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GardenSMART :: Designing With White in the Garden

Designing With White in the Garden

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Is white a color? Yes! White light is made up of all the colors in the spectrum, even though you can't see them. Maybe that's why the color white goes with every other color—because it IS every other color. It has a certain freshness to it and gives our eye a place to rest. Because we are naturally drawn to white, we need to take care to use it strategically to prevent it from becoming overwhelming. Here are six examples of how to use white in the garden.

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Providing Contrast in Combinations

The container recipes shown here both contain Supertunia® Black Cherry® petunias and Superbells® Cherry Star calibrachoas. The one on the left continues the warm color theme with the addition of ColorBlaze® Marooned® coleus, while the one on the right uses white-flowering Snow Princess® sweet alyssum instead.

See how the pop of white between the red and pink flowers helps to separate them and highlight each blossom? From a distance, you'll notice this contrast whereas the container on the left will appear to be mostly one color. White has a special way of enhancing every other color around it.

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Monochromatic White Combinations

The monochromatic look—pairing multiple shades of the same color together—is very popular. When you pair several kinds of white flowers together, details like texture, form, and subtle color differences become more obvious.

In this container recipe, the large, rounded form of the Supertunia® White petunia flowers contrast beautifully with the dainty flowers of Diamond Frost® euphorbia behind them. Angelface® White angelonia provides height and spiky texture to the combination. The green foliage provides just enough separation between the three shades of white. This container recipe works because of the contrasts in texture and form.

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The Cooling Effect of White

Don't you feel cooler just looking at this water feature? What a perfect scene on a hot summer day. Water has a natural cooling effect, but so do bright white flowers and fresh green sprigs of pampas grass. All three elements are working together here to provide a light and airy feel in the space.

This container recipe works because both Snow Princess® sweet alyssum and King Tut® pampas grass need consistent moisture to thrive. These containers are likely watered daily in summer. The increased humidity provided by the water evaporating from below is also welcome by these plants.

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White Glows in the Dark

Have you ever noticed how the white flowers in your garden seem to glow in the shade and in the evening? White has a way of reflecting every ray of light that strikes it and amplifying that light back to your eye. That's why it is an ideal color to use in shade gardens and on patios where you tend to sit in the evening.

In the elegant scene pictured here, soft candlelight is reflected in the white Supertunia Vista® Silverberry petunias and Snowstorm® Giant Snowflake® bacopa. White candles light the way to the door the homeowner would like her guests to arrive through. Do you have a special gathering coming up where you could use this idea?

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The Formality of White

There is something about the pureness of the color white that makes it take on a more formal feel when used in certain settings. Can you imagine a bride walking down this path lined with Incrediball® hydrangeas? What a sight!

Think of how the color white is used in home décor. A room with white carpeting and a white couch might be used mostly by adults for entertaining guests. But a room with colorful carpets, a patterned couch and white accents (perhaps white window trim or a white mantle), would have a decidedly more casual feel. Likewise in the garden, the more white plants you include in your design, the more formal your garden may appear.

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White Hardscape Elements 

White may not come from the flowers in your garden, but rather from the hardscape that surrounds it. Hardscape includes all the non-living items like containers, patio furniture and pergolas. When you set a pure white backdrop for your flowers, it gives them the chance to take center stage. Their vibrant colors will look even brighter when set against white.

In this scene, the container of bright pink and white striped Supertunia® Lovie Dovie™ flowers jump out in contrast to the white patio set behind them. Can you see how this space has a cool feel to it because of the white décor and light-colored floor? The scene would have a completely different mood if the furniture had been made of dark metal and wicker. The light airiness will be especially welcome on hot summer days.

Want to learn more about using white in the garden?

Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.

Patent Info: Supertunia® Black Cherry® Petunia USPP27312 CanPBR5279 USUtility7642436B2; Superbells® Cherry Star Calibrachoa USPP23232 CanPBR4594 USUtility9313959; Snow Princess® Lobularia USPP21594 CanPBR4189; Supertunia® White Petunia USPP25485 CanPBR4778; Diamond Frost® Euphorbia USPP17567 CanPBR2830; Angelface® White Angelonia USPP19866; Supertunia Vista® Silverberry Petunia USPP20903 CanPBR3866; Snowstorm® Giant Snowflake® Sutera USPP17886 CanPBR2861; Incrediball® Hydrangea arborescens USPP20571 CanPBR4166; Supertunia® Lovie Dovie™ Petunia USPPAF CanPBRAF


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