In clothing and home decor, I avoid white due to my unfortunate tendency to spill coffee. But in the garden, judicious use of white in blooms, accessories and even foliage is striking and it often gives a focal point to the garden. That’s one of the best ways to use white in 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.
Near the lily is this new Annabelle hydrangea bush I planted this spring—a great plant if you want to use white in the garden in a big way. 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.
Finally, 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 use white in the garden in only one spot 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.