The White Garden

Or as I like to call it “The Lesson of the White Garden”.  I saw a garden show years back that talked about a white garden.  The concept was intriguing.  Every bloom had to be white.  Not an easy task as I was to find out.  So when we started our last garden (I call it the Purple Door Garden) at the new house, I was determined to create a white garden.  I planned it so carefully.  It would be alongside the gazebo so I could gaze upon it in the bright glow of the moon.  All the white blossoms would shimmer.

So to market (online of course) I went to find all flowers that were white.  And of course they had to be shade, part shade and 3 seasons.  That meant finding all sizes of bulbs from early to late spring and perennials in all shapes and sizes that bloomed white.  I also needed perennials that had interesting leave variegation and color so onto the hostas that bloomed white and heucheras (coral bells).  Let’s not forget shrubs and climbing vines that also bloomed in white profusion.  You would be surprised how many plants boast of white blooms.  

So we started to plant.  The first year I was so excited to see the white blossoms peeking out all spring and into early summer.  I would gaze upon my white garden from windows in the back of the house.  So lovely and I couldn’t wait to see the new, clean, beautiful white flowers…but what’s this…that’s not white….what is that strange color in my white garden…ughhh a non-white flower has moved into my white garden.  I raced out of the house and there it was.  It was true, a California red poppy had found its way (from the meadow via my gardening shoes) into my white garden.  What to do.  I can’t rip it out.  Well I could but it might die and I can’t knowingly contribute to the destruction of an innocent plant that didn’t mean any harm.  So I left it.  After all it was an annual in our zone.  I could ignore it, but could I.  All summer when I looked at the white garden, all I could see was that red poppy.  Oh it was lovely but not in my white garden.  Thankfully fall came and the poppy was gone.  I would be careful next year so that I would not contaminate my white garden.

So it’s year 2 and of course, I had to add to the white garden.  There were not enough bulbs blooming all spring and I needed more perennials that bloomed at different times of the spring and summer.  So I shopped, planted and waited.  The garden was even more beautiful.  Lovely white flowers filling in all season.  Lots of hard to find specialty plants.  And as I was looking around the garden one day in early summer, I suddenly stood there in horror.  It couldn’t be.  Not again.  No this was too much.  Right smack in the middle of all that white was the most gorgeous deep pink foxglove I had ever grown.  Tall and full with about 6 spikes of flowers.  I have never seen a more beautiful young foxglove.  But I bought a white foxglove.  I planted a white foxglove, didn’t I?  So now what.  If I move it the flowers will die.  It’s July for God’s sake.  So once again I have to just leave it.  Every time I looked at the white garden all I could was that deep pink.  Everyone who came to visit saw that pink and I wanted them to see the white garden.  Of course they think it is beautiful and it is, but it is not white.  And it MUST be white mustn’t it? Well I can move it in the fall.  I could hang on until fall.

Well it is this year, 2010.  No pink foxglove.  Careful planting of new white flowers.  This will be my year of white.  And what a spectacular spring with white flowering bulbs everywhere.  White flowering, shrubs, vines, perennials.  It has really grown in and established itself.  But wouldn’t it be ironic.  Two years running and something has moved in to the white garden so why not this year.  Of course something non-white is going to grow in the white garden.  It is never going to be be all white.  That just isn’t nature.  And actually I think I am looking forward to seeing what the surprise grower will be.  It is almost a game at this point. 

Once again it is summer and there is something that looks out of place in the middle of the white garden.  Not sure but..yes it is a sunflower.  You can’t miss the leaves and long stalk.  Flower heads just forming.  But how?  Who knows…the squirrels, the voles who destroyed all the other sunflowers I planted but one and that one just fell over in a storm.  And I love sunflowers.  So this is it.  My one and only sunflower of the season and it is in the middle of my white garden.  So I wait for the big, beautiful sunny yellow flower head to pop out in all its glory.  You can see it above.  This year I decided to document the grand event.  Why not.  Who would believe it? 

You know they say that sometimes on the way to your dream you get lost and find a better one.  And so it is with my white garden.   I have accepted the fact that the white garden will not always be white.  I really am OK with it.  I actually am looking forward to next year.  What a surprise it will be to see what nature has in store for the white garden.  I think now I would be disappointed if it was just white.  But I guess I would accept that too.  It is not that the garden is white that makes it beautiful.  It is the garden itself.  The totality of the flowers.  The absolute glory and power of the color against that backdrop of white.  In being able to accept that different color, I have finally witnessed the real beauty of the white garden.