No need to worry about whether colors match and pair well. Perfect harmony is so hard to master! A clean, white garden is pleasing in its simplicity. The goal? Introduce as many white blooms as can be, without forgetting rich, textured foliage to give the eye a focal point.
To learn more, read:
1/ A monochromatic garden
The power of White
Bright colors typically do well in places with lots of light; pastel tones will shine in cooler more northerly place. And white? White does great everywhere! This defective pigment appears in virtually all types of flowers: it’s an “albino” trait. White, as a color, doesn’t attract insects, but most of the time flowers make up for it thanks to the fragrance they release. Indeed, white flowers often have the strongest scents of all.
How to make white flowers shine?
The term “monochrome” isn’t actually true: out of sheer necessity, you’ll need to pair your white flowers with green, a color all plants share to some degree! However, even here you have interesting options: silver-colored leaves, and leaves that have variegated foliage will do the trick. To avoid getting bored with a single-colored garden, it’s particularly important to set up different garden styles. Introduce rhythm to the garden with a few dominant specimens, filling in voids with other plants that might be more hazy or easily sway with the wind.
Of course, adding a few hints of pastel colors isn’t forbidden. You might even choose to plant a few stark spots of color that will highlight the whiteness of the rest of the garden. White will also seem more intense if you set a flower bed up in front of a dark-colored background. For instance, deep green yew or holly, or even purple leaved plants like the ‘Purpurea Pendula’ Fagus sylvatica, elder, Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’ BLACK BEAUTY®, or smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’).
Even in low flower beds, dark backgrounds are possible: imaging white crocus emerging from a bed of black grass!
2/ A wide range of white blooms
Play around with shapes
You have so many options here that it’ll help to narrow it down thanks to soil type, blooming dates, and flower shapes. Pair tall panicles (Campanula persicifolia ‘Alba’, Delphinium, Veronicastrum virginicum) together with umbels (Ammi visnaga) or capitulums (daisy) together with wispy shapes like those of astilbe, goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) or meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria).
It’s preferable to alternates large flowers like those of peony, lily, agapanthus, roses, lupine, Exochorda with lighter blooms such as those of gypsophila, Crambe cordifolia, white valerian (Centranthus ruber ‘Alba’, and, why not, one or types of viburnum (Viburnum plicatum). The giant umbels of member of the Apiaceae family, like Ammi visnaga (an annual) will surely add a touch of elegance to flower beds. Don’t forget fruits, too, like the shiny discs of honesty (Lunaria annua) which will add their pearly reflections at the end of summer. Try to get your hands on a white-flowered variety that stays true to type even as it self-sows.
3/ Include foliage
Aim to vary both the foliage and the entire structure of the plant.
Tall graphical vertical lines
To provide volume to your flower beds, try adding tall vertical-growing plants. Willowleaf sunflower (Arundo donax ‘Variegata’) sends its stems to over 6 feet (2 m). Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea ‘Feesey’), which looks very similar, will only grow twice as tall (4 feet / 120 cm when blooming). Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ grows into large swaths of white-striped leaves. Helianthus salicifolius spreads naturally here and there. It looks like water fountains with its leaves bending down towards the ground. To stay in color, remove the buds of its yellow flowers when they appear in September-October.
Walls and arbors can provide extra height, too, especially if you dress them with tight-blooming Plumbago Escapade White.
These will occupy spots near and between taller erect plants, so that the entire flower bed looks more balanced. Choose any shade of green, from light golden hues to nearly dark leaves, without forgetting to consider silvery ones and glaucus ones. In dry terrain, the gray leaves of Artemisia offer a wide range of texture, from the finest with Artemisia canescens and A. ‘Powis Castle’, to large, sometimes serrated leaves with A. ludoviciana ‘Silver Queen’, etc. You can finalize the bed with santolina, Helichrysum, lavender, rosemary, Anaphalis…
To extend the effect of the blooming, consider placing a few shrubs with variegated foliage, such as Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’, Weigela florida ‘Nana Variegata’, Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’, and Rhamnus alaternus ‘Argenteovariegata’. Flashy wide leaves of silvery thistle, an artichoke, Eryngium …
White flowers by Susanne Nilsson under © CC BY-SA 2.0
White-themed Hidcote Manor by Dave Catchpole under © CC BY 2.0
Bees on ammi by Siggy Nowak under Pixabay license
Single Camellia, white by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
White-covered shrub by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Variegated maple by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work