By Bonnie Manion
Sometimes a white garden is the hardest to create. I created a white garden that blooms white at different times of the year. The first photo is in spring.
In March a backdrop of Matilija poppy (Romneya coulter) foliage has grown tall along a wood fence, but the plants will not bloom until May. What does bloom in springtime is pure-white Nemesia and figwort (Scrophularia), surrounding a vintage garden baby fountain. Nemesia prefers cool weather and is ever-blooming. It is very easy to grow. When it starts getting a little leggy and spent, clip it back to about 4 inches high, and it will grow back beautifully. White daffodils create an elegant addition. In the right-hand corner a white perennial geranium (or cranesbill) is about to bloom.
In May, Matilija poppy is now blooming along with the white Nemesia and white geranium. Matilija poppy is native to the coastal mountains and valleys of Southern California. The plants are quite striking, with their large, white crepe blooms. Matilija poppies can sometimes be hard to start in a garden but can be invasive once established. Keep them trimmed back over the summer.
Another great addition to my white garden is the perennial Shasta daisy. This bushy, compact upright plant ranges in height from 1 to 3 feet. It does well in full sun to partial shade. Shasta daisy blooms summer to fall, especially if you deadhead spent blooms. Its dark-green foliage complements the other green foliage colors.
Another of my favorite combos is combining edibles with flowers, or the French art of the potager (kitchen garden). Here is a photo in early summer showing spring artichoke blooming into purple thistle. ‘Crimson King’ iris blooms at the base of the focal bay laurel tree (Laurus nobilis).
At the north end of the potager is perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius), a perennial sweet pea that returns year after year.
I also plant my potager with eggplant, leeks, strawberries, squash, Swiss chard and tomatoes. Combining vegetables and flowers together is not just for aesthetics. Flowers help edibles with pest control and companion planting. For more information about using edibles and ornamentals together, two great resources are Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy, and The Edible Front Yard by Ivette Soler.
In Southern California sometimes some of our best weather occurs in December. When we have winter rains coupled with mild, sunny weather, my garden provides one of my favorite bouquets.
This bouquet comes together in a winning combination, from all parts of my garden. Featured in my winter bouquet is ‘Sweet Valentine’ rose and ‘Casablanca’ Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria), which is almost pure white and can be a ready-made bouquet on its own. Last is the old-fashioned bearded purple iris ‘Crimson King’. This Iris is a rebloomer, about 2 feet tall, and striking in a winter bouquet or massed outdoors.