The Occasional Gardener: Ideas + Aesthetics + Inspiration from the Garden

Painterly Whites


The ribs on the Caladium Lindenii pictured left, look like they're painted on. In the background of the picture on the right, what looks like green paint spattered on white paper is Diffenbachia Star Bright I think, hard to tell with so many variations that look quite similar. The papery leaves in the foreground with the broad watercolor stripes belong to variegated Arrowroot, Maranta Arundinacea, possibly my favorite of this trio.

I inherited these guys from my parents garden, which along with a collection of fragrant white flowered plants, I started organizing into a 'white corner'. To be honest the situation was not ideal- too hot and sunny for these shade lovers, the plan was to get some larger plants and some climbers to protect them. It took a while for that to happen so in the meantime it was virtually plant abuse as I would forget and find them bone dry, scorched which would lead to yellowing and brown edges. Not Pretty.

Things are better now, there's a fair amount of dappled shade. A few repottings have also happened which with regular mulching with compost keeps them in good shape. In return the corner is looking good, these variegated whites provide an illusion of being icy cool- its a joy to catch a glimpse of them on a hot sunny day. At night there's an added etherealness to their appearance which in combination with the evening perfume of the many scented white flowers gives this spot a unique personality of its own.

Now that I have this section and my eye catches white flowered or white variegated plants when I'm plant shopping or just browsing online, its quite extraordinary how many plant there are that fit into this category. Just as I was surprised to discover a while ago the prevalence of white in the fall garden at NYBG and Cape Cod, I'm now finding the same in tropical plants. What a huge range of perfumed white flowered and white variegated leaves there are - many of them native to this part of the world.

The problem still remains that this spot is pretty exposed and can get very hot and dry except in its deepest corner which is where these painterly whites are currently thriving. Next week I'm going to do some moving around, repotting and fence repair so who knows I might end up with a little expansion of this space.

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