Saturday, 11 June 2016

Silver-Foliage Wormwood

There's more silver in the garden, and less.

Well, I've pruned back the tree wormwood (Artemisia) and other wormwood, hard. And moved them. And, joy!, given myself lots more room in the raspberry-and-silver bed.

I dislike the term `cottage garden' but I do acquire plants like a bower bird, sometimes (and with a similar single-minded colour sensibility, I might add). Perennial beds (and mixed beds), mostly, is closer to the mark.

As any long-term reader of this blog will know, my raspberry (colour)-and-silver bed has tones of strawberry, plum and cherry, too. (A `summer pudding' bed.) But getting oh so crowded, now, and with some Artemisia sadly grey, rather than the desired silver. I am not a fan of dull grey leaves. Recently I found at the nurseries, in small pots, Artemisia arborescens, with its silver filigree leaves, making a burgeoning idea suddenly very easy: move the positive space of silver - 2 groups of 3 plants - back (a lot).

So I've pulled out the grey wormwood (so less silver); but these are such hardy plants, and there's blank `holes' in other spots in the they go more silver (or grey). But carefully; I really don't want the whole garden to be full of silver or grey, however hardy or drought-proof (with the exception of my lovely row of globe artichoke by the veg garden (left). The huge leaves are sensational).
I love green!

Adding the pink hues has been fun, and continues, with various masterworts (Astrantia, ruby, pink ones) going in recently.

In a corner of my study I've just found a few Lilium bulbs (some `Asiatic' for late spring, some `oriental' (top) for mid-summer), magically still alive, cherry-coloured, and a few black tulips (`Hero') (close to blood plum skin - yes, it still fits) and in they go in the new space. Yes, it's early winter, but they'll live.

(Scabiosa  atropurpurea  `Midnight' (left) adds more of this wonderful plum-black in later spring, too.)

What I'd forgotten was that absinthe is made from Artemisia absinthium and vermouth might contain this ingredient too. (I designed a Mediterranean edible garden a while ago and it was fun exploring the extent of the brief. We did find a source of Artemisia absinthium to plant for one of the borders.)

Do I call this garden my absinthe and raspberry bed (confusing people enormously)?

Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, writer, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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