Planning the winter/spring white garden

Last year I attempted a ‘spring white garden’. Bit of a disaster. I was aiming for white flowers from January to June. Turns out, this is way too long a time period to try and coordinate a ‘white garden’ alongside a summer technicolour extravaganza.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Mr Morse'
Only a few wee flowers on the Brunnera this spring

Here are some of the mishaps:

  • My tulips all died before flowering properly (except one).
  • A Cornus kousa var. chinensis didn’t flower.
  • The Philadelphus and white Alliums were flowering in late June alongside all the colourful flowers.
  • So called ‘White Obdam’ Narcissi were in fact stuffed with yellow petals (see main picture above).
  • Only three snowdrops showed up from the year before 🙁
  • The young Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr Morse’ only squeezed out a single stem of flowers (in pic above and right).
  • Viburnum tinus standards didn’t flower in their second year (pruned too late in the year?)
  • The only reliable plants were the plum tree in April and a couple of Hellebores (incidentally, these have grown to become one of my fave plants for their year round foliage and winter glam).
  • Oh, and a pot of white Hyacinths.

*sigh*… but onwards and upwards!

Looking to 2016 I am still optimistic of making this thing work! Let’s do this.

White Garden TakeTwo: the ingredients…

So, for the second year’s attempt I’m revising the plan. First, I’ve narrowed my sights and the white garden target is now just for Feb – April, with a real focus on April. Anything that flowers after this? Be gone! Cornus kousa? Composted I’m afraid. White Alliums? Get out the front. Too many colourful plants start flowering in Clapham from May onwards to try and restrict things to white in our garden from that point.

This is the plan:

  1. Plum tree as the main white focus – its blossom only lasts a couple of weeks and quickly fades to a pinky white colour, but it’s still a show stopper. [Flowers: early April]
  2. Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr Morse’ is one of my top most favourite plants (see earlier blog post)  for its white variegated leaves like ‘Jack Frost’ and its white flowers in spring. I have divided a few of mine and now have four relatively strong plants dotted around the garden going into their second year. [Flowers: March – April]
  3. Hellebores will start flowering early and I’m going to beef up the stock in late winter when they become available widely for sale, probably adding to the Helleborus niger with some hybrids, which flower longer, and possibly removing the ‘Ivory Prince’ hybrid, which I love but isn’t pure white enough [Flowers: February – April]
  4. Tulipa ‘Green Star’ – the lily flowered cultivar of ‘Spring Green are the backing dancers to the plum tree and I’ve ordered 80 bulbs (whoop whoop!) so more than one SHOULD flower next year 🙂 [Flowers: April – early May, but only just]
  5. Galanthus nivalis en masse, I’ve bought 50 bulbs to plant under deciduous shrubs from Anglia Bulbs, so they should flower [Flowers: February – March]
  6. Fritillaria meleagris – only 10 to try them out as I’m keen on some self seeders [Flowers: April – May]
  7. Viburnum tinus standards – will they, won’t they flower this year?
  8. Pisum sativum ‘Meteor’ – I might try growing some peas again for their flowers as they looked like early sweet peas and were definitely flowering in April (see earlier blog post)

And that’s it for now. I don’t want to over do it, because I need room for the main summer displays. Also, because too much white will look overbearing and tacky rather than fresh and classy. Against the winter dark, you only need a few splashes of white to make a big difference anyway (I hope!)

Watch this space peeps. I’ll add more updates as we go into late autumn and the bulbs arrive.

The following two tabs change content below.

Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *