Favorite White Flowered Bulbs--TOW

johngrimshaw@tiscali.co.uk johngrimshaw@tiscali.co.uk
Sat, 01 Jan 2005 05:20:15 PST
The options for a selection of favourite white-flowered bulbous plants are
pretty vast and it would be dificult to choose a limited number.

It seems to me that there is little to beat a white lily, and my first
choice would always be Lilium candidum, whose white has a warmth I don't
find in the Asian species such as L. longiflorum or L. philippinense, and
the most glorious scent. Then there is L. martagon var. album, so cool for
the woodland garden, and if I didn't garden on limestone, L. speciosum
'Album' and many of the oriental hybrids. Perhaps I should grow them in

If I could find a way to do it I would like to plant the woods here with
thousands of Tulipa 'White Triumphator' whose elegant white flowers would
hover through the green of the undergrowth, as the beech trees come into
their own silken green. But how to avoid the snowdrops to do the planting?
'White Triumphator' looks fabulous in the borders anyway and there I like to
precede it with 'Purissima'. Not quite so pure as its name suggests,
'Purissima' starts greenish cream and fades to ivory white, its massive
flowers lasting for weeks if the weather is kind. There are plenty more
white tulips, but these two are my favourites.

Lots of white Narcissus suggest themselves, from the crystalline appearance
of N. cantabricus, flowering in pots now, to the red-eyed N. poeticus in
May, although I would avoid the heavier trumpets such as 'Mount Hood' just
as I do their yellow counterparts, equally inelegant and difficult to place
attractively. Pride of place among the species goes to N. alpestris, with
lop-eared perianth segments and down-pointing trumpet, but alas, mine have
all died out. I am particularly fond of white small cupped daffodils in
Division 3, many of which have a wonderful soft green eye and throat, and a
size and poise of great charm.

It is the green throat that gives so much quality to Colchicum speciosum
'Album', the paragon of autumnal bulbs, and also to the purer white forms of
Arisaema candidissimum. There are any number of good white Crocus, but in
spring C. sieberi 'Bowles White' is hard to beat, retaining its golden
throat. I have found C. goulimyi 'Mani White' to be a very reliable garden
plant, forming a clump and coming up with a good tuft of flowers each
autumn. Such plants occur occasionally in the wild in Greece - I saw one in
the roadside ditch in the centre of the town of Areopolis - but a more
memorable spectacle on the same day was a swathe of the white flowers of C.
boryi across the green grass of some old terraces.

Cyclamen hederifolium v. albiflorum, Nerine "flexuosa" 'Alba', Crinum
xpowellii 'Album' and C. moorei 'Album' are all good. Zantedeschia
aethiopica, growing in immense numbers at the foot of the Sani Pass about
now, or in Cape Town a few months earlier: no doubt about its whiteness!
Trillium grandiflorum. Galtonia candicans. Ornithogalums. Gladiolus
callianthus. Oh, yes, and there are those things called snowdrops...


John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP

Website: http://www.colesbournegardens.org.uk/

More information about the pbs mailing list