White does nothing for me. 12 years of wearing a white uniform blouse to school might be responsible. I can honestly say I haven’t worn a white blouse since the last day of high school. White walls appear unfinished to me, unless we’re talking about those on a ‘65 Lincoln Continental (be still my beating heart). But white flowers; that’s a different story.
I can’t get enough of white blossoms. The lack of color distills the form and shape of the flower, and the stamen and carpel stand out. Shrubs deliver some of the best white blooms–Viburnum, Philadelphus, Hydrangea, and one of my favorites, Deutzia. Deutzia are infinitely easy in sun or part shade, tolerant of drought once established and all of the Deutzia I’ve tried get big quick. When they bloom; they don’t mess around.
My Deutzia scabra ‘Pride of Rochester’ has far exceeded the 8’ width I originally anticipated. It’s flowering now, the double flowers loose and cascading. Deutzia crenata var. nakaiana ‘Nikko’ has finished flowering–the small scale ground covering form is fresh and it has the easy going nature of the genus. Deutzia longifolia is touted to have pink on the outside of the petals, but it looks pure white to me.
I like to clip the short flower racemes to place in a squat vase. When arranged as such the look is decidedly old fashioned and it’s it saves having to crush the woody ends of the longer stems so they will take up water.
The best attribute of any white flowering shrub is the appearance at dusk; reflecting the last of the day’s light in its petals. On early summer evenings, a blooming Deutzia appears to glow as though a halo surrounds this heavenly shrub–lovely, low tech landscape lighting.
© Colleen Miko, 2011