February 6, 2015

SISSINGHURST White Garden in Oklahoma


Winter, not spring, is when most gardens set seed. In our fertile imaginings, on scraps of paper, in muddy journals and new garden catalogs. As I write this it is cold outside... 39 degrees. I have a heating pad in my lap because I am always cold sitting at my desk in winter...without the excuse of a warm sun and garden-tending to draw me away from the keyboard.


Despite the cold, I have little seedlings of ideas and horticultural intentions taking root in my fantasies  for this year's garden, inspired a great deal by reading SISSINGHURST, Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden while simultaneously looking at images of her gardens and others in the coffee table book ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE GARDENS.




Both have me studying and lusting after one of the most famous of ALL gardens, the

SISSINGHURST White Garden, a garden space entirely dedicated to the color white...or more accurately, white, gray and green.

This leads me to looking back on and

thinking about my own White Garden or, rather SECTION of a White Garden, that has slowly been evolving and expanding over the years....

(planted of course with an Oklahoma accent...
and a mindfulness to the challenges of trying to recreate and transplant a gardening concept from gentle England to our often harsh, schizophrenic climate.)

I have added to the number of white flowering shrubs....


the lovely and delicate deutzia being the firstborn as it were of my family of pale bloomers.




Not long after introducing this romantic shrub to an edge of shade location under an old tree, I planted



the DAVID AUSTIN ROSE 'Fair Bianca', a lovely, rather shy, companion...but they do get along beautifully.  I so appreciate how long blooming the deutzia is....holding on to court the roses,


after keeping company with the white 'Maureen' tulip chalices, bell shaped blossoms of variegated Solomon's Seal, and


heavenly scented-heavy headed clumps of white hyacinths earlier in the season.  I added the white hyacinth element to the area for the first time last year and


two springs ago I added the now large and dramatic Chinese Snowball Viburnum to the white spring flora scape.



The white theme for this area extends into early summer with the pendulous flowers of the Oak Leaf


hydrangeas to the north of my garden bench...followed by frothy white blooms of 'Annabelle' hydrangeas flanking the bench to the South.  My methodology has been to layer on more and more shades and shapes of white - with bulbs, perennials, annuals, shrubs, vines - carefully selected to coincide and or overlap in bloom to keep the theme going.


In the dead heat of mid summer, all the white begins to fade in both vigor and color. White in the garden has a hard time standing up to the white heat of an Oklahoma summer, at least in my experience...going underground, so to speak, until temps cool again in the fall, (and when I sometimes enjoy a smaller second flush of white from the rose and viburnum).  Consequently, most


of my recent layers and additions of white have been selected for early spring, spring, early summer and fall. This year I am anxious to add yet more layers/variety/complexity to to this mono-colored planting scheme. No surprise,  I have several ideas in mind. Good thing too, as I have promised to host a wedding shower in the garden at the height of this white parade. And trust me. 

 In my imagination


it is all just perfect.

 Next post?  Five more plants I will be adding to this white tableau.  Any guesses or suggestions?


For more information on planning and planting a color themed garden, join me and LC today at 4:30 on FOUR YOUR GARDEN on Newschannel4.




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