White in the Garden

IMG_6354In clothing and home decor, I avoid white due to my unfortunate tendency to spill coffee. But in the garden, judicious use of white is striking and it often gives a focal point to the garden. Recently, I’ve been enjoying several white patches. In back, these lilies (Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’), which I bought at the MSHS booth at the St. Paul Home and Patio Show this winter,  just started blooming. They are later blooming than other lilies, which may be because the spot in which I’ve planted them is too shady. I will move them this fall into a sunnier spot and remember to stake them next year. These are tall and striking, a real eye-catcher in an otherwise green part of the garden.

IMG_6359Near the lily is this new Annabelle hydrangea bush I planted this spring. Here’s a case of putting the right plant in the right place. Ever since it was planted in this somewhat shady spot, it has looked healthy and happy, and for the past few weeks, it’s been putting out bunches of white blooms. Annabelle is an old-fashioned hydrangea and will get 5 feet tall and wide. It makes a lovely hedge and is a reliable bloomer as far north as USDA Zone 3.

IMG_6365Finally, in the front-door garden, I have white sweet alysum. I’ve had poor luck with alysum in the past, but this year’s relatively cool conditions have been perfect for it. The white color contrasts well with the deep purple of these Wave petunias and the sunny yellow of the coreopsis planted near it.

Some gardeners choose to isolate white in one part of the garden and this can be beautiful, especially at night. If you’d like to try a white garden, check out this article on principles of designing with white.

Garden Invasion Averted!

I have just dodged a garden bullet. Earlier this week, I wandered into a nursery having a big plant sale. I was specifically looking for a plant with variegated foliage to brighten up one of my backyard beds. This has been a difficult bed to make attractive. It has too many shrubs in it, the light is a mixed–deep shade in the morning, then full sun in the afternoon, then more shade. It has also been the scene of many battles between me and a particularly wily gopher. Too many smoke bombs have been set off beneath this bed’s soil, and it shows. A small digression: In battling gophers, forget about smoke bombs and poisons; instead, find yourself a neighbor who can shoot a BB gun or set traps, or learn to do it yourself.

Two years ago, I planted Lamium ‘White Nancy’, a pretty green and white groundcover in this bed. It has slowly spread, and it really lights up an otherwise drab area. I wanted something like that. In the nursery, I spotted a large selection of a pale green and white plant. It looked particularly healthy for so late in the season, with a mass of 6-inch tall stems with leaves on top as well as a few poking out of the holes of the pot. I liked the name, Snow on the Mountain, and picked up three pots. When checking out, I asked the clerk if the plant could handle significant sun. “Oh, don’t worry,” she said, “This plant can handle just about anything.” Do you think she was trying to tell me something?

Before planting, I decided to get some information on my lovely new plant so I could share it in this blog. Good thing, too, because I had just purchased a plant that is considered invasive iinvaders.jpgn Wisconsin and a little dangerous everywhere else. Snow on the Mountain (Aegopodium Podagraria ‘variegata’ ) is also called Bishop’s weed or goutweed and is a useful for covering big areas that won’t support much else, such as under trees. It’s also good in contained planters, such as these shown on the U of M’s web site. But for most gardeners it’s just too hardy and getting rid of it is darn near impossible.

For now, the potential invaders are sitting in their pots outside my garage–where new sprouts are popping out of the pot holes everyday. Next time, I’ll do my research before going to the nursery.