A Green and White Garden

Green and white gardens interest me more now, than they did twenty years ago. They have the same sophisticated visual appeal as a great black and white photograph.  Michael Kenna’s landscape photographs are breathtaking;  his view of the landscape is so much about the sculpture of green spaces.  The success of the great French landscapes has much to do with great, strictly edited design. I would call my personal point of view about landscape  hopelessly romantic Italian-I can get out of hand fast. When I hear green and white garden from a client, I think edited and sculptural.

aug4a_019These clients have lived many years in a lovely old Tudor style house built in the 1920’s.  However, they both have a love for clean,  modern and edited lines. Working with them has produced a garden that has elements both friendly to the architecture of the house, and  their point of view.  They were both clear that a green and white garden would suit them best. 

july23b_037The landscape of the front of the house was already in place when I met them.  My input involved the sizes of the flower beds, and the construction and installation of the window boxes.   The profusion of flowers is decidedly English in feeling, but the green and white has a crisply contemporary flavor. The strong, dark green horizontal line of the boxwood hedge contrasts and compliments the mass of the oval yews.  This element is balanced by the four columnar gingkos that frame the walk at the street. The simple steel windowbox is a focal point at the visual end of the walk. 


tThe flower beds were planted in stripes, perpendicular to the wall.  White dahlias are skirted with white polka-dot plant.  Striped of white New Guinea impatiens are bordered on both sides by simple rectangles of sagina subulata-Scotch moss.

aug4a_026The upper level is planted more freely, with variegated licorice, white petunias and more polka dots.  This bedding plant scheme derives more visual interest from its texture and layout than from the plant species.

july14_081The window boxes are lush with green angelina, euphorbia, and licorice.  The angular nicotiana alata white frames the more orderly growing Perfume nicotiana series  in white and lime green.

The landscape renovation of the rear yard fell to me.  They were certain that they wanted water in some form, and a more orderly, primarily green garden.  The shade had not been so friendly to their collection of perennials, and the winter interest was slight. The existing stone terrace off the porch was easy to dress up with Italian terra cotta pots devoted to green and white annual plants.�
There are plenty of white foliages plants-such as caladiums and hostas, that do well with this level of shade.  I did pay particular attention to planting green foliage plants of interest as well.

aug_7_10_am_033A custom made steel cistern positioned on axis to the porch, and the side walk organizes the space.  It was constructed with legs tall enough to hide the fountain pump, but also to provide for the eventual height of the boxwood surrounding it. Bordered in boxwood, a run of limelight hydrangeas provides another level of interest against the green arborvitae wall.


Variegated plectranthus, white New Guinea impatiens and the lime green scotch moss echo the porch plantings.

My clients do have a love for stone; the wall pictured above is but one example of the beautiful stonework on this property.  Previously obscured by perennials and boxwood, the view to the wall is now unobstructed.  A group of five columnar maples provide green screening above the wall.  We gently sloped the bed down from the wall, and planted the boxwood at the base of that bed. That wall has taken on a very clean sculptural look, its traditional granite  notwithstanding.  The mix of soft and strict is a pleasing one.