19 October 2008

The White (Spring) Garden

There are no colours in the garden that I don't like, although I'm not much on pastels. I do love white flowers for their purity of colour and the way they shine on cloudy days, in early evenings, but I've never done an 'all white' planting (or an all-one colour planting) in my garden. That's about to change. 

The wonderful people at the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre sent me a lovely box of "hot white bulbs" which they call one of the trends for this year. I've thought about the bulbs now for a few days and have decided that it will be fun to do a small dedicated area all in white; bulbs are transitory, and as they fade, other perennials and shrubs will be coming into play. So depending on the weather, I might get these into the ground this weekend. Or not. If I only get that part of the garden prepared for them, that will be a good start.
Included in the mixture are 'Top White' Hyacinths. The smell of hyacinths can be a little overwhelming, which is why I only force one or two indoors during the winter, but I love the scent mingling on the spring air outside.
I have 'Thalia' narcissus already, and love them dearly. Actually I never met a narcissus or daffodil I didn't adore, and my last gardening column for the Halifax Herald was on narcissus. The nice thing about daffs is that they're deer and squirrel resistant because the bulbs are toxic, and they tend to multiply and live for years on end. To me, they're like sunflowers--I challenge anyone to look at a daffodil without smiling widely.

I got very excited when I saw these Tulipa turkestanica species tulips in the box; not only are they multiflowering, they tend to live for a few years. I planted some several years ago, and then promptly forgot what they were, but as soon as I saw the photo in the bulb sampler box, I recognized them from photos I had taken and left unlabeled. Hurray for solved mysteries!

These double white tulips are called 'Mount Tacoma', and I will enjoy them immensely. This past spring I had deep wine double tulips called 'Uncle Tom', and although I said that this WILL be an all white planting, I'm deeply, deeply tempted to toss a half dozen 'Uncle Tom' tulips into the mix just for contrast.

Muscari, or grape hyacinths, make me very happy too, and I'll be glad to add more white ones to the garden. I have numerous blue, bicolour blue, and even double-flowered blue muscari now, which politely multiply each year, but you can never have too many of them.

From the Allium family come A. neapolitanum, which will flower a little later than most of the bulbs. I've become very fond of alliums in the past couple years and plan to add more of the large ones, such as Star of Persia, but love the smaller-flowered species too.

Here's another case where I usually mix colours together; I love my snowy white crocus, but think they work even better with a purple or gold variety near them to set them off; particularly as we so often have snowfalls while the crocus are blooming. The variety included in the sampler is 'Jeanne d'Arc'.

Another narcissus in the sampler, this one is 'Petrel'. Again, they make me smile. I'm planning to plant about 100 new daffodils this fall, and skip the tulips (aside from a few species tulips and maybe those Uncle Toms. That's my story, anyway!)

The sampler didn't include any galanthus, but I'll be adding some anyway. Snowdrops make me utterly and completely happy when I see their little shoots emerging from the frozen, often snow-laden earth. Every year I add a few more, and though I'm still years from having nearly as many as I'd like to have, they're multiplying nicely.

Have you ever done an all-one-colour garden planting? How did you like it?


  1. Hi Jodi .. hope you are feeling well !
    I have a weakness for white too. In fact the small group of bulbs I did for Spring are white Dutch iris called Casa Blanca. I tucked them in with the roses and Provence lavender in the raised bed. So it will get lots of sun and warmth with the onset of Spring .. I can't believe I'm 'talking" about Spring already !! LOL
    If I had the room .. yes ! .. a speciality white garden for sure : )

  2. Hi Jodi, how wonderful that will be next spring, I can smell them already! I ordered the all white and all blue collections one year from Van Engelen because I was planning an all white garden. The blues went elsewhere mixed in with other colors. If you are going to do a one color garden, white is the one, I think. There will still be green with the leaves and I like to mix silver leaves in too, that counts as white in my book. ;->


  3. I love your white flowers. I'm planning on making an all white moon garden in the next house, something I always wanted here. You have inspired me to dream about that today.

  4. A person would do well to have a white garden with all of these beauties.

  5. Jodi,
    I think an all-white spring garden would be lovely. I've never tried a single-colored planting, but I definitely like the idea. I am looking forward to seeing your photos in the spring!!

  6. I'm a pastel person myself, but an all-white garden does sound beautiful, especially all the varieties you've pictured here. Can't wait to see this next spring!

  7. Looks like a stunning combination, and so much fragrance too.

    I have some images I took of Vita Sackville- West's Sissinghurst White Garden if you want further inspiration to continue the theme into summer on my blog.

  8. A all- white flower garden after a long white winter?
    I prefer to see red Tulips and yellow Daffodils and multi- coloured Crocus:))
    But white Snowdrops are welcome at any time after the long winter.
    Take care and cheers from Guildwood,

  9. White flowers near a place where you sit outside in the evenings is also nice.

  10. You've hit on my favorite garden color, Jodi, as well as many favorite bulbs. You will adore Tulipa turkestanica, and crave more even though they multiply and hang around for years when happy. Mount Tacoma is delightful, stunning like a peony, that I treat like an annual looking especially handsome blooming near bergenia. Sorry to say I have given up planting crocus (though a few pop up) because of ravenous varments that perch high in treetops watching me plant and head inside, waiting to dig and devour as soon as the door slams.

  11. White glows in the dark also! Love it although I have never planted an all white garden or just a one color garden. Maybe someday. These will be beautiful.

  12. Hey Jodi,

    First of all...that was a fun garden party at the Blomidon Inn and your mini lecture was great on beauty in our fall gardens. That is also my fav. time of the seasons and the garden shows it!
    So what took you so long for the white garden!(:
    I started one three years ago and have all that you mentioned along with a white rose bush, lilies, primrose, astilbe, fall anemone, bleeding heart and one cannot forget silver foliage in some grasses and ferns.
    It can be viewed from our little deck and just glows in the evening!
    We enjoy it and you will love your also!

  13. Jodi, that will be so lovely next spring, and it will give me something else to look forward to next year. Your transitory white garden is a great idea because you only need to date not get married for the entire garden season.~~Dee

  14. Oh! dear Jodi, you will have the most beautiful full moon spring garden. It will be heavenly / LOL Tyra

  15. I don't have the real estate cultivated for such a treasure, and look forward to seeing your spring gardens, Jodi. Daffodils are my FAVORITE flower period! Their scent is heavenly and I smile widely each and every time I see one. LOVELY flower selections, dear!

  16. I've never been a big fan of white flowers, even though they tend to be the most fragrant, but after seeing some of the whites folks have grown over the past summer, I think an all-white garden would be pure magic. Your choices are beautiful! (I hope you're doing well, jodi.)

  17. Beautiful series in white!

  18. I've never done an all colour planting though I do nearly all colour plantings on occasion. I, like you, would want to throw in something to contrast the dominant colour. Last year, for awhile, my spring garden was nearly a sea of red because the supposed orange darwin tulip I'd purchased was actually more red so this year, I've tossed in some deep purple ones to break up the lipstick smear.

  19. Never did an all-white garden, although I created a Japanese moonlight garden at one time... largely white, with silver foliage and a few pastels. Your white spring flower show will be magnificent... Deb

  20. I really would love to have a white garden. I love how the white flowers glow in the early evening light and when there's a full moon.


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