Monday, August 23, 2010

The Theme Garden

The White Garden
Among theme gardens the white garden is the most popular. White gardens were made popular by the work of famous garden designers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West. The white garden at Sissinghurst Castle in England, home of Sackville-West is long considered THE white garden. At night a white garden becomes a moon garden because the white will light up the dark. When white flowers are combined with silver or blue toned foliage the overall effect can be quite magical. Originally the Sissinghurst garden was planted as a rose garden in 1931, it was converted to a white garden in 1950. The centerpiece of the white garden at Sissinghurst is the rose covered canopy, covered with a profusion of Rose Mulliganii flowers in early July. I've never been lucky enough to see the canopy in bloom since my first visit to Sissinghurst was in March of 2001 and the last time was in June of 2003. The garden is a maze of low cut yew and boxwood hedges with various white flowers in the middle, all enclosed within a walled garden.

The White Garden at Sissinghurst is highly designed and both formal and casual and has set the standard for white gardens.

There are many elements that make a white garden successful. Enclosure: enclose your white garden with a picket fence, hedge or wall, or place it in a corner and the sense of enclosure will heighten the quality of the garden. Dark background: a dark background will make any white blossoms stand out even more, especially in a moon garden. Formal or Informal: the use of clipped hedges filled with white blooms such as at Sissinghurst is very formal and very effective. The blossoms simply pop out against the dark green frame of the hedges. However you can mix white flowers together in one bed and the use of blue, silver or variegated foliage can be quite effective.

Annuals suitable for a white garden are nicotiana, impatiens, cosmos, sweet alyssum, petunia and cleome among others.

Perennials for the white garden are many and can include peonies, candytuft,
dianthus, iris, Shasta daisies, foxglove, phlox, lupine, hydrangea
and of course, roses.

 No need to limit yourself to flowers in your white garden, there are many variegated shrubs and trees such as this Cornus Controversa Variegata that look stunning in a white garden.

 This is a very unusual formal white garden at Penhurst Place in England.

This wasn't part of a white garden but calla lilies could be
a beautiful addition to one.

 My own white garden is evolving, and is at the entrance to my backyard, in a dark corner and is filled with white astilbe, hydrangea, variegated hostas and white impatiens.

When researching plants for a white garden, the word "alba" within the botanical name is an indicator of a white plant or flower. There are many white plants to choose from, and don't forget bulbs, tubers and rhizomes. For a moon garden, try using fragrant plants such as jasmine since most fragrant plants are at their most scented at night. Many white gardens also use cream and pale yellow, it's all up to you as to what you want.

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