By Karen Chapman of Le jardinet

Is your shade garden a predictable muddle of green? Does your plant palette lack inspiration? Dare to be different and add some sparkle to the shadows with Silver Shadow’ Astelia (Astelia chathamica x nervosa 'Silver Shadow' PP22195). Whether you enjoy this as an evergreen perennial or look forward to it as a summer annual, this metallic silver foliage will transform your shade designs.

Where hardy, this beauty can grow to a loose fountain of 2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide, its broad blades creating a stunning architectural focal point in the landscape. Try ‘Silver Shadow’ Astelia where dry shade is a challenge, or incorporate it into a waterwise design with other drought-tolerant plants.

Smaller specimens are ideal container candidates, suitable for transplanting to the garden when mature, or treated as summer annuals and removed at the end of the season. Rather than add it to the compost pile, try bringing astelia indoors and enjoying it as a houseplant during cooler months where it will thrive in bright indirect light.

Experimenting with containers is a fun way to explore fresh color and plant combinations. Here are two completely different looks to try featuring ‘Silver Shadow’ Astelia:

Contemporary Chic

Think of a sleek, glossy black container as the classic ‘little black dress.’ Add ‘Silver Shadow’ Astelia for sparkle and you have a winning combination.

Repeat the color of the pot with the glossy black rosette-like foliage of Black Rose (Aeonium arboreum var. atropurpureum  ‘Zwartkop’). This dramatic succulent adds contrast in leaf shape to make a bold statement.

To complete the look, introduce the shade loving perennial Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’). Each large heart-shaped leaf is overlaid with an intricate network of silver veins that catches the light and echoes the metallic sheen of the astelia. In spring, this herbaceous perennial blooms with azure blue forget-me-not type flowers, creating additional interest.

With just three steps and three drought-tolerant plants, you will have an eye-catching, but easy care display of crisp silver and black.

Romantic Interlude
Prefer a softer look? Combine ‘Silver Shadow’ Astelia with the richly-hued leaves of Purple Pixie® Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense ‘Peack’ PP18441) in a weathered stone urn. This delightful low maintenance, evergreen shrub will cascade over the container and add pink thread-like flowers to the mix in spring.

Next, include shade-loving annuals such as white or soft pink tuberous begonias or trailing fuchsias, and finish the scene with a ruffle of lavender or white Bacopa.

To achieve a professional-looking container design, limit the color palette to varying hues of pink, purple and silver. The result will be a subtle, yet lovely, profusion of flowers.

Whatever your design preference, ‘Silver Shadow’ Astelia is a versatile tool for adding style and sparkle to the shade garden.