Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy.” See more columns by Norman at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/.
Each year as my color design guru son James orders plants for use at his client’s homes, from those that look like historic cottages to palatial garden estates, those on the waterfront to those considered mountainous. The one color that I can be guaranteed that will be in heavy use is white.
When spring arrives every year with all of its glorious colors - purples, pinks, yellows and reds, the color guaranteed to catch your eye every time is white. Of course, a scientist would most likely say white is not a color, it absorbs no other color or wavelength and is pure.
Pure and unspoiled goes in hand with the bride wearing a white dress, or the nurse wearing a white uniform. It’s like the morning you wake and see the pure white snow on the ground that hasn’t been violated in any way.
Mother Nature does this in the spring forest. The dogwoods seem to glow with their blooms, attracting our attention to the glistening, reflective bracts in an otherwise simple forest of green.
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White Flowers say planning and precision
White flowers like this year’s new Soprano impatiens not only give definition to those shadier areas of the landscape but also offer a sense of cleanliness and purity. They also give a feeling of planning and precision. In other words, the gardener knew what they were doing by carefully planting white.
When possible, use white bedding plants like Supertunia Vista Silverberry, Supertunia Vista Snowdrift or Supertunia Mini Vista White at the front of the border, along sidewalks or trails to define where the walkway begins. This makes the nighttime stroll in the garden come alive.
Out in the landscape proper, the hydrangeas rule like royalty whether they be varieties of the native Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia), the native smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) or the Pee Gees (Hydrangea paniculata). Could there be a reason they named it Limelight?
Give a vertical dimension with climbers and tumblers
Since white is the last color to disappear as the sun sets in the evening. If it is a moonlight night then they will reflect this light all night. Use flowering vines like the Proven Winners new Thunbergia, Coconut A-Peel, or the topical Bombshell White mandevilla to add nighttime interest as they give a vertical element by climbing Victorian style tower or trellis. This year’s new Fairytrail Bride, the first cascading hydrangea, can turn an urn into a living piece of statuary in the moonlit garden.
While ‘The Garden Guy’ loves hot orange, red and salmon, if you walked onto my patio tonight the Superbena Whiteout verbenas would be seen tumbling over the rims of containers and cascading over the rock wall in the distance. This is a verbena for all time, offering vigor and large flowers glistening in the moonlight.
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Making the moonlit garden magical
The moonlit garden can be incredibly magical with the addition of shrubs with white fragrant flowers. This will be the place where childhood memories are made. Memories of mom and dad and how life was, back then.
Proven Winners has introduced the Illuminati series of fragrant Mock Oranges which will have three varieties with the addition of the new Illuminati Sparks in 2023. Then there are the native Clethera or summersweet, like Vanilla Spice and Sugartina Crystalina, that by the mere mention of their name says olfactory experience.
The shrub that everyone has been talking about, however, is Fizzy Mizzy, a compact fragrant native Virginia sweetspire making its debut this year.
The moonlit garden is enchanting and magical, it just takes a little planning as the prerequisite is the color white. Every aspect of the landscape can have white included. Here is hoping you will give it a try.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Some of the best white flowers and plants for your garden