THE MODERN MINT BLOG

May23

White Garden Plants

White Garden at Furzelea, Essex
White Garden at Furzelea, Essex

We have often been cited Sissinghurst and its White Garden as the ideal look a client wants.

It is easy to see why this is – being easy on the eye, having plants people can recognise and encapsulating a fullness, a romantic notion, that can be easily described by clients who may otherwise struggle to express themselves.

Originally the concept for Vita Sackville-West’s white garden was for it to be a ‘Grey’ garden…

“I am trying to make a grey, green, and white garden… I visualize the white trumpets of dozens of Regale lilies, grown three years ago from seed, coming up through the grey of southernwood and artemisia and cotton-lavender, with grey-and-white edging plants such as Dianthus Mrs. Sinkins and the silvery mats of Stachys Lanata, more familiar and so much nicer under its English names of Rabbits’ Ears or Saviour’s Flannel. There will be white pansies, and white peonies, and white irises with their grey leaves… at least, I hope there will be all these things. I don’t want to boost in advance about my grey, green and white garden. It may be a terrible failure. I wanted only to suggest that such experiments are worth trying, and that you can adapt them to your own taste and your own opportunities.

All the same, I cannot help hoping that the great ghostly barn-owl will sweep silently across a pale garden, next summer, in the twilight – the pale garden that I am now planting, under the first flakes of snow.”

Vita was right – such experiments are worth trying. But a white garden nowadays is not an experiment, it is an ideal or a fashion statement a garden designer is expected to achieve.

So what can be used? We found this list of plants from a Gardens Illustrated article as a starting point to move you in the right direction…

Spring:

Tulips

Cardoon

Sweet Rocket

Summer:

Foxtail lilly

Nigella

Argentine forget-me-not

Lychnis

Orlaya

Borage

Allium

Mullein

Sidalcea

Ammi

Foxglove

Gaura

Onopordum

Eryngium

Rose-bay willowherb

Meadow Rue

Sium

Veronicastrum

Browallia

Spider flower

Solanum

Aster

Penstemon

Cosmos

Erigeron

Sweet peas

Eucomis

Hydrangea

Petunia

Romneya

For examples of a good white garden you could visit Furzelea, or Ulting Wick…

But what we encourage most, if you are inspired by Vita, is not to try and reproduce a white garden – but take the spirit in which it was made – an experiment worth trying. And adapt it to your own taste and needs.

Recommended Reading:

Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst: The Creation of a Garden

Planting Schemes from Sissinghurst: Classic Garden Inspirations

Rosemary Verey: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener

… and as an antidote to all that white and pastel…

Colour for Adventurous Gardeners

The Bold and Brilliant Garden

Jun10

Brought By Bike – Topiary Making

Brought By Bike is an excellent website I found last month, where businesses offer their services by (of course) bicycle. Modern Mint and my topiary work is now live on the site offering my topiary services, via bike, to the following two postcodes – CM1 CM2 Now I can imagine I will need to borrow a ladder should anyone have a larger shrub, but most town gardens in the Chelmsford area have a need not just for privacy but to let light into the house… so a balance must be struck when shaping hedges and shrubs to cover both needs. …

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May10

Transforming Topiary

topiary transforming

Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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