One of the most famous gardens in England is the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. The estate, which included the 18th century tower was bought by Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicholson, back in the 1930’s. It was here, they lovingly created, what became one of the most famous gardens in the world. In actuality, the White Garden is a relatively small segment of the entire gardens at Sissinghurst but this ‘garden room’ is possibly the most renowned garden design to employ the concept of a single colour theme and does it, so very effectively.
The White Garden concept has subsequently been replicated by many contemporary garden designers… Vita actually referred to this space as her white, green and grey garden, for it was here, that she used her monochromatic colour scheme and textural foliage to such stunning effect.
Using a wide selection of white flowering shrubs and climbers, that bloom throughout the year, can result in an elegant, sumptuous space – the perfect spot for quiet contemplation.
We’re fast approaching the end of summer now and in a few short weeks the real planning period begins, for designing and planting for next season. Here are some of our favourite shrubs, to help you to create your own ‘White Garden’ for next year…
Our selection includes white flowering varieties for every season of the year and we’ve also included some spectacularly fragrant plants that will help to encourage pollinators into your garden…
Early Spring White Flowering Shrubs
Snowy Mespilus or Amelanchier Lamarckii is an early Spring flowering shrub – covered in profuse white flowers that resembles snow, this shrub develops lovely coppery, coloured leaves as the season progresses. One of the earliest shrubs to bloom in Spring are the Magnolias, the starry or trumpet shaped flowers appear, on leafless, sculptural branches. We’ve chosen our preferred, more unusual varieties for their prolific flowers and purity – Magnolia Wada’s Memory, Magnolia X Loebneri Merrill and Magnolia Alba Superba. We must give a special mention, to the beautiful Spring Flowering white Camellias, Camellia Japonica Compacta Alba and Camellia Japonica Snow Ball a stark contrast to their shiny, leather-like evergreen leaves.
Late Spring / Early Summer Shrubs for a White Garden
In late Spring the beautiful racemes of white flowering Wisteria will clamber among branches or tumble over arches, their incredible blooms are also highly fragrant, Wisteria Brachybotrys Shiro Kapitan‘s pea like flowers are beautifully perfumed and very delicately shaped. The Chinese Wisteria – Wisteria Sinensis Alba produces swathes of beautiful white fragrant blooms, hanging like bunches of grapes, in early Summer and will often produce a bonus, second flush of flowers in late summer.
Startlingly white Azaleas and Rhododendrons bloom in early summer, Azalea Dorothy Hayden is an evergreen variety and displays huge white trumpet shaped flowers with yellow stamens. Azalea Treasure is one of the Glen Dale varieties, another evergreen, which is very hardy.
Our recommended variety of Rhododendron is the white Rhododendron Mrs TH Lowinsky this has very unusual flowers that start life as lilac coloured buds, becoming white as the flowers mature, the tan coloured patterning remains throughout flowering.
Summer White Flowering Shrubs
The evergreen climber, Trachelospermum Jasminoides also best known as the Star Jasmine, starts blooming in June and will continue throughout the Summer.
Growing Tip: Plant it near the house or close to a seating area to benefit from the heavenly scent which becomes even headier at night.
Buddleia is often referred to as the Butterfly bush and for very good reason – we’ve chosen this smaller variety known as Buddleia White Chip .Its plumes of white, will flower all summer long and are an absolute magnet for pollinators. Watch the butterflies arrive and settle on the nectar rich, fragrant blooms. The leaves are a lovely silver, grey-green and this is an elegant cutting flower for the house, which also helps to keep them flowering.
Growing Tip: For an extended flowering period, make sure you dead-head to prevent them self seeding.
Agapanthus is the African Lily, producing tall spikes with a circular flowerhead that can reach 12 inches in diameter, these lilies look equally good when planted en masse in the border or as a single plant in a container. They do appreciate lots of sunshine. We have two white varieties Agapanthus Albus and the more compact Agapanthus White Storm. These are perennials, so plant and enjoy, year after year!
Also available in blue (but not for this page ;-)
Magnolia Grandiflora trees are magnificent and more commonly known as the Bull Bay tree, they are fairly slow growing but reach imposing heights and being evergreen, they are often used for privacy or screening purposes. The gorgeous green and bronze leaves are shiny and leathery and these incredible blooms appear in the summer, the perfume is sublime.
Lilac trees have been trending this year, reminiscent of English country gardens, we’ve sourced a wide range of really gorgeous varieties. The bright white Syringa Prestoniae Agnes Smith and cream coloured Syringa Vulgaris Madame Lemoine These are smaller than the usual size for Lilac trees, perfect for smaller gardens. Both varieties have highly fragrant blooms, lovely for cut flowers, which will fill your house with the perfume of lilacs.
Growing Tip: Train a Clematis or Rose into their branches so that when the lilac has finished blooming, they will act as a frame for your flowering climbers.
Hydrangea Paniculata shrubs commence their flowering in mid Summer – it’s a long flowering period and these fabulous blooms undergo quite some colour changes along the way. Extravagant looking flowers cover the bush and are loved by pollinators. This season we sourced some unusal Hydrangea Trees – these are real showstoppers – trained as half standard trees they will flout their blooms loftily at the back of the border or place them as sentinels either side of a doorway and just wait for the exclamations from passers-by. We have two varieties as half standards Hydrangea Paniculata Limelight and Hydrangea Paniculata Vanille Fraise
Late Summer to Autumn Shrubs for a White Garden
In late summer and autumn, when the garden is looking a little tired after the flowering frenzy of June and July, Hibsicus is there waiting to take up the baton. These highly exotic looking flowers are incredibly beautiful and when planted together will create a wonderful display of flowers that are really similar – but then again different. Hibiscus Syriacus Speciosus has pure white petals with a blood red centre slightly camouflaged by a frilly ‘double’ centre, whereas, Hibiscus Syriacus Red Heart displays its heart for all to see and the bees just love it. Then for a truly spectacular display the huge flowers of Hibiscus Syriacus Monstrosus are hard to beat.
Winter Flowering Shrubs for a White Garden
In winter the garden lies dormant but the subtle colours of this season have their own beauty. Many of these plants we’ve recommended here, are evergreen and so will provide colour and texture of one sort or another all year round. Spectacular flowers are in short supply, mainly because the pollinators are hibernating. However, we do have one little star plant to recommend – little known, it is a fabulous treat called Sarcocca Ruscifolia or Christmas Box, and as it’s name suggests, blooms in the heart of winter with the most divine, fragrant, white flowers. Evergreen, it will spread as ground cover in the most difficult areas – shady, dry, corner under a tree? This is the plant for you – and it will perform well there – but we suggest you also plant one near to the house. So you will be rewarded with its heady perfume when you venture out on a chilly winter morning to inspect your garden…
We hope you enjoy our Shrubs for A White Garden selection and remember our expert team at Paramount Plants are on-hand if you need any advice – please get in touch!