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Springtime White Is Hard To Beat
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Spring has arrived with all of its glorious colors -- purples, pinks, yellows and reds, but the color guaranteed to catch your eye every time is white. We all need to use white more often.
White reflects light to offer ideal landscape use. Notice what Mother Nature does in the forest. The dogwoods are just now starting to bloom, attracting our attention to the glistening, reflective bracts in an otherwise dull forest.
Every southern gardener loves azaleas. The Southern Indica types like Formosa, Judge Solomon and George Lindley Taber are some of the most popular, but notice a garden late in the afternoon. Those azalea flowers start to fade or drop out of sight but one Southern Indica, the G.G. Gerbing, is still glistening. This is one of the best old-time white azaleas around.
You see varieties like Hershey Red or Hino Crimson looking spectacular, but add some Delaware Valley White and the garden becomes complete.
Most everyone loves the wisteria with the fragrant bluish-purple flowers hanging down like grape clusters. In my opinion, one of the most overlooked and underused wisteria is the white one. A white wisteria draping a fence or an arbor is a sight to behold.
White flowers not only give definition to those shadier areas of the landscape but also offer a sense of cleanliness and purity. They also give a feeling of planning and precision. In other words, the gardener knew what he was doing by carefully planting white.
Springtime whites are available not only in dogwoods, azaleas and wisteria but also in old-fashioned Deutzia, the Tazetta class of narcissus and spiraea.
If there is any doubt whether the Bradford Pear is still a good tree, look around you. They are blooming all across the state like giant snowballs.
Some of my favorite roses are white selections. The Cherokee Rose, Rosa laevigata, grows wild in much of the South and is every bit as colorful as a dogwood. The Cherokee rose is the state flower of Georgia but is actually from China. The fragrant flowers are up to 3 inches across.
Another of my favorite white roses is Sally Holmes. Sally Holmes is classified as a shrub rose but is great when trained as a climber on lattice or on a pillar. It came out in 1976 as a result of a cross between Ivory Fashion and Ballerina. The foliage is dark glossy green that serves to contrast nicely with the large 3 inch slightly fragrant white blossoms.
Don't forget bedding plants that are white, especially in those filtered-light areas. Some of the best are impatiens and begonias. These can be combined with other pastels to really liven up those areas and to give them definition.
White caladiums are another ideal choice for these areas. White Christmas, White Queen and Candidum are some of the best. I must admit those white strapped-leaf types are also very showy and usually have more leaves per plant than the fancy-leafed varieties.
I'll close by reminding you of one of the best all-time crape myrtles with white flowers, the variety Natchez. This 1999 Mississippi Medallion winner reaches 21 feet in height and has great flower power, colorful fall foliage and a winter bark that become a focal point in the landscape.
Don't overlook white bloomers in your landscape plan this year.