Question: I’d like to put it an all-white garden near my patio. Do you have any tips for the design?
Answer: If you do a lot of relaxing, dining or entertaining on your patio in the evenings, a white garden is a fabulous choice. White flowers and foliage will show up better than any other color at dusk, and they create a restful, romantic and pleasantly eerie mood.
Here are the major things to remember when choosing and placing plants for your white garden:
White isn’t always white. A “white” flower may contain traces of cream, pale pink or blue, which will become much more noticeable when it is placed next to a truly pure white flower. To keep all whites looking their best, use green or silver foliage plants between the “off” whites and the pure whites. Traces of other colors within the white will be most apparent during the day.
Create contrast with form, size and foliage. Your white garden will lack the interest that comes from different colored flowers playing off one another. Be sure to use plants of different shapes and sizes, different flower forms and foliage in different shades of green, blue and silver to add depth and character.
Make sure there is a strong background behind the garden. A deep green hedge is perfect for setting off white flowers. A dark-painted wall or fence will also do the trick. Avoid pale or (obviously) white backgrounds, into which the white flowers would fade.
Shown: Phlox paniculata ‘David’, a pure-white border phlox. Image courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder. (Click the link to read PlantFinder info on growing ‘David’ phlox.)