Louise Tomlin takes a look at restricitng your use of colour to only white flowers to create a sense of harmony and elegance…

There’s no getting away from the fact that 2020 has been strange for all of us, the pandemic means having to get used to new rules that change on an almost weekly basis and just when things seem to be easing there’s the feeling of the inevitable slide back down hill towards more scary times and who knows what? I sincerely hope that you are all ok and managing to keep on keeping on, despite the difficulties.

For this issue I had a plan tore-visit a garden I had been to several times before that I’ve always found uplifting, with the aim of sharing it with you as a break from the dreary and tedious virus news. This was to be Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, inparticular the White Garden, as it was something I fell in love with years ago.I planned to take photos to show you how beautiful it is and to discuss the idea of how effective it can be limiting the choice of colour in a garden design.

Sadly the visit wasn’t possible so I had to rethink and eventually struck on the thought that although I couldn’t show you images of the glorious white garden, I could try to tell you why it is so special and to include examples of plants that could be used in a scheme for a white garden design. So, apologies for not having a lovely pic of the white garden as the main photo.

The idea of a garden that only has white flowers in it may sound boring, but it can be a way of creating a classy, restful and elegant composition that will look tasteful and refined. It allows a ‘less is more’approach. We’ve all seen gardens where colour is over done, creating a riot of colour clashes, the effect is busy, hectic and definitely not relaxing, as your eyes whizz from plant to plant, all of them competing for your attention.

Restricting your choice to white however is not boring. White is a very complex colour, in fact it’s not just a single colour, there are an infinitesimal number of whites in nature as it is made up from all the colours in the spectrum. When you look closely you notice subtle shades of green, yellows and pinks creeping in that give it depth and different character. An example is the hollyhock in the photo (bottom left), from a distance it’s white, but look closer and you see pale green at the centre, hints of yellow in the petals and pink in the furled bud.

White reflects light, look at the way these anemone Japonicas glow (bottom centre). They are growing in a border in rather dark and dingy area of my garden that suffers from being in the shadow of my large fig tree. Never the less they pick up the small amount of available light and seem to shine. Likewise the lovely white rose (top photo) that I planted in memory of our dear departed Simone Gallon, which now thrives in that border, I like to think her light shines on. So white flowers will brighten up a shady spot and create contrast especially with a dark background for extra dramatic effect.

When you minimise colour, it allows you to explore different textures and surfaces in foliage. You can include non-flowering plants like feathery ferns, soft and velvety stachys, sharp silvery leaves of Mediterranean plants, pale greens and greys like hostas, not forgetting dark glossy leaf bushes and shrubs, or climbers like the Trachelospermum jasminoides (bottom right). This one pictured here is a win-win as it has loads of star shaped, white scented flowers and dark waxy leaves. They all come into their own amongst the shapes and forms of your white blooms to create a sense of harmony and restfulness.

Take a moment to Google Sissinghurst, White Garden for some further inspiration and hopefully you will agree it’s stunning.

Keep safe everyone.

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