Which Artemisia would you recommend for my situation?

Ashlie NeevelOctober 8, 2013

Hey Everyone,

Just looking to get some opinions. My garden is a formal type garden with 1ft high by 1ft thick boxwoods neatly trimmed in a symmetrical octagonal pattern (see illustration). It is my intention to plant red and yellow tuberous begonias within the borders of the boxwoods but I would like the silvery look of dusty miller as a buffer between the boxwoods and begonias. Since dusty miller is not hardy here and must be cultivated by seed (something I am not willing to do) I am considering artemisia as a alternative since its offers the same color I am looking for and its perennial to boot!

The artemisia I have found available to me here is Silver Brocade and Valerie Finnis. Either of these meet the criteria for color and both have foliage i find attractive, but I am unsure as to which would be best suited for this situation.

I am very concerned about these plants choking out my boxwoods and my begonias and running rampant. It is my understanding that the silver brocade ( my preferred foliage) is really quite low to the ground and might be kind of a misfire for the look I am trying to create. The Valerie Finnis is agreeable with me but I am also concerned about height issues. I would ideally like to keep everything around 1 ft high or slight under as the begonias grow 1ft high with equal spread.

My soil is sandy loam and I am in EU Hardiness Zone 8. I get full morning sun and filtered/shady afternoon light. I imagine from the picture I provided you can get the general idea of what it is I am trying to accomplish. I have considered using Lamb's Ear but I really dont find it attractive at all. I am unaware of any other possible alternatives that could be out there.

Do you feel that either of these would be a good fit for what I am trying to accomplish or am I out of my mind LOL.

Thanks for your imput. I am a novice gardener and need all the help I can get.

Ashlie :)

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An alternative to artemesia might be Stachys 'Helen Von Stein' which is a less annoying cultivar of lambs' ear. I have a number of plants in my part sun garden which are thriving and which require zero maintenance year-round. They set no flowers and thus don't send up the annoying flower stalks of species lambs' ear.

In my Z6 garden, Stachys 'Helen Von Stein' retains its form nearly 12 months of the year and requires zero maintenance. It does tend to enlarge in size/area but not aggressively and not, from what I've experienced, via runners. It's been a welcome addition to my Z6 garden.

Hardiness zone is Z8 so it should do well in your garden beds altho' I can't vouch for how it will perform in a much warmer climate than mine. I too have sandy loam soil but cannot comment how it compares to your own.

Do you feel that either of these would be a good fit for what I am trying to accomplish or am I out of my mind LOL.

One thing to remember when planning a garden is that chances are good it will not look exactly the way you see it in your head even after a few years. Don't lose sight of the fact that you're trying to control natural events--trust me, they won't always work out the way you expect.

Best of luck to you!

Here is a link that might be useful: Helen Von Stein Lambs' Ear

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Ashlie Neevel

Thank you so much for your response. I have looked at the Helen Von Stein and the Silver Carpet and as much as I have always enjoyed the velvety feel of the plant I find its foliage to be a bit on the dull side, no real WOW factor.

Dusty Miller is really the look i'd like but I live in Amsterdam Netherlands and our houses are very small here and are gardens even smaller which prohibits me from being able to grow it from seed every year. The Silver Brocade definitely has the look I like as far as foliage is concerned, but information about this specific variety of artemisia seems to be quite limited in my google searches.
I am not sure if it has deep traveling roots that are going to send up plants on the other side of the garden bed or what.

I had read on one website that said certain creeping artemisia needs a 24 inch deep root barrier put in place to keep it in check and I don't know who in their right mind would go through that kind of trouble just to have a plant, especially when space is at a premium as it is.

The other form of artemisia I had mentioned is nice but from what I have read it grows up to 3ft tall which is way too tall for what I would need it for. The Silver Brocade is quite low to the ground and at maturity (5 years evidentally) can be 12 inches. To me, if that is the case, it would be almost low to the ground like grass for a very long time which isnt what I am looking for either. I am very confused with all of it lol.

As far as temperatures here it never gets hot. If we reach 80 degrees for more than a week here its a miracle. Average temperatures are in the 60's Id wager. Our climate here is probably the most comparable to Seattle Washington.

Anyways thanks again for your help, and am still open to information and other ideas from other people :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 3:28AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Silver Brocade was a very slow mover in my garden and eventually died out one winter.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 6:29AM
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A little diffident about this but I've always had good luck with Silver Mound until late fall. Most of the time it looks sculptured. Also it lends itself to the formal look.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 5:22PM
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Ashlie Neevel

thanks for the warning laceyvail


what do you mean "until late fall"?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 6:34PM
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My Artemisia 'Silver Mound' thrived the first 5 years I lived here but it eventually grew smaller and smaller and eventually died. My soil is sandy loam with lots of healthy earthworms so I normally don't expect to lose many cold-hardy perennials in my temperate climate where we enjoy significant rainfall in many years. It did tend to splay open late in the season but in early season it formed a compact mound.

If you find something that works for you, it would be excellent if you'd post it here for the rest of us. Not being particular as to foliage form in my more casual garden beds, I'm quite pleased with my Helen Von Stein lambs' ear.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 8:17PM
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what do you mean "until late fall"?
What I was speaking about was my location as in zone 4. We have definite four seasons.

If it was getting stringy post blooming I would shave it a bit as in about one third and it would come back quickly.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 2:37AM
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Campanula UK Z8

I must chime in here with a brief mention of that scourge of box growers - Box blight - currently swooping across the UK so I cannot imagine you will be immune to that, Ashlie. Given the fact that there is no cure (and box takes a long time to grow), unless you already have this garden (your link being a computer representation) I would be looking at alternatives to box wood such as grisellina, osmanthus, ilex crenata or even completely different, santolina.
Just a thought since a number of National Trust properties (who tend to maintain a lot of these grand style knot gardens and parterres) have been having terrible issues with boxblight, in some cases having to remove the entire box hedges.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:11AM
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Ashlie Neevel


Thanks for explaining. Here in the Netherlands we definitely have 4 seasons though I am sure no where near as severe as your zone 4. On our record coldest winter we were still within the Zone 7a range but generally we are Zone 8.


I am very familiar with buxus blight. It is quite the scourge! Many people on my block have buxus and I have been inspecting them all for blight. It is something that worries me too!!. I know box takes a long time to grow. 15cm a year under ideal conditions. Since my box will be purchased at 30cm height and maintained at that height I am not too concerned about waiting a few years for it to really fill in. I would consider something different if I wanted a taller hedge. I will look into your suggestions right after I finish writing this. I do love an English Garden and I'd be a fool to not at least entertain the advice of an English gardener!

Also here is what the garden looks like to date. Sorry it is such a dark picture. It is all still a work in progress. This was taken just yesterday. The gravel just went in the day before.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:37AM
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Ashlie Neevel

Just looked at the Santolina and I love it. I think its really pretty. The other ones were nice too but way to expensive for me when I factor in the amount of plants I'd need to buy. I'm goign to research the Santolina more. Thanks Camapnula

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:47AM
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Silver Brocade goes all over the place; you would have to prune it quite often if you are interested in a more sculptured look. I think the Silver Mound is a bit tidier but as some else mentioned, when it gets older, it tends to splay out and look messy. There are some really nice annual Dusty Millers that would look good in your design. I wonder if starting from seed would make it affordable to get so many plants?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 2:02AM
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Ashlie Neevel

hi donna

thanks for your reply. Dusty Miller is really what i wanted to begin with. unfortunately Dusty Miller seems to not be a very common plant here in the Netherlands and the only thing I can find is seeds which so happen to be sold out. I have not place to start so many plants to grow them. I already considered that. As of recently we have decided against the artemisia at this time and are considering heuchera instead. It seems like every day I learn something new about the plants I am considering that causes me to change my mind and consider something else and then the following day it happens all over again. This gaden planning stuff is hard!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 9:36AM
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