Continuing our weekly periodical on colour based cultivars, we bring to you a selection of white and cream hued blooms to accompany those other tones we’ve already covered. The White Garden at Sissinghurst is a famous example of the use of this single colour scheme, although it is of course balanced with green foliage. As any interior design programme will tell you, the primary feeling the colour white provokes is that of space, however, in too great abundance this can translate to emptiness, coldness and sterility. It is important, should you choose to populate your garden with primarily white, that you maybe complement it with rich hues of red, dark blue and purple in order that you don’t lose all the warmth and welcome a garden should evoke. After all, the last thing one wants to be reminded of in their garden is a hospital, which can be a common connotation when white is over used!
Floral and Hardy’s Five Faves:
Clematis ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’
This variety of Clematis was first introduced to the British Isles in the 19th century and has since become one of the most popular species of deciduous Clematis in the country. As a deciduous climber the Duchess will perform best when supported by a pergola or trellis and preferably in a sheltered position facing any direction but north. It is also a hardy species that prefers a clay based alkaline soil and the beautiful, double, white flowers will bloom with or without full sun.
‘Silverbush’ is a low-growing, evergreen shrub with a spreading habit that will yield small white, yellow-centred, trumpet-shaped blooms. They prefer full sunlight and will tolerate most soils and ph levels, aside from silt based compounds. They are known to bloom throughout spring and summer and for the rest of the year will show the silver foliage for which they are named, however, because of the fragility of their blooms, it is advised you plant them in a sheltered area of the garden.
‘Burning Bush’, as it is more frequently referred to, is a woody perennial with erect stems, lance-like, lemon-scented, emerald green foliage from spring to winter and fragrant, white, spidery florets through summer. They are rated with level 4 hardiness and are among the least fussy cultivars on our list as they will tolerate any acidity, soil quality, sunlight allowance or level of exposure. As long as some sunlight is provided alongside a well-drained soil then this plant will thrive. Its common name derives from the fact that should you light a match close to its faded flower heads, they will ignite. A blue flame will surround the upper part of the plant, but no damage will be done! Amazing!
The grandiflora variety of Magnolia is a large, rounded evergreen shrub or tree, reaching up to 12 metres at maturity. It sports deep green, leathery leaves that are often rusty brown on their underside and, along with these, it will also yield intensely aromatic cream shaded flowers in summer. Magnolia grandiflora will tolerate acidic or alkaline soils of practically any consistency however due to the dimensions of its flowers you’ll want to ensure they’re well sheltered, preferably by a nearby wall that can also provide additional support for the stems.
‘American Wake Robin’ serves as another name for this beautiful, tri-petalled cultivar whose fragrant white petals are complemented by their yellow inflorescences at the blooms’ centre. The ideal growing conditions for this plant include full shade, or partial shade at the least, and preferably humus-rich, acidic soil. Make sure the site is moist but well drained and that the plants’ upright stems are adequately sheltered.
In closing, before embarking on your snowy crusade, it is important to remember that, while each of these cultivars would make a beautiful addition to your garden, unless your intention is to create a fully white garden for purely dramatic effect, you should use their hue sparingly, lest you should rob your beds of the vibrancy that so many of us associate with an inviting and uplifting outside space.
By Josh Ellison