Sunday, March 1, 2009

White cottage garden in my head, puddles underfoot

Hard choice: go for a walk in the heavy rain, or stay inside and plan a new garden? 

I have a sunny, irrigated, six-foot by six-foot dooryard that cries out for a design. It used to be a shade garden, filled with Bergenia cordifolia and Acanthus mollis by the previous owners. The Incense Cedar that towered over it all suffered a tragic end, the Bergenia have gone to live under a plum tree in Grass Valley, and the Acanthuses manfully grow then faint in the heat of our summers.

The county government may be sending Plant Protective Services over to rescue the poor Acanthuses. We promise to dig down deep and move them as soon as we safely can.

We have neglected this dooryard, thinking that next year we will revamp and expand the front walk. So here is a desert eyesore, banked on either side by woodsy shade gardens. Something pretty and temporary is called for.

My brilliant idea yesterday was a potager, and then I remembered my good friends the mule deer. A deerproof potager of garlic, onions and rhubarb did not beguile me.

Today's thought is a cottage garden of white blooms. I love white gardens and there is an old patch of Iberis Candytuft in place. Here is a list of other possible flowers, short to tall. Please let me know if you have experience with these:

Alyssum 'Tiny Tim'
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy 'White Linen'
Tanacetum partheniven Feverfew
Nigella Love in a Mist
Zinnia elegans 'Polar Bear' 
Nicotiana alata 'Jasmine Alata'
Nicotiana sylvestris Indian Peace Pipe
Cosmos bipinnatus 'White Seashells'
Helianthus debilis Sunflower 'Vanilla Ice'

And what cottage garden is complete without Alcea Hollyhock? Mine--the deer delight in it.

20 comments:

Katie said...

No experience here with any of those varieties, but I like the theme you've got going there.

Daffodil Planter said...

Thanks Katie!

White flowers are in the air today; I just found a lovely post about them over in Charlotte, NC.

http://flowergardengirl.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/the-all-white-garden/

SusanGardenChick said...

Let's see, I have experience with...none of them! I just realized I must have some sort of white flower prejudice.

I did a consultation last week with one of my long time clients, and she was rhapsodic about some white lavender she planted last year. I have found lavender to not only be reliably deer resistant but to also be deer repellent, so it would be a good thing to mix in with some of the moderately deer proof options. I'll find out the cultivar name and pass it on.

Daffodil Planter said...

GChick, And I thought all you designer types had white houses and white gardens because you were wild to escape from the cacophony of color in your work!

I agree, white lavender is wonderful. I have a white drought-tolerant garden with that and these other albas: rosemary, yarrow, nepeta, centranthus. Nary a deer nibble there.

It's a real dilemma here. My dooryard is cheek by jowl with so many camellias and rhododendrons that lavender is too abrupt a change. The visual impression would be "here we are in the mountains of Asia, and now...Tuscany!" I may be reduced to some paving and a fountain.

Anna/Flowergardengirl said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog! So nice to meet you. I've had experience with all the plants you've mentioned and love the Nigella. I bought some pastel Nigella to plant this year. I love garlic chives!
I linked to you as well so folks could see your choices.

Daffodil Planter said...

Welcome Anna! Thank you for the link and the garlic chive tip. I have found them at one of my favorite nurseries, just over in Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe. http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/alltuberosum.htm
They do impressive packing/shipping and have top quality plants. Thanks so much!

RainGardener said...

Thanks so much for faving me on blotanical. I've had a colored Nicotiana and really enjoyed it but not white. I only have a couple of white flowers at this point and one I just love is Snow In Summer - like your candytuft it will cascade over anything just beautifully.
Funny you mention a white garden as I just saw one the other morning on Gardening By The Yard and it was just beautiful!

Daffodil Planter said...

Welcome RainGardener! I found your Snow in Summer just now on a deer resistant list, so will certainly try it. The common name is much more inviting to me than the Latin, Cerastium tomentosum--sounds unpeaceful, doesn't it? Looks lovely--thank you!

tina said...

All good choices for a cottage garden. I have experience with some of these, though not the specific cultivars. I think most will self seed so before you know it the garden will be full and lush. Lucky the bergenia to find a new home, move that acanthus soon:)

Town Mouse said...

I sowed a packed of the white California Poppy in my front yard and got exactly -- zero plants. (Also tried a purple one, and got one plant). In the meantime, the orange ones are taking over the back yard, so conditions are favorable. If you choose them, you'll have to baby then. A trip to Annie's comes to mind, or mailorder...

Daffodil Planter said...

Town Mouse, That's bad news about the white California Poppies. I am not in the mood to baby any plant; just keeping them alive in our hot summers is a big enough commitment.

Grace Peterson said...

Hi Daff, I've had a similar experience with the Cal poppies. Corn or Shirley poppies, on the other hand, or even the orientals (poppy seed poppies) seed and reseed very well. I read in my early gardening days that once you plant Nicotiana ssp. you will always have them. It's true they reseed in a friendly manner. Maybe you could replant your acanthus in a large container for a shady spot? --Just my two bits. Good luck and keep us posted.

Daffodil Planter said...

Grace, I guess we should to announce to the poppy seeds that they are in the State of California and honor bound to thrive? I will look into the other poppies you mention. No problem about Nicotiana reseeding--fine with me! The acanthus have extensive root systems, which is one reason they have stayed put. but we will find a good home for them on a shady border in the back where they can show off their dramatic foliage. Thanks for your help!

Daffodil Planter said...

Tina, Glad you endorse the choices! Full and fluffy is what I am aiming for!

Town Mouse said...

Well, there is always this:
http://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/plant_display.asp?prodid=152&account=none
(They really do a great job with their mail order plants, big healthy plants in a box with holes in it).

Daffodil Planter said...

Town Mouse, Most kind of you! Annie's is new to me, and in Richmond, CA too! Hmm, between the Point Isabel dog park and Annie's it's a definite possible destination for my pack.

Of course, getting a link from you to a native plant nursery does have a missionary whiff :-)

Sarah said...

the white theme sounds wonderful! I don't have much experience with those plants except the zinnias, (my grandma send me some love in the mist and alyssum seed from her garden so I am planning on trying to plant that this year) which I have tried many times and the deer very much appreciate it....of course they appreciate almost everything I plant, even if it is bad tasting at first...by the end of the season they are desperate and eating much of what they wouldn't touch in April....I am sure you have the same problem, I am curious what you do plant that they don't eat...I am somewhat new to the area (I live in Placerville) and am trying to "retrain" my gardening brain! (I grew up on the east coast and moved here from Portland,OR) I have never had quite the deer problem I have here!

Daffodil Planter said...

Welcome Sarah! Thanks for the zinnia info--I will take them off my list. Gardening with deer around is challenging, but I have two suggestions for you: 1) Get Carolyn Singer's books (link on the right side of my blog) and always take them with you when plant shopping, 2) Go meet Trey at The Gecko in Garden Valley. His blog is The Blogging Nurseryman (on my blog roll).

And email me too, address in my profile.

Joyce said...

Down here in Bernal Heights, I always have some sweet alyssum (not sure if it's the 'tiny tim') growing because it's such a hard worker: the bees and butterflies love it, it softly fills in unsightly spaces, and the parasitic wasps -- the ones who keep the bad guys under control -- love it.

potagergardengirl said...

Thanks Daffodilplanter for the suggestion! I'm hoping or wondering if I plant enough flowers out front that it won't be as obvious that I went scissor happy on it?. Its so plain now and the front lawn too...hmmm perhaps I'll try it this year and see and if it look too back when cut at then next year I'll leave it alone..I don't know. Thanks for your thoughts appreciate it!