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White, the Fifth Primary

Although pure white is rare in nature there are many so-called whites among flowers, which upon examination turn out to be tints of yellow, blue, or green, so pale they can hardly be so designated. Always try to determine what sort of white—bluish, greenish, or yellowish—a flower is before adding it to a combination. Then use it with stronger hues of the same color, or as a contrast with its compliments. Phlox Miss Lingard and Iberis sempervirens are about the whitest whites you will find.

plate 23a
Plate 23a. A Group of White Flowers for Early Summer
1. Delphinium Sir Galahad 5. Astilbe White Gloria
2. Thermopsis caroliniana 6. Campanula medium white
3. Phlox Miss Lingard 7. Astilbe Deutschland
4. Monarda didyma Cambridge Scarlet  

You might think white would be the simplest of colors to use in the garden, yet this is not the case. White, improperly placed, or in poor proportion causes unsatisfactory compositions. It has been frequently suggested that white be used as a foil for strong colors, as a peacemaker between warring elements, and that it can be used indiscriminately. Such treatment destroys the unity of a scheme and produces a nervous, spotty garden. Harmony of color may have been maintained but at the expense of quietness. (Plate 23a.)

Bold masses of white produce a beauty and dignity hard to surpass. Cunningly interspersed with strong colors, white softens them; used among weaker tints, it strengthens. Strong whites should always be used with strong hues so that they may be in balance; the violence of contrasts is softened by its introduction. If the "vulgar" yellow of coreopsis is used with the white Phlox Miss Lingard, it is no problem. White also pacifies the difficult blue-reds, magenta, true purple, andviolets. When strong contrast is needed, however, do not introduce white, for it will drain away strength. For example, delphinium and orange lilies do not need Phlox Miss Lingard. They are better alone. The contrast is stronger. If you feel it is too strong, reduce the size of the group.

plate 23b
Plate 23b. A Composition with White Dominant
1. Sweet alyssum 7. Lilium madonna
2. Ageratum Blue Cap 8. Dianthus barbatus Newport Pink Majestic
3. Chrysanthemum maximum  9. Buddleia Peace
4. Linum perenne 10. Anchusa italica Dropmore
5. Phlox Miss Lingard 11. Phlox Mrs. Flanders
6. Baptisia australis  

One of the most interesting and exciting gardens we have seen is planted after the Russian manner that Bakst used so effectively in stage settings. Basically it is a white garden from early spring until late fall, but strong color is introduced at certain places to give violent contrast, create sequence, balance, and climax. There are no tender shades or pastels colors here, only median hues set among a wide range of whites in front of interesting green foilage of varying texture.

It is the luminosity of white that makes it so pleasing in the garden. In semi-shade it appears deeper and even stronger, yet at the same time it lightens the area considerably. White is important in all plantings enjoyed in the evening for it is one of the few colors that remain visible. Most white flowers also have an evening fragrance. A garden comes to mind with white petunias in the foreground and groups of nicotiana in the middleground. These give a sense of shape and form— and perfume—to the pattern in the half light of dusk or moonlight. (Plate 23b.)




Aquilegia flabellata nana alba
Arabis alpina Double
Aster alpinus alba
Bellis perennis Snowball
Campanula carpatica alba
Iris pumila Olive White
Viola cornuta White Perfection


Anemone magellica
Anthericum ramosum
Aquilegia White Queen
Iris germanica Arctic
Mt. Cloud
Snow Flurry
Paeonia officinalis Belle Chinoise
Festiva Maxima
Isani Gidui
Le Cygne
suffruticosa Byou de Chusan


Chinodoxa luciliae alba
Crocus vernus Blizzard
Galanthus nivalis
Hyacinth L'Innocence
Leucojum aestivum
Muscari botryoides album
Narcissus Brookville
Early Perfection
La Argentina
Scilla alba
hispanica alba maxima
White Trumpet
Tulip Annie Speelman
Ivory Glory
Mrs. Grullemans


Amelanchier canadensis
Aronia arbutifolia
Azalea ledifolia alba
Cornus florida
Crataegus intricata (coccinea)
oxyacantha Double White
Exochorda racemosa (grandiflora)
Halesia Carolina (tetraptera)
Lonicera bella White (albida)
Malus sargenti
Oxydendrum arboreum
Philadelphus Atlas
Primus tomentosum
Spirea mongolica
Syringa La Vestale
Miss Ellen Willmott
Vibrunum in variety



Dianthus caryophyllus White Shades
latifolius Silvermine
plumarius Her Majesty
Filipendula hexapetala Double (Astilbe)
Iberis sempervirens Little Gem
Stokesia laevis White
Tradescantia Iris Pritchard


Astilbe Deutschland
White Gloria
Campanula medium
persicifolia grand. alba
White Pearl
Chrysanthemum maximum Alaska
Mt. Shasta
Cimicifuga simplex
Delphinium grandiflorum chinense album
Dianthus barbatus Suttons Giant White
Dictamnus albus (fraxinella)
Echinacea purpurea White Lustre
Gypsophila paniculata Double
repens Bodger
viscosa Bristolfairy
Iris kaempferi Carlton Childs
Gold Bound
siberica Snowcrest
Snow Queen
Hosta plantaginea (subcordata)
Lupinus polyphyllus albus
Lychnis chalcedonica alba
Matricaria Silver Ball
Monarda didyma alba
Oenothera speciosa
Papaver orientale Perrys White
Phlox Miss Lingard
Mary Louise
Platycodon grandiflorum White
Rudbeckia (see Echinacea)
Thalictrum minus Maidenhair
Verbascum Miss Willmott
Veronica spicata alba


Althea rosea White
Aruncus Sylvester
Astilbe Prof. Van der Wielen
Campanula pyramidalis
Delphinium hybrids Galahad Series
Digitalis purpurea alba
Iris ochroleuca gigantea
Liatris scariosa White Spire
Lilium auratum
speciosum alba
various hybrids
Phlox Financee
Mia Ruys
Mrs. Flanders
Van Lassburg


Abelia chinensis
Azalea viscosa
Chionanthus virginicus
Clethra alnifolia
Deutzia scabra
Hibiscus syriacus Jeanne d'Arc
Rosa multiflora
Stewartia pseudocamellia (small tree)



Aster Niobe
Chrysanthemum arcticum Astride
White Cushion


Anemone japonica alba
Marie Manchard
Aster Oregon Snowbank
Chrysanthemum Avalanche
Chris Columbus
Polar Ice
White Cactus
White Lady


Artemisia lactiflora
Aster novae-angliae Mr. Rainier
novibelgi Mr. Everest
Boltonia asteroides
Hibiscus palustris alba (moscheutos)


Buddleia Peace
White Profusion


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