White Flower Garden Design

Pictures of the white flower garden at Sissinghurst Castle. Discover the keys to making all white gardens sing. The best roses to plant in a white rose garden. Create a white flowering bulb garden.

White flower garden at Sissinghurst Castle.

The White Garden at Sissinghurst

As the first ever created, the white flower garden at Sissinghurst Castle is the mother of all white gardens. It was designed by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson in 1950 and is still the most famous white garden in the world.

Note: The pergola at the center of the garden was not part of the original design. It was added in the late 1960s.

What Makes a White Garden Work?

Poppies in the white flower garden at Sissinghurst.

White poppies in the garden at Sissinghurst.

Design Tip

If your garden is large enough, consider planting a white flowering tree to add color up high.

If the extensive root system of a tree cannot be accomodated, substitute a flowering vine or climbing rose.

The thing that makes the biggest impact in a white garden is not the flowers but the foliage. The right mixture of leaf colors and textures is what you need to keep an all white garden interesting throughout the year.

Dark green against white is a serene and cooling combo; silver and white is downright icy and opulent. By mixing in teals and plants with grayish foliage you banish blandness from your garden beds.

Don't be afraid to use plants with variegated foliage. Their green and white leaves will serve to keep your white planting on point during those times when no flowers are in bloom.

A Note on Variegation:

There is disagreement among garden designers on this, but I would caution you against using plants with yellow or golden variegation in their leaves as I feel these detract from white flower gardens.

White Garden Flowers

A white garden bench in a white garden.

This white garden bench is prettily matted by the yew hedge behind it and framed by the white borders running the length of the grass path leading to it.

White flowers will range in hue from milk to cream. Some will have a greenish tint. Others a rosy glow.

I wouldn't worry about this. They will all work together as long as you take care to vary the flower sizes and shapes. This is the perfect opportunity to plant all your favorite white flowers.

Still, unhappy pairings can arise in the most carefully planned community. If this happens, try placing something that is green when the warring neighbors are in bloom between them to separate them and act as referee.

As a last resort, move 1 of your floral tenants into new digs. Fortunately, plants are like furniture. They can be rearranged until both you and they are satisfied.

Remember: Plants are like furniture; they can be rearranged until both you and they are satisfied.

A white border may seem less challenging to plant than an all white garden.

Picture of the white border in the garden where the white bench, above, resides.

If designing an all white garden seems too daunting a task, test the waters by planting a white border first.

The White Rose Garden

White rose parterres enhance a Dutch home.

This white rose garden has been planted in parterres (most likely of boxwood) neatly arranged in an emerald lawn.

Before I saw this garden, I had always believed that a white flower garden backed by a white house would be overkill.

Clearly, I was wrong.

The Best White Garden Roses

Rose - Blanc Double de Coubert - Hybrid Rugosa
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Disease resistant, shapely bushes are what you want for this type of planting, so Hybrid Teas are not the best option. HTs produce large, beautiful and often fragrant roses, but they are bred for cutting not garden display. Their perfect blooms form on (usually) rather unattractive and disease prone plants.

The Floribunda roses, on the other hand, are unrivaled garden shrubs. They tend toward plumpness, unlike the lanky HTs, and are bred to produce clusters of smaller flowers instead of large blooms held singly on long stems. Think of the Floribunda as the Hybrid Tea's fat, flamboyant sister.

It just so happens that the plant many rosarians consider to be the best all-purpose rose in the world is a white Floribunda.

'Iceberg' is one of the most popular white roses of all time for good reason. Its flowers are fragrant, rain resistant and hold up well in the vase to boot.

If you wish to incorporate climbing roses into your white rose garden, 'Climbing Iceberg' makes the choice easy.

If you have a large pergola you would like to drape in romance, the white 'Lady Banks' rose will not disappoint you. This old rambler blooms just once each spring, but its dainty foliage is evergreen and always healthy and its stems are thronless.

Plant a White Flowering Bulb Garden

White calla lilies corralled by a box hedge.

Best Price on White Calla Lily Blubs

The white funnel flowers of these calla lilies make a bold and dramatic statement. Substitute drumstick allium for a more whimsical planting.

While a planting of a single bulb will have tremendous visual impact, a white flowering bulb garden consisting of a mixture of plants will provide a much longer season of bloom.

Blend the following for blooms throughout the growing season:




  • Japanese Anemones
  • Crocuses
  • Cyclamen
  • Snowdrops

Related Pages:

Eye-Catching Succulent Gardens

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