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Reach Out and Touch Plants

Look at the way the colours play off of one another. Listen to the sound of the reeds as they dance in the wind. Let the fragrance embrace you taking you back to your childhood. Savour the taste of the first ripe tomatoe of the season.   

We all do it, that’s part of the joy and calm of gardening. But have you fully experience it?  Have you succumb to your final sense? Touch, and no, I’m not talking about thorns or burs here. I’m taking about fluffy, fuzzy, smooth and silky.  Those are the ones to focus on.  Here are a few touchables to add yet another dimension to your garden.

Lamb's Ears Stachys ByzantinaLamb's ears Stachys byzantina

Yep the hit the nail on the head with this one.  Velvety soft leaves that actually do have a striking resemblance to lamb’s ear (or so I’ve been told...haven’t been to a petting zoo in years!)  This is one tough groundcover that not only can handle heat and sun but also is drought tolerant.  Use in well drained, hard to grow areas and you won’t be let down. 

Plant Personality:

  • zone 4-7

  • grows 12" tall when in bloom

  • performs best in full sun/ part shade

  • a hero for hot spots and clay soil

  • looks great as a border plant or groundcover

  • flowers in late spring into summer, but it’s best to remove flowers to encourage thick lush leaf growth.

Silver Mound Artemisia SchmidtianaSilver Mound Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound'

Unlike other member s of the Wormwood bunch, this one is extremely well behaved as assumed in its name.  This is another gray velvety wonder.  Gently sweep your hand across as you are passing by (you may want to safe this one for your containers...saves on bending and walking at the same time...accident waiting to happen).

Plant Personality:

  • zone 3-8

  • grows 12"

  • performs best in full sun

  • another hot spot hero for dry clay soil

  • looks great as a border plant

  • flowers are insignificant

Pasque Flower - Pulsatilla vulgaris

Truely a diamond in the rough.  This hardy rock garden perennial is as cute and furry as a puppy!  The only part of Pasque flower that aren’t soft and fuzzy are the flowers themselves.  Use in your perennial borders or rock gardens for an earlier burst of colour.

Plant Personality:

  • zone 4-7

  • grows 12"

  • performs best in full sun

  • must have well drained soil

  • looks great as a border plant, be sure to partner with spring bulbs

  • flower colours available in red, pink, white and purple

  • Notice a trend?  Fuzzy gray foliage plants are great for hot, dry locations.  Rock gardens are composed of plants that don’t mind the heat and can handle being dry so be sure to incorporate these fuzzy wuzzies!

Horsetail Equisetum hyemale

This little devil may look familiar.  Horsetail is a native wetland plant that is usually sold as a pond plant.  There are a couple of cool features on the touch end of things with it.  Horsetail has jointed stems that can be taken apart and put back together just like lego!  The stems have fine ridges that feel like sand paper.  Horsetail is also known as Scouring Rush and in Mexico is still harvested for polishing fine furniture.

Plant Personality:

  • zone 3-11

  • grows 18-24"

  • performs best in full and partial sun

  • thrives in moist clay soil and standing water

  • looks great contained in a planter or water garden

  • be careful though, it can be invasive!

Ornamental Grass Plumes

So many of the ornamental grasses have fabulously soft plumes. Here are a few that I can’t keep my hands off of!


Pretty much all of them when they are at their prime in the fall.

Plant Personality:

  • zone 5-9

  • grows 48-84” (huge range of varieties available) 

  • performs best in full

  • thrives well drained soil

  • clump forming grasses (very well behaved!)

  • great for adding texture to your gardens!

Fountain Grass Pennisetum

Plant Personality:

  • most are zone 5-9.Unfortunately the purple-leaf variety is for zone 9, this beauty is an annual here.

  • grows 18-36” depending on variety  

  • performs best in full

  • thrives well drained soil

  • clump forming grasses (very well behaved!)


Sedums are classified as succulents, meaning plants that store an abundance of water in their leaves.  Succulents like sedums have leaves that are leathery in texture and plump.   These water filled leaves make the plants extremely hardy for hot dry conditions which is why sedums are great for rock gardens.

Plant Personality:

  • most are zone 3-8..

  • grows 4-24” depending on variety  

  • performs best in full (hot spot hero!)

  • thrives well drained soil but can handle sand and dry clay

  • loads of varieties available in foliage colours such as gold, gray, blue, red and purple and growth habits from low ground covers to sturdy uprights.

I hope this inspires you to add one more element to your gardening fun.  I expect to see a lot of you groping the goods in the garden center this year!  Just be gentle.

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