Garden Guru: The color white makes for a moonlit garden that's enchanting and magical

·3 min read
No matter the area of the landscape, porch, patio and deck, include the color white for its reflective nature. Here, Superbena Whiteout is paired with Superbena Sparkling Rose, verbena.
No matter the area of the landscape, porch, patio and deck, include the color white for its reflective nature. Here, Superbena Whiteout is paired with Superbena Sparkling Rose, verbena.

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.

Use white flowers along the edge, border or pathway to allow its reflective capacities to give definition at night. Here Diamond Snow euphorbia is used along the outside border with red begonias.
Use white flowers along the edge, border or pathway to allow its reflective capacities to give definition at night. Here Diamond Snow euphorbia is used along the outside border with red begonias.

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.

More from the Garden Guru: The greenhouse pot has become an ecological marvel

In the landscape hydrangeas rule like royalty varieties of native oakleaf like Gatsby Gal, Gatsby Moon and are always guaranteed to catch your attention even on a moonlit night.
In the landscape hydrangeas rule like royalty varieties of native oakleaf like Gatsby Gal, Gatsby Moon and are always guaranteed to catch your attention even on a moonlit night.

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.

This time of the year landscapes all across the county are showing out with Hydrangea paniculata varieties like Limelight and this new Limelight Prime that offers showy visibility all day and night.
This time of the year landscapes all across the county are showing out with Hydrangea paniculata varieties like Limelight and this new Limelight Prime that offers showy visibility all day and night.

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.

Varieties of native Virginia Sweetspire like Little Henry, Scentlandia and this year’s new Fizzy Mizzy not only offer white during the day, the night but also an incredible fragrance that all will remember.
Varieties of native Virginia Sweetspire like Little Henry, Scentlandia and this year’s new Fizzy Mizzy not only offer white during the day, the night but also an incredible fragrance that all will remember.

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.

More from the Garden Guru: Rush for Blue Mohawk to be your container’s thriller plant

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.

No shrub offers more fragrance and beauty than the summersweet or clethra, varieties with names like Vanilla Spice and Sugartina Crystalina say it all, promising memories for your children.
No shrub offers more fragrance and beauty than the summersweet or clethra, varieties with names like Vanilla Spice and Sugartina Crystalina say it all, promising memories for your children.

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