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Planning A White Garden

Learn how garden designer Rochelle Greayer designs an all-white garden.

Contributors: Rochelle Greayer

This week, I have been pulling together plans for a white garden to be installed this summer at a client’s home. I have been adding a lot of white to my own garden lately, as I think it is such a great way to brighten some of the shadier areas in a sophisticated way. But this client's garden is in full sun and will be more of a classic cottage floral feast.

A white garden obviously includes lots of white blooming plants, but I think it is important to not forget the other elements that will make the whole thing come together. I'll show you my basic recipe for pulling together an all-white garden.

Start with the Background Structure

When I’m looking to fill space and provide a backdrop in a white garden, I look to easy shrubs like Hydrangea ‘Limelight’, Buddleia ‘Inspired White’, and white blooming varieties of Spiraea. In this case I am also adding in a Sweet Autumn Clematis to climb over an adjacent railing. These shrubs will be the biggest plants and will ensure that something is always saying “I am a white garden”.

Add the Evergreens

The next big things to get planted are the evergreens. My project has a number of existing plants that we will be rearranging. We have some Buxus ‘Graham Blandy’, which are the tall skinny boxwoods, as well as a handful of mid-sized mounded boxwood and a dozen small globe boxwood. Normally, I would add something else like perhaps a pretty blue/silver Picea pungens ‘Montgomery’ or other evergreens, but we are trying to re-use as much as we can in this client's garden so I am sticking with what we already have. Evergreens will give the garden some shape and structure in the winter months. The bright white flowers will look oh-so-good backed by the lush green evergreens.

Layer in the White Bloomers

There are millions (I am not exaggerating) of options for white blooming plants. Look for the word ‘alba’ on types of plants that come in many colors — this will generally indicate a white flower. But this is by no means the only way to find white blooming plants. A walk through the garden center or any handy plant reference book will fill your head with options. To get started, here is a list of white bloomers that I am using in this garden.

Finish with Textural Stars

A white garden needs a finishing touch to bring it to life. These are the plants which, when set among all the white bloomers, add texture and a breath of something a little different. My favorites are always ornamental grasses, and in this mix I am using two old standbys  - Pennisetum alopecuoides ‘Desert Plains’ and Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue‘. The sophisticated look of these grasses will gracefully add just enough contrast.

In addition to the grasses, this garden is also getting a handful of silvery Stachys (lamb's ears). Kids live here and these ever-soft leaves never fail to be a hit with the little ones. Silver is a great addition to a white garden, generally achieved through silver-leaved plants. The lamb's ears will add color in a nice mass and won't have to be deadheaded.

If you'd like to check out some more all-white garden ideas, from modern to traditional styles, take a look at my Pinterest board: Garden Style: White Gardens

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Proven Winners.  I am not an employee of Proven Winners and all opinions are my own.

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