Green And White

green and white (9)Green and white in a container garden can be spectacular. I have more than a few clients who request this cool and collected color palette. Summer in the mid west can be cruelly hot. A white garden always looks cool and crisp; white shrugs off the heat. White flowers read well from a distance, and are startlingly beautiful at dusk. When they are well grown, white flowers are stunning.  Among my favorites?  White hardy hibiscus, Visions in White astilbe, white anemones of any genus, white daffodils, white roses, need I go on?  Green is what gives a garden or landscape a living context. Living green is vastly different than green paint. Light endows green and white in a garden with as much visual energy as serenity. Odd, that. This client has a decidedly contemporary point of view, and a big love of white. I try to give that white to her with both reliable and unusual plants. The diminutive white and purple streptocarpus, the big leaved white caladiums and the white streaked watermelon pepperomia set the stage for this very shady set of boxes.

green and white (13)Birds nest ferns and variegated licorice provide the supporting cast. The white New Guinea impatiens are the most astrikingly white of the group, and they are thriving here.So happy to see them tolerating such a low light level.  This is the shadiest of my green and white containers for this client. I deliberately split up the white plants, to establish a lively rhythm.

green and white (8)The window boxes in front-I have no need to trick them out. A contemporary expression asks for simple.  White New Guinea impatiens in all of the boxes-perfect. Once they have a little time, and some more heat, they will thrive.

green and white (11)The rosemary standards were part of the spring planting.  There is no need to replace them.  The are growing.  I under planted them with scotch moss, just to give the trunks a little space. I have my fingers crosses that the water the moss wants will not be too much for the rosemary. Every container planting has its drama. The key will be thoughtful watering. The XXL dahlia series is the best medium height dahlias it has ever been my pleasure to grow. The stems are sturdy.  They are disease resistant.  They flower heavily early on. They are oh so showy.  White petunias in the front-ordinary as can be.  But paired with showy oregano, the relationship is a little more complicated and interesting.  green and white (14)My crew fusses that I post pictures during a planting.  They would rather I take pictures at the end, when everything is thoroughly watered and cleaned up.  I like the pictures with the dirt. I cannot really explain this, but I learned from my Mom that good friable soil that is loaded with organic material and drains well is clean. The dirt inside my socks and under my nails this time of year is a comfort.  It means all is right with my world.

green and white gardenThose dahlias laid out in a block awaiting planting are so incredibly beautiful. Showy white plants have their place in pots.  An ordinary container cannot hold enough Queen Anne’s Lace to make a statement.  Those airy blooming relatives of the common carrot belong in a field. Selecting white flowers for containers?  Try white dwarf cosmos or cleome, white angelonia, white New Guinea impatiens, Lanai white trailing verbena.  white geraniums-if you must. White zinnias, both dwarf and tall are great in containers. As a centerpiece, white mandevillea cannot be beat. Vinca vine-as ordinary as red geraniums. But skillfully used, it is a beautiful white accent in a container. We have on occasion wound it upwards on a plant climber.

green and white (6)This rosemary topiary did not ask for much fuss.  A collar of white petunias is enough.

green and white (2)I planted a tall cylindrical pot in deep shade with one of my favorite green plants-pepperomia. Trailing down the sides, the garden variety vinca vine, and a white variegated tradescantia. Once this grows out and up, it will do justice to this gorgeous contemporary Atelier Verkant container.

green and white (3)The mix of classical and contemporary containers here is striking.  A green and white planting is a great way to focus on the mix of container shapes and materials. In a month, the relationships the plants forge from one pot to the other will be much clearer.

green and white (10)This pot features a rosemary topiary surrounded by a giant collar of lavender.  I am quite sure that given some time, each of these elements will grow in to each other in an interesting proportion.  I do not mind the lavender in this green and white color scheme. A green and white rule is better when that rule is broken.

green and white (12)Should I ever plant a spike or a phormium in a container, Lucio ties up that cascading centerpiece, so he can plant all around it.  This is a picture not so much about design, but about how my crew and I work together. All of them to the last have a gift for planting and growing plants. This is his signature, which I greatly respect.


green and white (5)Every plant has a face. That face needs to be forward.  Every center plant needs to be perfectly placed in the middle. Every center plant needs to be oriented to the primary view. Some center plants need to be planted at the back of the container, depending on their placement. Some plants need to be pitched over the edges of a container. Others need to be planted vertically.  This is not so much about color, texture or mass as it is about planting technique. My crew never rushes a planting.  Watching them plant from a plan is the best part of my good life.

green and white (4)I am very pleased about this day’s work.

green and white (1)

green and white (16)Green and white. Pure delight.




  1. Beautiful containers. The green and white combination is simple and striking all at once. As you said, the white shows up nicely at dusk and dark. Currently my collection of Kousa dogwood trees have finished booming and Cherokee chief dogwoods are in full bloom. Both are white. I have planted these trees at the perimeter of my inner garden to show the departure to the woodlands on my property. I find this another good use of white.

  2. Seeing these beautiful containers gets me so excited for your garden tour . I can hardly wait ! It’s in July, right ?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Julie, the tour is Sunday July 17. I am hoping to have tickets ready this coming week. best, Deborah

  3. Carolyn Neiman says

    As always, your comments and tips are much appreciated!

  4. Absolutely stunning!
    May I ask which climbing hydrangea is growing to the left of the container in the third photo?

  5. Green kissed with white makes my heart beat faster and calms my head – a strange and welcome synchrony.

    Thank you for this vision of loveliness.

  6. Deborah, I so admire your work and your comments that show how you go about making such beautiful containers. I have one flower bed devoted to green and white only. It is one of my favorite spaces on the property. And we often sit on the deck in the evening overlooking this garden as it glows in late summer eve light. As you say, white and green bring a crispness to summer like a clean white T-shirt and jeans or a tennis dress. Your artistic understanding of what particular plants offer the visual weight to balance other choices always amazes.

  7. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Susan, I like this idea. How great that you have woodlands! best, Deborah

  8. Christine Litka says

    Deborah, Do you fill those tall, deep containers with some material other than potting soil? They look lovely.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Christine, at least half, if not 2/3rds of the pots are filled with drainage material-usually bark-sometimes pea gravel. best, Deborah

  9. Charisse Andrews says

    Green and white, my favorite, as I gradually grow more and more of just these two into my gardens. I also use Moonflower and at night they bloom like dozens of softly glowing mini lanterns. I have a gigantic climbing hydrangea that has climbed all the way up my brick fireplace, but alas, after many years it has yet to bloom like the lovely one in photo #3. thank you for the inspiration.

  10. Sue Lowery says

    You never fail to startle me with a never before considered pairing! Love all of these.

  11. Michael Haynes says

    Green and white may sound so simple and plain, but what an impact it can make in the darker shaded areas in our gardens!! Can I ask what the upright blue contraption is in the photo with the chase lounge? Hope you are enjoying this Spring planting season!
    Be well!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Michael, believe it or not, I did not look at that blue thing. best, Deborah

    • Abbie J. says

      Blue contraption is probably Cornilleau outdoor table tennis table.
      (Ping pong balls landing in the grass = green & white!)

  12. Sheri B. says

    So inspiring! The combination of white/green variation of plants and the unique containers are just magical…lucky homeowners! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous world! 🙂

  13. Lovely white and green. Not in my landscape except for the Kousa Dogwood, but I so appreciate it others. Thanks for the inspiration. And I too am so happy digging in the dirt. Wonder what folks think when they see my toes in Pilates – I just explain – I’m in between pedicure and planting season!

  14. Ellen Rufe says

    Thank you for your beautiful ideas for green and white…we can definitely do the green rosemary or phormium with a collar (love that use of the word) of white petunias out here in the West. Deer resistant too. Again, thanks Deborah!!

  15. Jacki VanHuis says

    Love this! We redid our front porch and added a paved patio in front last fall- very shaded area. So I did a lot of white and green this spring and love it. The white almost glows in the dark in the evening.

  16. lorna smith says

    Thank you for a beautiful, informative post Deborah.

  17. carmen chavez says

    I love all these pictures which give us great ideas to improve our gardens . It’s true that white and green is a great combination. Thanks for all.

  18. Jennifer Taylor says

    I can’t say it often enough. Your posts are a joy to me. Your work, your thoughtful and instructive comments, your love for your work and your staff, the gorgeous homes, pots and gardens, and all the information you share – every post is a gift. Thank you Deborah!

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