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

Apr22

Topiary Provocation Spring 2021

organic topiary snow

Topiary Provocation? What is this about? Topiary Provocation, Darren Lerigo, Spring 2021 This spring of 2021 I invited a number of garden designers to a series of meetings via Zoom, to discuss how topiary can be used effectively in modern gardens. I wanted to discover how both clients and designers felt about topiary, whether it was a part of the garden that got as much thought as, say, the choice of stone for a patio…. and if certain plants and shapes tended to trend in designs or if it truly was a mish-mash of different topiary styles. The provocation and talks …

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Apr22

Waltham Place Talk – Watch On Youtube

waltham place talk

Waltham Place in Maidenhead is one of my favourite gardens of all time. The philosophy is to garden with nature, rather than against, so improving the soil and growing a diverse range of plants is placed at the heart of how to manage the space.   Through the European Boxwood and Topiary Society I arranged a talk by the garden team at Waltham Place. It has been recorded and put on Youtube so if you missed it live, you can watch it there and get a feel for what they are doing. There are some extraordinary photos of the garden …

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Mar15

Topiary Provocation For Garden Designers

snow topiary

I am running a ‘Topiary Provocation’ for garden designers, via Zoom, over the next few weeks. Dates are: Tuesday 23rd March, 10am Wednesday 24th March 7.30pm Thursday 8th April, 7.30pm The ‘provocation’ is for garden designers anywhere in the world, is free to join and will last about 45 minutes. Places are limited to 12 per session, as I want to make sure we can share ideas about topiary and how it can be used (and managed) in a modern garden – especially if skill level and maintenance time is low. I hope that I can provoke a discussion around …

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