Waking Up to White

Sometimes I seem to be sleepwalking when planning the garden. For example, how could I not have noticed this build-up of white-flowering

White valerian, agrostemma, diascia, Geranium maderense, arctotis, gaura, foxgloves.

True, it surprised me this morning doing a tally, but I know it’s really not so much a choice as just an avoidance of the pink varieties of these plants.

I find a lot of my color choices are arrived at in just such an oblique fashion, more out of avoidance than preference. In a small garden
such as mine, color selection will involve a lot of compromise, what you can get away with, what your zone and soil and proximity to other colors
will actually allow. Far better to worry over shape, volume, movement and, in such a long growing season, leaves.

But for summer, for now, it’s still about flowers. First and foremost, it’s about finding your indispensable flowering plants. In my zone 10 garden,
the crocosmias, coreopsis, verbascums, alstroemerias, kniphofias and gaillardias are indispensable for summer, and these plants are predominantly
orange and yellow, hence the avoidance-of-pink strategy.

I am well aware that this runs counter to many other gardeners’ approach, that many actually practice an avoidance-of-orange
strategy(!) There might be a bit of orange avoidance in my dim past as well. But truth be told, there simply aren’t any pink-blooming plants
that are as worthwhile in my garden. For example, those stalwarts of summer borders, echinaceas, don’t perform well here, and spring does not
arrive in a delicate pink haze of dogwoods, spiraeas, dicentra, weigelas, deutzias or what have you. Zone 10 likes its colors hot.

The strong magentas I don’t mind as much with orange and yellow, but never a soft pink. And I’m not entirely sure I could do without the
mule kick magenta gives anyway. So is that the real reason why I’ve resolved not to mind the clash with orange?

I”m not sure I want to probe that bias any further. Because your own garden is the one place to flaunt your bias, isn’t it?
Especially when truly hideous mistakes can be buried before the year’s out. But I have no quarrel with colors matched in saturation, such as
strong oranges with deep pinks. And deep blue, purple, burgundy, chartreuse, gold — all to my eye are happy with orange and yellow.

The inclusion of the robust Waverly salvia in the garden is on again/off again as I experiment with other salvias, but for amount of
bloom there really is none better, and this year there are two big clumps. More white. And there’s the Orlaya grandiflora
I’ve been writing so much about, an annual umbellifer beloved for it’s small stature and long bloom season. More white again.
So all in all, that adds up to a lot of white.


Add in the three Buddleia ‘Silver Anniversaries’ I’ve dotted through the border, which bloom in, of course, white,
and it’s going to be a chilly garden this year. Even though unplanned for, it’s kind of exciting to contemplate.
Heck, every spring is exciting to contemplate.

And even with all this white, there’s lots of color. For example, the dusky bracts on the Waverly salvias
blooming amongst potted agaves.


And as for pink, I like it strong anyway, such as the vivid pink in Salvia chiapensis, shown below obscuring Evie’s pretty face.


This is one of the best sages for me, and I wouldn’t be without it, no matter what its color.


But it’s going to be difficult keeping track of Evie this summer with all that white.

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