Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
June, 2005
Regional Report

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White caladiums are great for brightening a shady spot.

White and Gray are Colors, Too

Green turf, green shrubs, and green trees combine in our landscapes to provide a foundation of green color, the palate onto which we paint. Some landscapes remain unpainted, a sea of green. Some receive a spotting of color with a few annual and perennial flowers, while others go farther including colorful foliage plants. A few go all out, bringing a riot of colors.

I'd like to say a few words about the most neglected of colors -- white and grey. Yes, white and gray are colors, too. While not as exciting as red, blue, yellow, or violet, they serve several important functions. They provide a break in the sea of green, another background to paint on when used en masse.

The Virtues of White
White gives an elegant, serene feeling to a landscape setting. It provides a neutral base from which we can build in any color scheme we choose. Basically, it gets along with all the other colors well.

White brightens dark, shady areas. Use it to line a path through a shady part of the landscape. Such a line of white draws the eye into areas that otherwise would go unnoticed. Large splashes of white brighten shade. They actually make a shady spot more suitable for other colors by drawing attention to the area.

Many night-blooming plants are white and fragrant, too, as these characteristics draw moths to the blooms for pollination. If you have an outdoor area, such as a patio or deck, that you would like to make more suitable for evening gatherings, use white-blooming plants generously in the design.

White is not just for shade and evening hours. Many white plants work well in a sunny location where they combine with other colors to fill in the palate. In shady areas consider white caladiums, impatiens, Aztec grass, and variegated forms of ivy, Asian jasmine, and hydrangeas. In sun, many blooming plants offer white varieties.

Shades of Gray
Gray foliage plants are usually best suited for sunny spots. They combine especially well with shades of blue for a cooling visual effect. Gardeners in the southwestern parts of the lower south are especially fond of gray foliage in their designs.

Plants with gray to silver foliage include various artemisias, such as 'Powis Castle' and 'Silver Mound', dusty miller (Cineraria), rose campion (Lychnis coronaria), gray types of yarrow (such as Achillea 'Moonshine'), silver ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea), lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina), wooly stemodia (Stemodia lanata), bush germander (Teucrium fruticans), lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus), lavender, and Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).

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