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How to Create an All White Garden

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Written by Dena Bolton   

how to create an all white gardenIntro:  I have come to appreciate white in the garden. It all began when my daughter gave me about forty gladiola bulbs one year - all white - which rapidly multiplied. I, a lover of bright, vibrant colors, began to realize that white does have a certain appeal.  An all white garden can bring light to dark areas of your landscape, plus the white blooms really stand out at night.

Step 1:  You should first realize that there is white and then there is white. You might, for example, choose for the back of your border some climbing pure-white clematis, some tall pure-white delphiniums and gladiolas, and some pure-white garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).  Of course, no white garden would be complete with the evening-blooming moonflower (Ipomeoa alba).

Step 2:  Add flowers with white blooms that have hints of other colors.  For instance, you might decide to add Lilium regale (not to be confused with the 'Easter Lily,' which is Lilium longiflorum), that has white petals with rosy-colored backs and prominent golden-yellow stamens. A little more yellow can be introduced by adding some Shasta daisies with their yellow eyes standing out against all of the white. Then there is Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria), which is more of a silvery-white. If it does not get enough sun, its foliage can even tend more to a greenish-white color. You might also think to add a mophead hydrangea; i.e., the variety known as 'Mme. Emile Mouillere.' You will soon notice, however, that the blooms are not pure white. Instead they are tinged with a pale lavender. You might then plant a white spider flower (Cleome spinosa) just because it has a pink tinge and looks good with the hydrangea. The touch of pink also seems to compliment your Lilium regale. Naturally, gaura needs to be included, especially since its tiny blooms also have a hint of pink. As I mentioned earlier, there is white and there is white.

Step 3:  Of course, as you blithely add more and more flowers with white blooms, such as white cosmos and white candytuft, you begin to notice the foliage. No white garden is completely white, after all. Different types of foliage in varying shades of green and with different textures add interest to your white garden. For example, the feathery foliage of your cosmos will soften the look provided by the more staple leaves of your lilies and garden phlox.

Step 4:  Also, there are foliage plants, which may not be a pure white but still fit in nicely in an all-white garden. One is artemisia, my favorite being 'Powis Castle.' However, you might wish to choose the 'Silver King' (Artemisia ludoviciana), which has a slightly different type of foliage and, as a result, a different look. Neither, however, are white. Instead they are more of a silvery-green, which does work well in a white garden. Also, you can pick hostas with leaves edged in a creamy-white, such as the Hosta crispula. There is also a white hosta - 'White Feather' - that is available; however, its leaves develop streaks of green as it matures. It also produces lavender flowers.


•Look for some interesting annuals that you can pot in containers and place in your garden for some textural interest.


•Always be sure that the perennials you pick to plant are hardy in your particular zone.

•Always give your plants the right growing conditions.

•Do not put plants together that have different growing conditions.  For example, do not plant moisture-loving plants with those that are drought-tolerant.

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