A few years ago I wrote a post on 16 Silver Foliage Plants To Experiment With. It was an attempt to identify many of the great plants with silver foliage characteristics that lend themselves beautifully to landscape gardening.
However, when I wrote that post I hadn’t become acquainted with Eremophila nivea (Silky Eremophila) – an endangered variety of eremophila that resided in my own backyard (colloquial “backyard” – that is).
I’m a real fan of silver foliage plants because they contrast with deep colours beautifully. So, when I recently upgraded a garden bed in my literal backyard I set about finding a suitable hardy, dry-zone native that could complement my other choices. In the end it seemed that the Cushion Bush, Leucophyta brownii, was going to remain a stalwart in my garden. My hesitation: Leucophyta brownii stays a crisp silver on top but dry and brown underneath.
Fortunately, as I was days away from making a decision, I stumbled across our local Bunnings. Eremophila nivea was being sold off in reduced quantities.
Apart from it’s already mentioned silver foliage I really loved the proportions of this plant. It will grow to about 1.5-2m (5-6.5ft) high with a similar diameter and retain its density without become leggy. The whole plant will remain silver. This makes it ideal in the landscape as a filler perennial and allows the gardener to use it as a backdrop for other plants they want to display.
While it flowers in spring, Eremophila nivea’s blooms are quite subtle and actually add to the colour of the shrub without taking over. Drooping, mauve bells reward the observer up close but from a distance the flowers will shrink into the background and towards the end of the season will dry to a papery brown and drop.
How to Care for Eremophila Nivea
Being a resident of Australia’s harsh outback – flooding rains and endless drought conditions – Eremophila nivea has learnt to survive. It doesn’t require a great amount of TLC and will reward you the more you neglect it. So hold back on the regular fertiliser and weekly dowsing. This plant will look after itself and should only require a light prune, for shape, at the end of winter.
Having said this, Silky Eremophila is an endangered species and its local habitat is declining. With threats from almost every angle; land-clearing, invasive weeds, overspray and use of herbicides ya-da, ya-da… planting one (or five) in your garden will help to keep the species in existence. It’s a win-win. You get an amazing landscape plant – and they get to remain in existence.
So, there you have it. My newfound favourite backdrop plant – Eremophila nivea.