This Year, Grow A White Garden

Author: Meera, January 4, 2018

Vita Sackville-West, prolific English author, poetess, and avid gardener described her now-famous white garden at Sissinghurst in Kent as a garden of gray, green, and white. She wrote a column about it in the Observer that was published January 22, 1950 and republished in 2009. See,



Vita Sackville-West hoped her experiment would be successful. Still, she opined that a garden can look well enough on paper but can fail “after you tuck your plans into the soil.” You can only hope it will turn out well.



Bacopa's small white flowers blooms from spring through fall

Bacopa’s small white flowers blooms from spring through fall



Indeed, her garden succeeded as she had hoped. It has garnered worldwide fame as the “white garden at Sissinghurst,” one of the most visited areas of the castle gardens. Her vision for it was quite simply a fairly large bed divided into halves by a paved walkway that ended with seating for visitors to sit facing the garden. Rising at their backs would be a really high hew hedge.



White blooming roses are beautiful under moonlight

White blooming roses are beautiful under moonlight



She envisioned many fragrant and ravishing florals sticking up through gray-green foliage. Her chosen blooms for this white garden, best experienced beneath a full moon for its appearance and scent, included dozens of tall trumpets of white Regale lilies,  peonies, and irises, in hues of white to the palest creamy yellow.



In creating her garden, Sackville-West was manifesting a hoped-for result. She considered her garden as an amusing exercise and encouraged others to experiment in their gardens as well, according to their own “taste” and “opportunities.”



If you’d like to create a white garden, search for plants in white-blooming varieties and choose some for their fragrance: cleome (attracts pollinators), dianthus, primrose, evening stock (a scented annual whose fragrance intensifies at twilight), lily, phlox, night-blooming jessamine (possesses an intoxicating scent), tuberose, geranium, and white rose.


For gray-green foliage under these plants, tuck in lambs ears, snow-in-summer, or artemisia (this genus has between 200 and 400 plants). Or, use the plants Sackville-West chose for edging–specifically, Dianthus Mrs. Sinkins and Stachys Lanata).



White geranium

White geraniums are easy to grow



For a small space, why not create a circular bed. Plant a fragrant, white rose, perhaps Claire Austin, named for the English rose breeder David Austin’s daughter. In a circle around the rose, plant yarrow with silvery-gray foliage. In the next layer (furthest from the rose and shortest) use bacopa, alyssum, or other white edging plants to create the  outermost circle around the yarrow. The trio of layers in constant bloom creates a lovely bed with the appearance of a fairy ring–dramatic under the moonlight.






If you enjoy reading about gardening,  keeping bees and chickens, and other rural topics and you like a good mystery, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozies, including A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES.



All available online and in bookstores everywhere

All available online and in bookstores everywhere






Enrich your reading pleasure by putting on your muck boots and stepping into the world of Abigail Mackenzie and her coterie of friends in charming Las Flores, California where the local movie theater still serves up homemade pastries and locals gather at the only watering hole in town, the Black Witch.


Besides offering a cozy mystery to solve, these books are chocked full of


1. Delicious recipes


2. Farming and gardening tips


3. Facts and tips for keeping bees and chickens


4. Tidbits of farm wisdom




My newest nonfiction books include:


More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you



Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment





read comments ( 0 )

Attracting Butterflies into Your Garden

Author: Meera, August 27, 2013


Western Yellow Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on geraniums

The Western Tiger Swallowtail, shown here on geraniums, resembles its counterpart,  the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


While sipping my morning coffee today, I spotted a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly in my garden. So naturally, I had to put down my mug of coffee and grab my camera.


These beauties have wingspans stretching up to four inches. The butterflies are often seen in woodlands around streams and riverbanks or canyons in the west. For a complete list of butterflies for Northern California, see


Here on the farmette, these beautiful butterflies feed on the nectar of the garden plants. I often see them on the blooms of my hedge of lavender and elsewhere on the zinnias. They also flit over and and perched on the water fountain near where I grow roses and wisteria.


You can attract these particular butterflies into your Northern California gardens by planting petunia, Mexican sunflower, dianthus, and the butterfly bush. But do a little research on creating a butterfly garden if you want to attract different types of butterflies. And don’t use pesticides or insecticides if you are serious about creating such a haven.


read comments ( 0 )

Planning and Planting a Perfumed White Garden

Author: Meera, January 24, 2013
Climbing Sally Clune's showy blooms are beautiful in the moonlight

Climbing Sally Holmes’s showy blooms are beautiful in the moonlight


Some years ago while researching a book about decorating with flowers and floral motifs, I learned about the white garden of English writer Vita Sackville-West. The garden was part of her Sissinghurst estate in Kent, England. I seized upon the idea of someday having my own white garden.


Sackville-West’s garden, planted roughly from 1949 to 1950 featured various plants with white flowers and others with gray-green foliage. The combination of white and gray-green colors is stunning when viewed by moonlight. The author sought not only ravishing florals such as Regale lilies and trumpet lilies, dianthus, and white peonies but also made certain that her chosen flowers would perfume the garden.


On my Henny Penny farmette, I’ve created a fairy ring in a white garden that I’ve started. The center of the fairy ring is an Iceberg hybrid tea rose. I used artemisia (Dusty Miller) with silvery gray-green leaves planted in a circle around the rose. I frequently have to aggressively clip the artemisia as its feathery leaves grow fairly fast.


In another area, I have also planted a group of floribunda white roses and plan to put in white mugwort. Other plants with white blooms will be added and then the whole area encircled in yarrow. A piece of statuary, perhaps a four or five foot angel, will be installed to finish the project.


Other white flowering plants I could tuck into a white garden could include tuberose, phlox, Madonna lily, evening stock, cleome, and various white roses. Those plants are also highly fragrant.


A perfect place to position a white perfumed garden might be beyond a bedroom window. You could see it in the moonlight and breathe in the heady perfume as you are falling asleep.








read comments ( 0 )