Sunday, January 26, 2014

Too Much White?

Still so cold, single digits every night, chilly 20s in the daytime, even when the sun shines. For days now.

As I sit indoors going over photos and plants from last season, it occurs to me that the majority of flowering trees and shrubs around the gravel garden have white blooms. White blooms are a common color for woody plants, but I did not plan that.

The star magnolia starts it all in late March.

Then the fothergillas bloom in late April and into early May.

Then the pretty deutzias take over from mid May to June 1st.  The blackhaw viburnum against the house blooms white in mid May, although so far it is not very profuse. At the same time as the deutzias, the styrax across the garden blooms, also very frilly and pretty from mid May to the first week of June.

The sourwood starts blooming in June and goes all summer. The little flowers are subtle and more noticed for their effect against the fall foliage than for their whiteness.

The stewartia blooms from mid June to the start of July, but so far it is sparse, and the little flowers are hard to see.  At the same time the New Jersey Tea below it is in full creamy white flower.

And of course the 'Tardiva' hydrangea that anchors the end of the gravel garden is showy white in late summer.

There is also the simple fact that the gravel is shades of white and gray, and that is the visual center of the garden.

Is that too much white all season long?

It is broken up by the brief blooming of the intensely red buckeye in mid May when the deutzias and styrax are blooming -- that's a nice combination. I have been debating whether the buckeye fits in that spot, but now that I think about flowering, I'd like to keep it for contrast in spring.

And orange butterfly weed at the end of the garden adds color. The most contrast, though, comes from annuals and pots that I put in the gravel garden in summer.

In fall the area is ringed by brilliant foliage colors from the paperbark maple, the smokebush, the stewartia and the sourwood. The fothergillas are bright and the longer view from the trees around the yard is intense too. Purple asters and soft pink mums add zing. In fall this is a colorful garden.

But as spring unfolds this year I need to pay special attention to the symphony of white blooms that plays out from April to summer all around the gravel garden. Especially as the new plants mature and there is more of it.

I don't think it will be too much white. The effects are subtle, the blooming goes on from early spring through summer, and there is a lot of hardscape, chairs, annuals and busyness going on here. So much white may actually be calming for this crowded area.

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