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White and green bed design

MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

hi, I've cleared a bed and  not sure how to get the look I want. My natural inclination is towards cottage style gardens, lots of fuss, lots of flowers. This theme needs to be a little more contemporary and hopefully I can pull of a minimal style to go with the new weaved willows, black decking and outdoor furniture. photos to follow.

Clay based soil but not too heavy, full sun. 16' x 4'.

Existing plants on the arch - white jasmine, honeysuckle, and pale pink rose on the other side of the path (may move this as not keen on the colour with this scheme).

So far, spring is as far as I've got. white daffodils to fill the area, probably with other white bulbs to prolong interest. I want to keep to a mainly white theme with lush green foliage with dots of blue by keeping the existing blue love in a mist under the arch, perhaps with blue cornflower to tie it together. 

I need ideas for 'form' and shape please.

I think three plants, either side of the arch and in the middle alongside the arch.

Ferns would be a  look I'm after but the site is too sunny, and I'd prefer something to see in the winter. Something neat and tidy. Any ideas please for similar but workable plants??

A standard or tallish plant in the spot furthest from the decking would be in keeping, so any suggestions??

Last edited: 17 September 2017 09:17:32



  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,651

    There are a number of ferns that do OK in sun, actually - most of the native types for example and dryopteris if there's a bit of shade for it's feet. Some are evergreen. I wouldn't rule them out, certainly.

    There are lots and lots of euphorbia, some of which get huge (robbiae, wulfenii) - probably too big for that spot - but some, like 'polychroma' (Euphorbia epithymoides) are better behaved and give excellent winter structure and spring colour. There's a lot of fuss about them being poisonous and they are - even Monty Don wears gloves when cutting them - but there are plenty of other equally poisonous plants that attract less hysteria. 

    There are a couple of really nice lime/white kniphofia - 'ice queen' for example, or 'green jade' which would give late summer height and interest. 

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

    Thanks raisingirl. I think the knifophia will be quite good, I've just had a look and have seen Percy's Pride on crocus which looks nice and definately in keeping with the theme.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,115

    Hi MrsG - I use green and white,  and evergreens, as a permanent backdrop in almost all my beds. Different shapes of foliage and height etc to give contrast, but keeping the colour palette simple gives unity in a small space - that's really important.

    Lots of bulbs - plenty to choose from as you've seen,  and you  could add alliums for summer - they would work with the knifophias for height in the centre, without too much width.  My accent colour is mainly reddish purples, so that's easy, but alliums come in white too. Pasqueflowers come in white, for mid/late spring, and they have lovely seedheads.Those half hardy Acidantheras would also be goodfor late summmer. They have dark reddish/purple inners, but are essentially white. There's a white, tallish Veronica too.

    My biggest raised bed, which faces south west, is probably smaller than yours, but I have plenty of structure for all year round interest. Hebes and Phormiums will work well for your aspect. Evergreen 'grasses' like Carex 'evergold' will be fine there. I use Euonymous too. Hart's Tongue ferns would probably be fine. Forget it's proper name - Asplenium something or other. I have a prostrate white Phlox too - good for edging. 

    Hellebores and drumstick primulas would be fine there for spring, if you have enough moisture, and you can use bigger specimens to give some shade over summer if needed. There are white ones in both of those. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

    Thanks fairygirl, I love the way you put your garden together. I lke the idea of knifophia, alliums, primulas, lily Madonna, polythingy fern, but now need leaf shape and height as you say to bring it together.

    harts tongue scorches in my garden, and acidanthera turned an ugly purple after the first year! Would the prostrate phlox be a good ground cover?

    The bed, you may remember was originally the feather bed or grass bed, I still have hodeum jubatum which I'd like to use, but generally found I had to dig the whole stupa out as I couldn't do the 'combing' successfully!

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,115

    Ooh - forgot about lilies - I added some of those this year too!

    Liatris comes in white - that would be another good vertical.

    The phlox looks like this. I have it in that bed and this one is on the back fence (window box) It covers about a foot each direction, roughly, but not sure if it'll get any bigger than that. 


    Pity about the Hart's Tongue fern. Good for evergreen cover. I have to lift the Acidantheras or treat as annuals, so haven't experienced the colour change! I've got a couple that have re-appeared this year - I presume because we had a drier, frostier winter. They usually just rot. Nowhere near flowering though - been too cold here  I think. 

    I'd get the structural, evergreen stuff in first. Easier to plan your perennials etc round that. Would you consider a bit of topiary - like a box cone or a yew column, or something like that?  I use the ball shaped Hebes for that - no clipping and shaping required  image 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,237

    I would start out with some box balls to punctuate the ends of the bed and add year round structure. Eupborbias as FG suggests, maybe E. x martinii if you want something smaller (but I'd go with E. wulfenii and replace with self sown seedlings if it starts getting too big). I'd be cautious about Kniphofia in a small, prominent bed. I love them but they can look a bit tatty and I think they're best surrounded by other planting - the pictures you see online don't show them when they've started to fade and die back... that's also why I'm cautious about Hemerocallis. 

    Wrong colour, but I like Geranium 'Rozanne' in spots like this; it flowers non stop and you can refresh it by hacking it back whenever it's getting too big or looking tired, and it will flower again from a fresh start. Alchemilla can be treated the same sort of way, although you get fresh foliage but not necessarily flowers. The shrubby salvias are great as well (although clay soil isn't ideal). Most are purple but a few have a greenish yellow colour, like 'Sungold'.

    I want to add late season greenish colour to my blue bed, and am thinking of trying Nicotiana langsdorfii for that purpose next year. I am getting into the idea of including more annuals, as a lot of them have very long flowering periods... and it's fun to raise them.

  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

    Thanks Wildb, a good point about knifophia, would it be ok surrounded by the evergreen sun ok fern (polydon may be it's name)?. I think I have a white geranium, it's small and doesn't do well. Alchemical is way too invasive for me, hate the stuff! but thanks anyway x. Salvias definately , I keep coming back to my all time favour 'hot lips' I know it's not in the colour sheme but I just love it and it keeps quite a tidy shape, flowers forever. Annuals are worth their salt but I'm like you and forget their value.

    Fairygirl, I'll be back in a bit.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,237

    Oh, since you mentioned grasses - Luzula nivea is worth considering; really nice white airy flowers in spring. They go beige by midsummer but you can cut them off and just enjoy the hairy foliage. Or leave them on if you don't mind them. Don't want to bombard you with suggestions as it's a small bed that you'll probably want to keep simple... but I can't help it!

  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

    WILLBD, exactly my problem! In my heart I just know this simple contempory bed will be full on cottage!

    FG  - lovely phlox, but you're right, one step at a time.

    whitw guarantee, Liatris and phlox were originally bought for this bed but I decided it would be too fussy so they are now opposite with the lilacs.

    Topiary and box certainly considered.

    Ive just seen a sea holly that needs a new place and would love to use that, but it's so slow to get going!

    So a short list -

    bulbs - White daffodils, alliums and other as they take my fancy.

    summer - salvia hot lips, lily Madonna, sea holly, loveinamis, cornflowers, possibly  knifophia.

    evergreen - fern, box, have also got Tom Thumb,

    shape and form - as evergreen?

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