Northern Shade Gardening

Elegant White Summer Flowers

Saturday, August 16, 2008 Category: Perennials,Trees and Shrubs
Phlox paniculata 'David' (David garden phlox)

Phlox paniculata

Bright, clean white is an elegant flower colour for the late summer garden. The 3 brightest whites in my garden right now are Phlox paniculata ‘David’ (garden phlox), Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ (PG Hydrangea),  and Impatiens walleriana ‘Fiesta White’ (double impatiens). White flowers look cool and refreshing, like a crisp, white cotton shirt.

Phlox paniculata is a stately perennial for the summer and fall garden. It can form good sized clumps, that stand out in a flower bed. Mine are 1m to 1.3m tall (3ft to 4ft). Despite their height, they don’t need staking, although a fierce storm can test their sturdiness. The large beautiful blooms are  long lasting. I cut the flowers as they fade, to keep the plant blooming. They are a classic for the summer garden, and combine well with just about any other perennial around them.

This one is flowering in part-shade. Its partner across the yard is in medium shade and has not started blooming yet. They flower better without too much shade, but tolerate part-shade well.

Hydrangea paniculata "Grandiflora' (PG hydrangea)

Hydrangea paniculata

I used to have different varieties of P. paniculata in a previous garden, and was fortunate not to have much powdery mildew. However if it’s a problem, the variety ‘David’ is especially known for its resistance to powdery mildew.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ (PG hydrangea) is another prominent bloomer this month. I compared it to  some other hydrangea in another post. The last time I posted about it, the flowers were only partially out. This photo shows how the white panicles are more striking now that they’ve had time to open. It’s an outstanding shrub for part-shade. This PG is on the north side of a fence.  I’m very pleased with the number of blooms this shrub has, for being in a mostly shady site.  A smaller PG hydrangea, located in deeper shade under a willow tree, is not producing blooms the same way.

Like the Phlox, the large hydrangea blooms are long-lasting. It’s always satisfying when a gorgeous flower blooms for an extended time. In the late fall, the panicles still add interest as they fade to brown. Early next spring I’ll snip off the old flowers.

Here’s a much smaller white bloom. This double flowering impatiens is ‘Fiesta White’. Up close, they sometimes have the faintest, pale pink tinge. These small plants are covered in the pretty blossoms. The flowers give the appearance of miniature rose blooms with a multitude of petals. Impatiens don’t need deadheading to keep them flowering. The old blooms fall off, and a steady supply of new buds replace them.

They are satisfied growing in medium shade, where the soil stays moister. Deep shade cuts into the bloom count.

Impatiens are like an annual in zone 3. They can only be placed outside after the last frosts, and will finish quickly after the first frosts in September or October, but until then they’ll brighten the shade. Yesterday there was a full moon. As I looked out the window late at night, these flowers were visible, twinkling in the moonlight.

Impatiens walleriana 'Fiesta White'

Impatiens walleriana

Here is apost I wrote before, about some white flowering plants in the spring.

Do you grow any stalwarts like hydrangea or phlox, that you can depend on to put on a good display?

26 Responses to “Elegant White Summer Flowers” »

  1. perennialgardenlover :
    August 16, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    I love those white blossoms, they are very elegant and would be a good addition to a moon garden too.

  2. Northern Shade :
    August 16, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Perennialgardenlover, the bright whites are fabulous at dusk. They show up well from a distance.

  3. Barbee' :
    August 16, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Beautiful photos of beautiful flowers!

  4. Northern Shade :
    August 16, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks, Barbee’. Phlox and hydrangeas are so deservedly popular with gardeners. Both of them really put on a good show.

  5. Gail :
    August 17, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Yes, I do, but first I wanted to tell you that your white flowers are beautifully photographed. They jump off the page…like a quality white paint! I have several phlox, pilosa and paniculata and i have to have in the garden, and then there is Rudbeckia hirta the backbone of the late summer garden! Thank you for asking! Gail

  6. Northern Shade :
    August 17, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Gail, thanks. Your Rudbeckia is definitely a show stopper right now, and your practically perfect pink phlox was a beautiful Act 1.
    When you have some leading actors in the garden, that bloom for a long time, and make their presence known, then the other players can go on and off stage, while the show continues.

  7. Marie :
    August 18, 2008 at 10:19 am

    I love white flowers! Especially on days that are grey and cloudy. And in the evening.

  8. Northern Shade :
    August 18, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Marie, the white flowers are dazzling in the shadowy areas. The first photo of the phlox was taken in the early evening under an overcast sky. It shines in front of the Viburnum.

  9. Mother Nature :
    August 18, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I like lots of white flowers in the garden.

  10. Northern Shade :
    August 18, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Mother Nature, right now I have a lot of white with the green and silver, along with blue from the bellflowers. I was hoping that the Cimicifuga (bugbane) would add their tall, white candles soon, but they don’t even appear to have buds yet.

  11. The Hunky Gardener :
    August 19, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    I really like the white double impatiens!

  12. Northern Shade :
    August 19, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    The Hunky Gardener, the double impatiens are a good looking flower, blooming continuously up until frost without deadheading. The miniature rose look is very appealing. I grow them next to the astilbe, both of them having similar cultural requirements.

  13. Dee :
    August 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    the white blooms are just gorgeous! Perfect for a summer wedding!

  14. Northern Shade :
    August 19, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Dee, it’s too bad that lily of the valley blooms earlier in the spring then. They would make a beautifully scented bouquet to go with the theme.

  15. Monica :
    August 20, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Now that I see pictures of your lovely white phlox paniculata, I really miss the ones I had in my previous garden. They were so beautiful! And white makes such wonderful contrasts in a shady part of the garden.
    (Before next summer, I must get some white p paniculata for this garden!)


  16. Northern Shade :
    August 20, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Monica, in my last garden I had a P. paniculata ‘Mount Fuji’, which is also pure white.
    As I walked to my garden tap a couple of days ago, there was a wonderful scent. I looked around and spotted the phlox. I had forgotten about the pleasant fragrance of ‘David’.

  17. Marie :
    August 22, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Hi Northern Shade Gardener,

    I never realized what a pop white flowers can be. Thanks for the great pictures. I will be looking for more white in the future, especially in the part shade parts of my garden.

    I’m in love with ‘David’. My husband is OK with that. ‘Katherine’ has a little mildew right now and is dropping lower leaves. I’m sure there is not enough air circulation. Things are a little tight in my “Mother’s Garden”. I have a stand of snapdragons in front of the phlox. The snapdragons hide the messy lower parts of the phlox but may further impede air flow.

    It was very nice to meet you. I’m enjoying your blog very much. Zone 3 brrrr!

  18. Northern Shade :
    August 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Marie, white flowers and silver foliage have good reflection in the shade. They are very noticeable in the shadows.
    Thanks for the information about P. paniculata ‘Katherine’. I’ve been thinking about adding some to the garden, since the lavender coloured blooms with white stars look pretty. Your photo of ‘Katherine’ shows how good it looks in the garden. I haven’t had much mildew problems on phlox, but I know it’s always a possibility.
    The Chicago Botanic Garden has some good information about the mildew resistance of specific varieties of phlox from their trials. Here’s their summary of phlox mildew resistance, Even the ones they rate as good have a percentage of mildew. ‘Katherine’ received a good overall rating. The ‘Mount Fujiyama’, which I grew at my last garden, received a poor rating for mildew resistance from them.

  19. Barbara :
    August 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Only two years ago I planted phlox paniculata in my garden. But I realized they need a lot of sun to get a reasonable size. On the northern side of the house I also have the white impatience walleriana and furthermore a sort with white/green leaves. This year I am not so lucky with the hydrangeas (of all sorts). Only a few plants show some blooms. That’s a pity, I like them very much. But I hope for next year. Do you know the haydrangea arborescens “Annabelle” with its huge and also long lasting flowers. Very recommendable.

  20. Northern Shade :
    August 24, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Barbara, my Phlox paniculata in part-shade is a good sized clump, but my phlox in medium shade is about 30cm (1ft) shorter, and smaller around. The bloom is also delayed for my phlox in medium shade.
    I have an Annabelle hydrangea, but it is still small, and I think it is in too much shade, since it only has 4 blooms on it. I’ll see if it blooms more next year.

  21. Karen :
    August 27, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    The scent of phlox on a summer evening is up there with the most delightful smells in the world. Thanks for the lovely photos!

    – Karen

  22. Northern Shade :
    August 27, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Karen, they do have a very nice scent. I planted peony, lilac and phlox near my bedroom window, thinking the fragrance would drift in at night, but it didn’t work yet. They do perfume the air when I go to my water tap though.

  23. Pomona :
    September 10, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I’m also a white flower fan. One other reason to love them: they make you feel cooler in hot weather!

    I’ve been toying with the notion of getting phlox ‘David’; you may have sent me over the edge. Good to know they also bloom in a bit more shade; you could stagger bloom on purpose maybe. I also love the double white impatiens, which I hadn’t seen before. Some late summer/early fall stalwarts in my garden: Rudbeckia hirta (along with everyone else); Cyclamen neapolitanum (I may have gotten the name wrong; but it’s close); a species rose-pink cyclamen that comes back reliably fall after fall; it has just started flowering and will go until November. This year I’ve also got some cool varieties of gaillardia just kicking in. But they’re no good for shade.

  24. Northern Shade :
    September 10, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Pomona, my David phlox in medium shade is almost a month behind in blooming compared to the one that is in part shade. It’s shorter, but does surprisingly well.
    All of the double impatiens in the garden look just like that photo, full of blooms the entire season. The drawback here is that they pack it in at the first frost. I’m not sure how they handle extended heat.
    The cyclamen sounds pretty. It’s great to have a reliable flower for the late season, something to anticipate.

  25. Ken from Sweden :
    September 10, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Hi again!
    If I click on the emty place I can see your pictures one by one, They are beautiful and it shows that we have not only same climate but simular plants to.
    I hope I get right soon, this is a very intresting blog, just in my taste.

  26. Northern Shade :
    September 11, 2008 at 12:07 am

    Ken, again thank you for letting me know that the photos are not showing up for you. I will check into it to see what the problem might be. I have tested the site in IE 7 and 8, Firefox, Safari and Opera. Are you using a different browser than these? A translator? I would like to get the pictures working for you.

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