We have such wonderful weather these days and in spite of heat waves and hail storms, our garden is so beautiful at night and in the early morning hours. White flowers always take pride of place with the way they seem to light up the garden and glow in the dark so I decided to do a little research to see what tips the experts have on using white to enhance the garden.
One of the pointers is that white carries the eye through the garden and into the distance. You can use this quite cleverly to give the illusion that your garden or even just an area is bigger than it really is by planting white towards the back. In the same way it can also make a walkway look wider (take note, Leoné!).
White is known for creating a soothing effect in the garden which can be enhanced by using silver, pale grey or variegated foliage among the flowering plants. Embroider your beds with the “white lace” of white yarrow, nierembergias, baby’s breath or dianthus to create a mood of tranquility. Or plant a few white blooms around your entertainment area to act as a focal point at night. My favourite is the white night flowering water lily in our pond which is a real joy when we sit out on the stoep on these warm summer evenings.
And for those of you who cannot resist lots of colour, bear in mind that planting white between your other flowering plants will act as a contrasting foil to make those vibrant colours pop out even more.
Night flowering water lily
Vitex agnus castus (missing in action in our garden - see below)
IN THE NURSERY
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· Indigenous plants
If the above story has got you motivated to introduce more white to your garden, consider the summer flowering Pavetta lanceolata. This is a beautiful evergreen and hardy shrub with grey bark and elliptical dark leaves as a backdrop for sprays of white scented flowers that attract birds and bees. It likes semi shade and is supposed to grow to 4 m but I think in our climate it will be more like 2 m. Maybe a local gardener can advise?
Dianthus mooiensis is another possibility, with its needle like silver leaves and large white flowers with fringed edges. This lovely multi stemmed 30 cm high perennial is deciduous and very hardy and flowers from spring to summer. It grows well in between other perennials and is ideal for bringing a lacy effect to your sunny flower beds.
Pelargonium x reniforme is a new tuberous scrambling hybrid ground cover with medicinal properties. Evergreen and hardy, it has scented textured leaves and delicate purple flowers from summer to autumn and is happy in sun or semi shade.
The rare grassland bulb Zantedeschia rehmannii has lance shaped leaves and striking small funnel shaped cream flowers with a pink flush in summer. It is deciduous and very hardy and can take sun or semi shade. It grows about 50 cm high.
· Exotic plants
Aristolochia fimbriata is something for the plant collector. This rare and unusual prostrate trailer has rounded leaves with silver veining and small yellow and maroon balloon like flowers in summer which attract butterflies. It is deciduous and semi hardy and reaches a height of about 10 cm. Plant in semi shade.
Amorphophallus bulbifer is another interesting addition to a garden. This is a rare deciduous bulb which appears in late spring when a mottled curled up leaf pushes up from the ground. It has large rather spectacular flowers with a pink spathe in summer and hand shaped dark green leaves where small bulbils form. It is semi hardy, grows about 1 m tall and likes shade to deep shade. The plants in the nursery are just opening up their leaves, which makes it an ideal time to buy and transplant. If they are planted later in the season when the stems are fully grown, this year’s growth will die down.
Dendrobium nobile is a gorgeous epiphytic orchid with strap like leave and racemes of flowers in spring that come in a variety of colours. It is evergreen and semi hardy and can take sun or semi shade.
Amongst the wide variety of passifloras, Passiflora Marie Rosa really stands out with its unusual star like pinkish coral flowers. This is an evergreen free flowering vine that works well in a hanging basket in full sun. It is hardy to 0° C and flowers from spring to autumn.
I got so fed up with buying small bags of coir for my hanging baskets, that I finally succumbed and bought a “bale”. Needless to say we now have enough coir to keep us going for the next ten years. I have decided to sell some of the surplus to clients in say 20 litre quantities. Please let me know if you are interested.
We seem to have sold out all our white Chaste Tree plants (Vitex agnus castus) and the mother plant died a sudden death. They should be flowering in the garden now. Please let me know if you have a plant so I can beg a few cuttings.
As Christmas approaches don’t forget that we have gift vouchers for sale. Maybe even mention to your partner or friends?
With the festive season upon us we wish you all a wonderful holiday and time spent with family and friends. For those of you who are planning a quiet time at home and in the garden, we will be open through the Christmas season (except for the special holidays), albeit sometimes short staffed.
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