In the Garden:
Upper South
August, 2000
Regional Report

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My "almost white" garden in full bloom.

My Almost White Garden

With the dog days of late August upon us, one of my favorite areas in my garden is what I call "the almost white garden." No place is more cooling and refreshing on a summer's evening than this moon-shaped 15x50-foot area, its two benches surrounded by an arbor covered in flowering vines and fragrant flowers. I call it my "almost white garden" because this area evolved over time, and some lavender-flowered plants still reside there. I've also included a number of silver- or gray-leaved plants. However, most of the plants do have white flowers.

A White-Flowering Tree

One of my favorite plants in this garden is a summer-blooming, white-flowering tree. Directly next to the arbor and benches is a seven-sons tree (Heptacodium miconioides). Introduced from China by the Arnold Arboretum in the last decade, this 20-foot tree has 6- to 10-inch-long clusters of tiny white, fragrant flowers. Plant interest continues in winter with its flaking bark.

White Annuals

Last year I had moonflowers, which are an evening delight, vining over the arbor. This year I tried the white-flowered form of cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea scandens), which normally has lavender-blue flowers. The bell-like flowers resemble those of Canterbury bells (Campanula medium). The vines started blooming when fairly young and only about 5 feet tall. They now extend another 5 feet to the top of the arbor and continue to grow with their easy-to-train tendrils.

For height and delicate texture in the white garden, I use the white varieties of spider-flower (Cleome hasslerana). Cleome readily reseeds itself, so that all I do the following spring is move or remove seedlings. White ageratum, jimson weed, and white nicotiana varieties also reseed themselves, with the latter two providing a rich evening scent. Another easy care "annual" is the white form of mealy sage (Salvia farinacea). Actually a tender perennial, hardy to zone 8, it dies back to the ground in the winter but resprouts in the spring in my zone 6 garden.

The Best White Perennials

Some perennials in the white garden have been blooming for weeks and show no signs of abating. The double Japanese aster (Asteromoea mongolica) has numerous small white flowers on plants 2 to 3 feet tall. 'White Swan' echinacea is a creamy-white variation on the purple coneflower, and there is also a white form of anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and a white lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Several varieties of Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) produce daisies at different growing heights. Fragrant 'Mt. Fuji' and 'David' cultivars of summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) are blooming profusely with no signs of mildew.

And of course the showpiece of the white garden has to be my white rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). It's been blooming for weeks, and even though the plate-size flowers last only a day, it will produce lots of buds up until frost.


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