The Moonlight Garden

white flowers in garden

White gardens have been popular for ages. One of the most popular and well known white gardens is Sissinghurst Castle’s famous white garden in Britain developed by writer Vita Sackville-West.  White gardens are so reflective in partially shaded areas against the green of surrounding trees, shrubs and lawns and stand out in the evening when other colors of blooms seem to fade into the darkness.  They are referred to as “moonlight” gardens for this reason -they reflect low light like the moon.  It gives the gardener a chance to plan a garden room in the yard lighting up a partially shaded area by selecting plants that expand the bloom season with white from the beginning of the season until the end.
There are countless plants to choose beginning the season with white varieties of daffodils, tulips, spring blooming varieties of anemone, sweet woodruff, iris, pulmonaria (“Sissinghurst White” variety), astilbes, bleeding hearts and Solomon’s seal.  The summer season can include lilies, dictamnus,  phlox, baby’s breath, roses,  both ground-covering & upright veronica, calamintha,  hostas, goatsbeard, and hardy varieties of dianthus,   Plants that extend the season into fall can include Japanese anemone, chelone (turtleheads), and chocolate Joe-pye weed,   White annuals can be added to fill in the gaps for continuous bloom as the perennials go through their bloom cycles.  Fragrance can be included by adding the classic white Oriental lily Casa Blanca which blooms in midsummer and sweet autumn clematis vine for the fall season.
There are many varieties of shrubs that can be incorporated in the backdrop including rhododendrons, azaleas and smaller varieties of hydrangea .   Be sure to consider foliage color and texture when doing a monochromatic garden.  For example, plants with gray foliage would complement a white garden along with various types of grasses.  Examples of perennials with gray foliage would include lamb’s ears and members of the herb family such as sage, rue and artemisia.  As always, you do need to make your selections based on the plant requirements for soil and light to fit your designated area when making your designing plans.
White gardens really stand out best in front of a permanent background such as an evergreen edge, fence or railing so consider that when mapping out your garden design.  Your plan of the garden could include a piece of appropriate statuary as a choice focal point.  A container or two of white plantings placed strategically would help with dimension.  Another option for dimension would be a white-blooming clematis on a vertical support.  Perhaps a garden bench or a couple chairs could be part of the design.  After all, the purpose of creating such a wonderful place is for you to enjoy the relaxing area you have created.

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