Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dreams of White Gardens

Alyssum Carpet of Snow
Alyssum "Carpet of Snow"

When I bought my midcentury house near the coast, I had dreams of creating a white garden. I hadn't yet been to Sissinghurst Castle, but I'd read about its garden rooms and craved one of my own. Almost immediately, I bought two white crape myrtle trees, two nandina plants, and a white geranium.

A few months later the camellias that came with the house burst into colorful bloom. Unwilling to uproot them, I relinquished the idea of having my own white garden. 

Mock orange - philadelphus lewisii
Mock orange

But I didn't give up planting annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees with white blossoms. You see, white helps flowers with clashing colors play well together. Recently my golden native azalea and a nearby peach tree bloomed at the same time. Their blossoms competed for attention until I planted an Easter lily in their midst.
Easter Lily
Easter Lilly

Red Tip Photoinia blossoms
These blossoms on a Red Tip Photinia are perhaps more champagne than white.


Temple Bells

Temple Bells (Pieris japonica)

Two years ago after returning from a trip to Japan, where I saw numerous Pieris shrubs growing near temples in Miyajima and Kyoto, I purchased a small one at the Charleston Horticultural Society annual plant sale. My Pieris is still small. I love the way the tiny bell-shaped flowers dance in the breeze.

Wild Blackberry

Other white flowers appear in the herb garden, on brambles, and on productive fruit trees.

Citrus blossoms
Citrumelo blossoms
Cilantro aka coriander blossoms
Cilantro (aka Coriander)
Plum blossom
Plum blossom

Fringe tree
My young Chinese fringetree (Chionanthus retusus)
Nearly eighteen months ago I made a day trip to an out-of-town nursery that imports and cultivates numerous Asian plants. My intention was to purchase a weeping cherry tree. Due to an apparent misunderstanding, a nursery employee sold me a Chinese fringetree rather than the weeping cherry I had requested. Having bought several other plants as well, I was halfway home before I realized a mistake had been made.

White fringe tree at Brookgreen Gardens
 Blossoms on a fringetree at Brookgreen Gardens

Last week I went to Brookgreen Gardens to hear my poet friends Susan Laughter Meyers and Libby Bernadin read. While there, I saw gorgeous fringetrees covered in blooms. I expect these were the native Chionanthus virginicus.


Meyer lemon blossoms
Fragrant Meyer lemon blossoms

White Lady Banks rose
Lady Banks rose
White snapdragon

Dutch Iris
Dutch Iris

Azalea Mrs. G.G. Gerbing
Azalea "Mrs. G.G. Gerbing"

Backlit white daffodils
Backlit white daffodils
With the exception of my photograph of the fringetree at Brookgreen, all the pictures in this blog post are ones I took of blooms in my yard this month. My favorite white flower, the moonflower, is absent. I don't expect to see it again until July.

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