White in the garden.

Introducing white planting to a garden will provide highlights which draw the eye through the space and brighten the dullest of spots. The versatility of the colour allows it to sit comfortably in most planting schemes, with the exception of hot borders as white will instantly have a cooling effect. White is welcome in a mixed colour scheme if there is an element of repetition to keep the eye bouncing through the border, otherwise a startling white flower may look a little out of place floating in a sea of colour. Planting strong white in dark corners immediately brings the space alive; also white planted at a distance but in view of the house will shine as dusk falls and all the garden colours fade.

White can be introduced more easily by being more restrictive with the colour palette. Working with cooler hues white combines well with blue and purple, perhaps enlivened with splashes of acid green. White and soft greens and greys is always a winning combination. White with pink is very fresh and strong and white with lemon yellow and pale blue is crisp and clean.

The ultimate option is an all white garden which many people are keen to create, maybe inspired by the white garden at Sissinghurst Castle. This Arts and Crafts style garden was set out in the 1930s by the owner Harold Nicholson and his wife Vita Sackville-West was responsible for the planting which followed Gertrude Jekyll’s design philosophy of colour themed planting. This is a fabulous example, but harder to replicate in the confines of the average garden. Being such a lover of colour, although I really enjoy all white planting, after a while I get the urge to introduce some colour; maybe with the advantage of having separate garden rooms it allows for the enjoyment of the all white space then the chance to move on for a colour fix, unfortunately we don’t all have the luxury of space.

However there is also the consideration of the many different shades and intensities of white. The purest cleanest whites are the most eye-catching and bring freshness to the planting. Also many white flowers have other colours splashed in their throats or concentrated on the stamens. A decision has to be made as to how strict your choices are going to be or if you will accept a little colour sneaking in.

Listed below are a few of my favourite whites.


Anemone x hybrid ‘Honorine Jobert’ – yellow stamens.

Anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’

Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Nivea’

Campanula persicifolia ‘Alba’

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ – golden central cones.

Epilobium angustifolium ‘Album’

Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Wirral Supreme’

Phlox paniculata ‘White Admiral’

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’


Rosa ‘Little White Pet’

Rosa ‘White Flower Carpet’

Rosa ‘Claire Austin’

Rosa ‘Susan Williams Ellis’

Rosa ‘Winchester Cathedral’

Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’


Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Madame Emile Mouilliere’

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’

Choisya ternata

Eucryphia x nymanensis ‘Nymansay’

Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’

Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme Lemoine’


Clematis ‘Madame Le Coultre’

Hydrangea petiolaris

Tracelospermum jasminoides


Allium ‘Mount Everest’

Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’

Narcissus ‘Ice Wings’

Narcissus ‘Thalia’

If you are tempted to try a white garden go for it, but do it with conviction and see how long it is before some colour starts to creep back in!