I tend to gravitate to hot colors in my gardens. As a result, I have a lot of bold reds and oranges with yellows and golds scattered about. However, as I started incorporating more white flowers in some of my gardens to cool them down a bit – even I can handle only so much heat! – I began to appreciate lighter, softer, more pastel colors. I also found myself looking for soft pinks. This is rather surprising because pastel pink is my least favorite color … except in the garden.
White flowers can really brighten dark areas in your landscape and can actually be quite relaxing. [See my article Creating a White Garden.] Adding another color, however, can break up the monotony that can sometimes occur with a garden that is all one color. Plants with pink blooms can accomplish this without totally destroying the restful mood set by the use of white. You should be rather selective, however, about the pink flowers you choose to blend with white. Even the palest pink can appear darker when it has a white background. Darker pinks that are actually almost red will become the focal points and dominate your white garden. Therefore, you should also decide just what type of mood you want to set before you go planting pink flowers willy-nilly among your white ones.
Following are some combinations you might want to consider in order to have your pink flowers blend cohesively with your white flowers:
Soft pink and white
I have a shade/scent garden near our outdoor dining table. (This garden actually gets dappled sun, which gives me more leeway in the type of plants I choose.) I planted quite a few white Astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii ‘Bridal Veil’), lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis), and sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). The various hostas in this area also produce white flowers. I acquired some pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) at a plant exchange and decided that it would work just fine in this particular garden. I planted them so the Astilbe served as a backdrop. In addition, the soft texture of the pink evening primrose blended well with the more structural appearance of the Astilbe. You might also consider combining white goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) with a ‘Wargrave’s Pink’ cranesbill (Geranium endressii). For a meadow garden, think common daisies (Bellis perennis) and soft pink cosmos.
Darker pink and white
It is hard to resist bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis). Combine them with Spiraea x vanhouttei, a deciduous shrub with clusters of white flower heads. This same Spiraea or a Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ will also work well with magenta Japanese primroses (Primula sieboldii).
Rose lovers can really have a lot of fun blending pinks and whites. For example, ‘Mme. Hardy’ is a lovely, scented, pure white damask rose. You could plant it in front of the majestic ‘Queen Elizabeth,’ a climber with soft pinkish-white blooms (and quite a specimen in my own rose garden). Plant some old fashioned carnations [see my article The January Flower: Carnation] in front for a garden that is not only relaxing because of the soft pinks and whites but also wonderfully fragrant.
Some other pink flowers to consider:
Yarrow ‘Oretal Petals’
Pink thrift (Armeria maritime)
Daylilies in various shades of pink
Hibiscus in pinks and/or whites