In the world of flowers and color, one of our favorite colors is white. White gardens are really green and white gardens, and can be an effective landscape design technique. White flowers, variegated leaves, and white painted wood are elements that are clean, bright, striking and quite showy against a green background.
Occasionally we at Details Landscape Art meet with homeowners who share our love of white. Whether in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, San Rafael, Napa, Healdsburg or Sebastopol, and whether the garden is in sun or shade, we can create a white garden paradise.
For an all year long white garden, plants must be chosen by bloom season, so that when the spring show is over, the summer flowers emerge and so on into the fall. Following is a partial list of white flowering plants we like to use:
Spring blooming shade gardens can be spectacular, since the white is particularly bright in the shade:
- Choisya ternata (Mexican Mock Orange) – fast growing to six to eight feet tall and wide, blooms late winter, early spring with very fragrant flowers
- Camellia sasanqua and japonica (many varieties) – sasanquas bloom in early winter, japonicas bloom throughout the spring months
- Pieris ‘Temple Bells’ – though there are many piers sizes and varieties, Temple Bells grow to four or five feet tall, three feet or so wide, with pure white drooping flowers for six weeks in late winter to early spring
- Azalea ‘Alaska’, ‘Fielder’s White’, and ‘White Lace’ – there are more than a dozen groups of evergreen azaleas. One is ‘Southern Indica’ which includes azaleas that can tolerate more sun. ‘Fielder’s White’ is a Southern Indica, while ‘Alaska’ is a Rutherford hybrid.
Be sure to include some summer blooming shade plants such:
- Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Sister Therese’ – large white flowers
- Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Tricolor’ (variegata) – Lace cap hydrangeas
- Star jasmine (which tolerates sun AND shade) – ground cover or vine, aggressive grower with profusion of white summer flowers. Very fragrant.
- Sarcococca ruscifolia – one of the few plants that tolerates deep shade. Extremely fragrant blooms in late winter, followed by red berries.
Full sun trees and plants:
- Akebono cherry – Huge flower show in spring, with white flowers tinged with pink. Looks like a cloud when in full bloom.
- Iceberg roses (both shrubs and climbers) – floribunda produces large clusters of white flowers all summer long into autumn. Benefits from a winter pruning to shape and thin.
- White carpet roses – low growing rose, reliable full sun bloomer
- Salvia greggii – semi-evergreen sage needs annual pruning to shape
- Lavender ‘Provence’ (yes they are available with white flowers)
- Santa Barbara daisy – short perennial to eighteen inches tall and wide, MUST be deadheaded and cut back four or five times each year to keep from getting leggy.
- Westringia rosmariniformus – large six to eight foot evergreen shrub with gray foliage, produces small white flowers continuously throughout the year.
- Viburnum ‘Spring Bouquet’ – evergreen shrub blooms in spring
Some of the above plant material, such as Hydrangea ‘Tricolor’ has variegated foliage, so even when not in bloom it can brighten up a shady area. Add a white arbor, as shown in the photo, for vertical interest and yet another white element for white gardens..