If you want to be happy for a lifetime - be a Gardener
Welcome to my ‘White Garden’ – and I love all flowers…as long as they are white.
Why a white garden? … The first time I received this question, I could not find the right words – it was so clear for me. White is beautiful, white it lifting, white is bright and fresh and white fills me with calm. To be true, ‘white’ is never only one color. It’s hundreds of shades and always with green.
Actually, my first plan was to copy the interior of our new home into the garden structure – modern, structured & bright. At the same time, I wanted tons of Lavender, Roses and Boxwood. A challenge…as this is partly contradictory. It’s difficult to give the style of my garden as per the definitions of RHS – I simply call my personal style “Contemporary Romantic”.
If you would like to create a white garden, a white flower border or simply add some very special white plants into your haven, I gladly share the plants I have chosen and their pro and contras.
A White Garden - maximum on a minimal site
My Garden in a Nutshell
Structure all year round
I have 5 sections in my garden, not counting the pots or the nursery. At the Entrance level, the garden is small and surrounded by walls.
To give some structure to our garden, I dreamed of white flowering trees, and my choice fell on the Lilac, Syringa Vulgaris, “Mme Lemoine”. We got the small trees from friends when we moved in and they are today the “big bones” of our garden.
Some years later, at my birthday, I received the Rose “Lykkefund”, which I planted just next to the my Syringa and a Clematis. The rose “Lykkefund” and the Clematis are now nicely growing through the branches of the Syringa and up to the sky, giving the tree a 2nd and 3rd “Flowering”.
Walls and Ground
On all the free spaces like walls and ground, I planted the Hedera Helix. The first years I was so grateful for the beautiful Hedera – it covered the dirty wall so perfect and gave structure to the Garden during the winter. After approx 8 years – I started to dig it out and it took me 2 winters. The Hedera Helix is invasive and sadly it took over the whole border, not leaving any space for the Roses, Pies or Lillies.
In the end, I had to decide between the Roses or the Hedera – and my choice was easy. In the meantime, I have replaced the Hedera with an evergreen Clematis, but it will still take years to reach the same structure. The climbing rose on the photo is called “Schneewalzer” and is a healthy and reflowering beauty.
Walls of Stone-blocks
We live in a hillside terrace house and our front yard is faced to the south-west with a huge open field in front. As the stairs are build into the hill, we have a long “wall of stone-blocks ” on both sides of the stairs. I really never like these clumbsy stone-blocks – one of my projects were to secure they are not seen during any time of the year.
In winter and spring, the stones are covered with Arabis Causcasica to light up the dark. In summer the border in front of the stairs are covered with roses of all kind. During the winter the evergreen Arabis is the star of the season it’s often one of the first plants that are in full bloom already in March.
Lavendula is actually the only plant in my garden that is not white.The over 10 meters long boarder is an eye-catcher for all visitors and the joy of the butterflies. The Lavendula surrounds almost all my flower beds. I cut them back hard every year and they remain compact.
All other borders are surrounded by Boxus, giving structure into garden during the winter too. Unfortunately, every year I am invaded by Box Caterpillar which force me to use a lots of efforts to keep my Box alive and healthy.
Blossom the whole year
Every year, I put all my efforts in securing that I have variety of plants flowering nonstop. I have summarized my top favorites for each season – these plants never give up on me and are wonderful and healthy.
To fill out empty spaces, I use annuals like Cosmos or sometimes “no name” Dahlias. Every year I find a new favorite.
The highlights by season:
White Christroses, Helleborus Niger are of course the favorite in a white Garden during the winter. Every year I buy some new ones for my pots in front of the entrance, and every spring after the flowering, I find a space in the garden to replant it early summer. During the winter I love the the Arabis which is an evergreen and sometimes show the first small flowers on an early sunny December day.
Another favorites are the pots next to our main entrance. We have several pots with white Violas Cornuta – and in the same pot – in levels – dozens of bulbs which soon will be welcome the spring.
The most important Acters during the winter are though scrubs like Lavendula or Buxus.
No doubt, this is the best moments of the Garden Year. Suddenly , everything happens at the same time.
The Queen of Spring is for sure the Paeonia Lactiflora. The joy is short, seldom more than 3 weeks. She is a little Diva, you never know when she will show up and for how long. Once the flowering is over, she actually remains beautiful. I often use the leaves until late fall when I create flower bouquets.
I rarely travel in Spring as I don’t want to miss out on the flowering of my plants. If you have some flowers that only flowers once – you wait a whole year to see them flowering. If your friends or family ask you for a weekend trip… Sorry, that don’t work for me…
My garden in summer is my haven. There is no place that I rather be. I have tons of Roses, around 50 plants and my favorite is “Memoire”. It’s perfect for cuttings, but I prefer to keep them in the flower-beds in the garden just because they are so beautiful. “Memoire” has large, white blooms – sometimes a little bit creamy and mostly healthy. Another favorite is the Rose “Aspirin” – I ordered it online and I could never believe it would turn out this well.
There is only one thing with Roses, they are not necessarily difficult to grow – but it’s a lots of work! If you start from the beginning, only choose Roses that clearly indicates that they have a strong health and never buy a Rose just because of a lower price.
In September and October, most of my flowers are blooming. The Roses, The Dahlias, Japanese Anemons and Fall Asters. This is the Grande Finale, and this year it lasted so long, I had almost no time to cut back the plants before the snow came. I have even left most the Dahlias in the ground this year.
The best thing during the fall is that you actually don’t need to fix so much. As long as all the flowers are blooming – it’s finally time to enjoy the garden!
Challenges and Mistakes:
Mission impossible 1
My best mistake ever – A Lavendula – Hortensia flower bed! The best thing with being a beginner is that you are a “believer”. The more you learn, the more you realize, how little you know.
When the first plants were delivered to our house, I got some comments from the workers for my plans. I remained stubborn, Yes – I want the Rhododendron and the Lavendula together in the same flower bed. I didn’t take it serious with a bog bed, as I had ordered Rhododendron yakushimanum. Nor did I take into consideration the needs of the Lavendula. Some years later I even planted the Hydrangea Endless Summer “The Bride” into the bed. Not sure who will win this battle, but the border is now growing like this since 10 years.
Spring is also the time of bulbs! I have hundreds of them – mainly the Tulip “Purissima”, in pots and all over the garden. And I get more of them every year as they naturalizes easily. My tip for new Gardeners: Think Big! I though that 20 bulbs would turn into a lake of white flowers. 20 Tulips is nothing when everything is brown and still sleeping.
I recommend to plant in levels, like in the pot above. During the Fall and Winter, the Helleborus Niger and the Viola Cornuta are the owner of the pot. Late Winter the Crocus will join and then be replaced with the Tulips in April. When the flowering is over, you place the pot in an unused corner in your garden – and after quick refresher, the pot is ready to use year after year.
If you have decided to have a White Garden – you actually need to stuck to it. If you get weak and buy another color – the whole concept will be lost.
This is the law of nature as the bees and butterflies are not aware of your color concept , and they will place a visit on all flowers. Latest the next year you will have pretty little “babies” in the color of the rainbow. With the exception of the Lavendula Borders – I have only one “Guest” in my Garden, a beautifully filled Pink Peonia, which grows in the same flowerbed as the white ones. As the flowering is short – maximum 3 weeks, I simply cut them and enjoy them in a vase in my living room.
Mission impossible 2
You know when you have lost the battle – and then you need to re-arrange.
I love Tulips, I had some hundreds bulbs planted on both sides of the house. However on the front side, I never ever saw them – the Deers love too and all I had left was the leaves and the empty flower stem.
I had to re-plant the tulips to the entrance side and plant Narcissus and Hyacinthus instead. The Deers shows no interest in them and I can live with this solution too.
In the beginning I used every pot and decoration I could get hold of. One day my husband was looking at all the pots and said that our garden has become a flea-market. I stepped back and realized that time had come for a make-over. I either bought new anthracite containers and re-painted the pots in the right color scheme. It took some seasons, but today I use almost only gray scaled pots and decorations that fits into the rest of the garden.
Facts & Figures:
City: Tagelswangen 15 km outside of Zurich
Size of Garden: 388 m2 including the house
Zone: between 7 & 8 (lowest temp. in Celsius –
15 or – 12 degrees )
Meters over sea: 520m
Compass Point: South-west
Soil type: Loam
Sunlight: Full sun and partial sun. Next to the
house : noon / afternoon shadow
Diverse: Hillside location with open field in front of garden. Sometimes very windy