

though without the distinctive lavender scent of course. It makes up for it, however, by being humidity tolerant in our summer's soupy Southern weather. 

Most importantly, it looks great in the garden when most other perennials look  like _________ (insert expletive here) and is generally easy to find in most garden centers when other gardening enticements are in short supply.  Consider it, if you will,

  as summer gardening Prozac.  

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