Snow in Summer

Imagining Snow

As the temperature rises and it is too hot for gardening I try all manner of things to help me make it through the months of July and August.  I tell myself this is our dormancy period, our non gardening time like the deep winter months in other parts of the country. I try to put my garden records in order noting successful efforts and what to plan for next season.  When I am really desperate I pretend my white flowers are snow!  Once on a visit to San Diego Botanic gardens as I moved from one shady spot to the next I found in full bloom a plant labeled “snow in summer.”  The name just grabbed my attention.  Snow!  Imagining snow in the garden cooled me down.

Many people think a garden of white flowers is designed to reflect the moonlight yet bright moonlight cooperates for only a brief time each month and what if the moon flowers are not yet in bloom?  Compare that to every day imagining white flowers as snow!  It could cool our thoughts and inspire memories of cooler times!

The Munsinger/Clemens Garden in St. Cloud MN  has a “White Garden” filled with every type of white flower imaginable.  Climbing over arbors, spilling from raised urns, lining the pathways are snow drops, snow flakes, snowball bushes, diamond frost, white roses, daisies, blooming white hostas and more creating a formal, romantic garden of cool white flowers.  The St. Cloud White Garden was inspired by the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, England designed in the 1930‘s by poet, novelist, garden writer and  designer Vita Sackville-West. Sissinghurst Gardens are one of the most visited and beloved gardens in the United Kingdom.

Someone thrilled by a visit to Sissinghurst inspired a local community and community leaders, rotary club & Botanical Society to recreate European Style gardens in this country.  Located along the Mississippi River, once the site of an old sawmill this garden didn’t make it into my garden guides.  I found it only by recommendation of a local who insisted it could not be missed and I agree! It provides a treasure of such spectacular blooms that if you are anywhere near the area it is well worth a stop.

Two distinct gardens totaling 21 acres and divided by a small residential street comprise this Minnesota treat.  The Munsinger Garden is the larger informal woodland garden that meanders along the Mississippi River.  Up the hill is the Clemens garden and it features seven formal gardens.  The Virginia Clemens Rose garden is in memory of the garden’s chief benefactor, and there is a perennial garden, a yellow garden, a resting garden and more worth two hours of strolling and enjoying.

If you are traveling this summer and hope to find a garden to invigorate you during your travel look for gardens everywhere!  Ask at visitor information sites and make time to see what you can find.  It is important to recognize that a small garden can be so spectacular and not even register in our usual sources of highway, garden guides and web information. A great website that allows you to search gardens near your travel destinations is, this site based in the United Kingdom, allows you to put in your destination anywhere in the world and then search for gardens or nurseries within the mileage you specify.  It will show you the map and provide the link for the gardens in the area.

I garden with a great deal of serendipity and lack the discipline necessary to define a specific color plan for my own flower garden but to find a fully white flower garden is a spectacular surprise. It is said that Minnesota residents really love their winters, welcoming snow and the activities it provides.  Perhaps as  they wait through their “hot” summer season this garden of snow white flowers represents the season that is most delightful for them.  In the mean time we can plant some white flowers in our garden, dianthus, alyssum and white vinca perhaps  to cool us down in the dormancy period of a Phoenix summer.

originally published in Roots & Shoots


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *