This section is from the book "What England Can Teach Us About Gardening", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: What England Can Teach Us About Gardening.
I believe the English know better than we how to use plants with gray or silvery leaves, such as pinks, the rock-cress, gold-dust, the woolly chickweed, and lavender cotton. So great a variety is there that you may have gray-leaved plants with flowers of almost any colour or season of bloom you desire. I would not use many tall plants with gray leaves, because they are very conspicuous, like the high lights of a picture. Fortunately most of the gray-leaved perennials are dwarf and spreading so that they can be used rather freely for carpeting the ground between taller plants. We all know that white flowers are peace-makers in a border, but only the elect seem to understand that gray foliage has the same function. Our summers are so much hotter than those of England that we ought to use an abundance of white flowers and gray foliage. However, it is easy to overdo silvery masses, especially if you put them next to dark patches, where the contrast may be too strong. But gray is a softer colour and gray leaves often have a woolly texture.. Moreover, gray is a notable harmonizer of purple, magenta, and crimson-pink flowers, which cause perhaps nine tenths of the colour discords in ordinary gardens. Again, gray foliage has a remarkable effect upon blue flowers, enhancing their purity and lustre. For these reasons I environment of a house are broad-leaved evergreens, especially mountain laurel, rhododendrons, and English ivy. As this picture of Rodgersia will doubtless start many inquiries, I must say that the plant does well on the north side of a house, if protected from heavy winds, as it is a shade-lover. In England gardeners are careful to give it a peaty soil.
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