Between work and the heat of the day, often the most pleasant and practical time to be out in the garden is in the evening. Since this is a prime gardening time for me, one area of the yard was transformed into a white garden to provide some shimmering but soothing interest at the end of a long day.

Something about this space just called for a white, rectangular garden. There was a blue spruce, white beauty bush, white lilac and white spirea already in this area and a clump of 5 young grey birches with white bark. While loosening the soil in that area as well as in other spots throughout the yard, we managed to accumulate a fair amount of nice sized stones that were used to edge the bed. Then a pathway was created that ended at a small stone patio.

White garden in winter 2008

White garden in winter 2008

Plants have come and gone through the years. The 5 grey birches were toppled one by one in severe ice storms and now a Carolina silverbell stands in their place. A beautiful star magnolia was lost in that October snowstorm and other plants have been extracted for trying to take over the world.

A colonial style garden arbor was placed next to the patio supporting a white climbing rose and autumn clematis. I found the most perfect plant holding statue to go underneath it!

Found the perfect complement to the wrought iron arbor. dmp UConn

Found the perfect complement to the wrought iron arbor. dmp UConn

Not that I have a lot of chances to just sit and enjoy but when I do, I find this is the garden I gravitate to.

Seating on patio in white garden

Seating on patio in white garden

If the thought of a white garden appeals to you, there are several things you might want to consider when planning it. Plants with white flowers or variegated leaves really show up more in shady areas than in sunny ones when viewed during the day. They also stand out more with a green or other dark-colored backdrop. When planning a white garden, judicious use of a building, fence, evergreens or other shrubs can supply the darker contrast needed to make the garden come alive.

White garden entrance. dmp UConn

White garden entrance. dmp UConn

Also, not all white flowers are pure white; they can range from white to cream and even be tinged with green or pink. Along with white flowers, one can include silver-leaved foliage plants like dusty miller, ‘Silver Mound’ artemesia, Japanese ferns and salvias. Think about integrating variegated leaved shrubs or perennials, trees with white flowers or even plants with new growth that comes in white like the ‘Gentsch White’ hemlock.

Gentsch White hemlock. dmp UConn

Gentsch White hemlock. dmp UConn

White flowers, more so than other colors, can really take on an unattractive brown appearance when they go by. More deadheading than usual might be called for unless plant selection is carefully made.

Look for plants with white flowers from early spring (think bulbs) throughout the summer and into fall. There are thousands of species and cultivars to choose from. Consider the judicious use of garden ornaments to continue the white theme whether it be a bench, urn, birdhouse, statue or fountain.

White corner post. dmp UConn

White corner post. dmp UConn

While I integrated white flowering plants into an almost predetermined space because of the shrubs and trees already present, I have seen some white garden beds cut out in the shape of a crescent. A down to earth moon garden if there ever was one!

Happy Gardening!

Dawn P.