How white flowers can brighten up any summer garden

White flowers can add a point of interest to any summer garden, writes David Overend.

Leucojum vernum. Picture:  PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.
Leucojum vernum. Picture: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

Name a white flower and many people would say ‘‘snowdrop’’. Spot on, but there are many, many more white-flowering plants ideal for most gardens.

For instance, Leucojum vernum, a delicate beauty that may look a bit like a snowdrop, but it’s a bit bigger and a bit later to bloom and it’s known as the spring snowflake. It grows to a height of 15cm and is ideal for naturalizing, rockeries and containers.

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Then there are various anemones, summer jasmine, roses and cosmos – annuals, grown for their showy flowers. Cosmos make good border or container plants. They are ideal for inclusion in flower arrangements and also attract birds, bees, and butterflies to the garden. As a late-summer bloomer, there are few to beat them.

And then... Cleome, or spider flower, known for its exceedingly long seed pods which develop below the blooms as flowering progresses upwards on the stalk. Cleome flowers come in white, pink, or lavender on top of stems which can reach six feet in height – something that makes them ideal for the back of a sunny border. Given a decent soil and plenty of sun, the plants should do well.

And what about camellias? They don’t just flower red or pink, they bloom in white as well.

Camellias love moist but well-drained, slightly acidic soil and do best in sheltered positions in light shade or where they get only morning sun.

The plants will tolerate exposed sunny sites but the flowers won’t. Dense shade will promote lank growth and reduce flowering. Too sunny, and the flowers will burn and drop prematurely.

Dahlias are one of the great joys of the late-summer garden. These startlingly beautiful flowers like a sunny site and a well-drained soil, and are just as at home in a container as in a bed or border. Dahlias come in a variety of shapes and sizes and colours. They are tender, so best to lift them and store them somewhere safe over the winter.

The Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) is certainly not something you see every day – but when you find one in full flower, it’s a sight to behold.

It isn’t a shrub for the average garden – it often suckers and forms extensive colonies via underground runners, and it can grow 15ft tall and the same in width, so it’s not one for a confined space.

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