Summer Whites

Last post was about white flowers, specifically white flowers in my garden that bloom in spring. Might as well finish my thought and talk about the white flowers of summer and fall.

DSC_0002 rose 'Cassie'

Let’s start with the roses. As I said in the last post, I prefer white flowers in at least partial shade, but ‘Cassie’ is an exception that is necessary to the rule. Though the flowers are a pure white, they look right at home in a sunny spot. Could be the golden yellow stamens in the center, or their petite size, or the glossy green foliage that accompanies the blooms. This is a rose that starts flowering in early summer and doesn’t let up until October or later.

Rosa 'Sally Holmes'
‘Sally Holmes’.

It occurs to me that all my roses are white, more or less. It may be that I have some Yorkshire heritage I am unaware of.

In any case, ‘Sally Holmes’ grows well in the part shade of our back garden. This is a rose that starts out with pink buds. The flowers open in trusses at first flushed with pink, then fading to a creamy white. A warning about Sally: rabbits will eat her down to the ground if you let them. This year I protected her with hardware cloth, which has been an adequate defense so far.

2014-07-06 12.14.47 rose darlow's enigma
‘Darlow’s Enigma’ is sweetly but not powerfully fragrant.

Also there is the rambler ‘Darlow’s Enigma’, another rose with small semi-double white flowers that is relatively shade tolerant. We have it growing on the back arbor.

2014-08-09 17.34.04 'Italian White sunflower
‘Italian White’ sunflower

‘Italian White’ is my favorite among the annual sunflower (Helianthus anuus) varieties. Whether it should be called white or yellow is debatable, but ‘Italian Yellow’ doesn’t sound nearly as elegant. It is a very pale yellow or a yellowish white, depending on the light and your point of view.


The only other white annuals that we grow are the Impatiens (I. walleriana) and New Guinea Impatiens (I. hawkeri). In summer I aim to have most of the containers in the back garden overflowing with their pearly blooms. Of course these plants come in many other colors, but I enjoy the way white flowers seem to glow in the shade.

DSC_0507 casa blanca

Lilies, even more than roses, are the aristocrats of white flowers. First and foremost, there is the Oriental Lily ‘Casa Blanca’. Such a gleaming ivory white, and those richly textured petals – and that fragrance! This is a lily to swoon over. Plus it seems to do OK growing in part shade

DSC_0863 Smooth Hydrangea

UPDATE: Can’t believe I forgot the ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas! I tend to take them for granted, perhaps because they were all inherited from the last owner.

2012-09-23 white wood aster
White Woodland Aster

Once high summer shifts into fall, there is a new performing cast of white flowers. White Woodland Aster (Symphyotrichum divariticus) is a modest charmer, content to hover in the background.

2012-09-30 honorine jobert
Japanese Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’

Far showier is the Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrida) ‘Honorine Jobert’. Oddly, while this plant is supposed to be pretty aggressive, it seems to be struggling to hang on in our back garden.

What are your favorite white flowers of summer and fall?

50 Comments on “Summer Whites

  1. White Wild Indigo (Baptisia leucantha) in bloom in June and JUly; Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) long bloom time–mid-June through mid-September; and Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) blooming mid-August-early October. Long-blooming native plants atract bees and butterflies.

  2. I like shasta daisy, especially next to a red rose or maroon monarda. I tried to get some white hyacinth going in front of the barberry, but no luck. Maybe white impatiens will work?

    • Works for me. These days there is some danger of blight with the Busy Lizzies, but New Guinea Impatiens are immune. I planted the Lizzies last summer and didn’t have problems.

  3. Beautiful summer flowers. We don’t get a lot of flowering in summer actually, just to hot and humid for the flowers. There are a few, like the Natchez crape myrtles which erupt in blooms around August and the ever faithful White Trailing lantana which has blooms 9 months a year. I love the open faced old roses!

  4. Your description of your white roses almost make me want to grow some. They are pretty. I have that Anemone and it reseeds and moves around quite a bit. It is beautiful. I have a white lily with a yellow throat that does really well in shade. I don’t remember the name of it. There is a white aster that has taken up residence in my front garden uninvited. I leave it there tho. It is pretty.I have a huge white bearded iris and a couple of different Japanese iris that are white. That is about it with the white flowers.

  5. I too, have Casa Blanca lilies and the white Japanese anemone (also well-behaved for me). Also I my garden: Iceberg rose, Shasta daisy, oak leaf and tardiva hydrangeas, leucojum, white clematis (variety?). Lots of trees — Stewartia (white with a pinkish blush), fringe tree, dogwood, serviceberry, mock orange. More white than I had at first thought!

  6. I would never have said I was a white flower lover, but, in acutality, I have had a lot of them in my gardens, most notably roses, clematis, iris, hosta, arenaria, gardenias, hydrangeas, azaleas….

  7. Oh, those roses! And seeing the arrangement in the wheelbarrow, I just might go with white impatiens in the shade this year. Thanks, Jason!

      • You’ve got me thinking about white. Lots of shade at the little house in the big woods—no surprise! White impatiens. I’m also thinking of white begonias. I usually go with red begonias, and I won’t abandon them, but I’ll be giving special thought to the white.

  8. Love ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ – it does well in partial shade and never stops blooming; happy to see someone else growing it. I have mostly white flowering plants in a wide crescent bed at the bottom of my garden where it is partially shaded by the woods. A stand of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is a show stopper there in June and July; by August, Rose of Sharon ‘Diana’ blooms nearby. I love white flowers and am enjoying your posts about them!

    • There is a gigantic ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I hope mine doesn’t get that big. It really won’t quit with the blooming.

  9. Your summer whites are gorgeous! I love ‘Cassie’ and ‘Sally Holmes’, and your Oriental lilies. I have white wood aster and and ‘Honorine Jobert’ and like them very much.

    My favorite whites are Baptisia alba, summer phlox ‘David’, dogwood, fringetree, serviceberry, mockorange, rose ‘Sir Thomas Lipton’ and peony ‘Festiva Maxima’.

    • I have fringetree, but they’re not big enough yet to put on a major display. I did have Phlox ‘David’, but I gave it away. Although beautiful, it just didn’t fit into our garden.

  10. Sorry, I just realized that I listed several spring whites! For summer and fall I wanted to include daylily ‘Meriam White’, crinums, white wood aster, frost aster, calico aster.

    • White lilies are very special. I know what you mean about regal, the flowers have a sumptuous quality, and the stems are tall and elegant.

  11. My Casa Blancas were happy in the shade for years, then disappeared. The new ones, planted in sun, are far less vigorous. It would be sad to live without them. I wait all year for ‘Honorine de Jobert’ to make her appearance.

  12. I’m not that interested in white flowers in spring, when I’m kind of sick of white and looking for intense pops of color. But summer is another matter. I have white goatsbeard, peonies, astilbe, bowman’s root, siberian irises, and delphinium blooming in early summer. While I enjoy all of those, it is in late summer, when yellows predominate in my garden, that I really appreciate the way white flowers (of Liatris ‘Floristan White’ and Phlox planiculata ‘David’ and soon some Casablanca lilies) make the garden look fresh again.

    • I have goatsbeard, too, both the big native and the dwarf. ‘David’ is stunning,but it didn’t really fit in the garden so I gave it away.

  13. we have Japanese Anemone growing in a shady spot, and it is lovely to have in summer and autumn, makes me cool just looking at it.

  14. I love the look of that sunflower. Gorgeous. My favourite white flower that we grew last summer was Ammi majus – very beautiful and pollinating insects love it.

    • ‘Italian White’ is nice also because it is very multi-branched and just keeps blooming. The seeds are small, but loved by goldfinches.

  15. I adore white roses of any kind. The white lilies you show are stunning, too – I love to look at the different varieties of lilies. We have a lily garden in the Finger Lakes called Grace Gardens.

  16. I love that white anemone! The only white flowers I have in late summer are Achillea, and the odd wild aster here and there if they have self-seeded. My favourite late spring/ early summer white flowers are the Philadelphus.

  17. I also love the way white flowers light up a wooded area. I use a lot of white impatiens for that purpose. I think my favorite summer white is Penelope rose. Summer is a bad time for most flowers here with our heat, but Penelope will put out lovely blooms in early summer and again as soon as the heat begins to let up in September. And Limelight hydrangea blooms gloriously through the hottest part of summer.

  18. I have white roses, goatsbeard, peonies, astilbe, bowman’s root, siberian irises, and white alliums blooming in early summer. In late summer I have White Daylilies, Phlox planiculata ‘David’ and some Casablanca lilies. In the fall I can only think of the Boltonia asteroides.

  19. The only thing you didn’t refer to was the fact that white flowers look wonderful at dusk, perhaps when you’re sitting outside with a little ‘sun-downer’? White make the evening seem illuminated and to last just a little bit longer.

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