The White Garden

oakleaf-hydrangea-blossoms-jpg.jpgThe White Garden is one of the most beautiful and engaging of the Springfield Botanical Gardens in Springfield, Missouri.
     Inspired by a visit from Major and Marthe Close to the renown all-white garden of Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst Castle in England, the Garden blends many remarkable varieties of annual flowers, perennial flowers, shrubs, and trees with blossoms all in white.
      It was first created in 2005 by Dr. Bill Roston and is today beautifully maintained by members of the Pink Dogwood Garden Club.
      As well as providing great beauty, the White Garden is truly a memorial garden, as you will see.
      The Springfield Botanical Gardens can be seen at 2400 S. Scenic in Springfield.

The Beginning

The site of the White Garden in 2005, all prepared and ready for planting. On the other side of the trees lies the beautiful Close Memorial Park Hosta Garden, another major attraction for visitors.

New Plantings

On July 2nd, the beds were still being planted, but the garden was taking shape.


For those unfamiliar with the Ozarks, it might be hard to believe that the garden could show so much growth by July 13th, less than two weeks later.

New Beds

These beautifully designed beds, slightly raised and sloping, adjoin the Close Hosta Garden. This photo was taken July 2nd.

Spring Work

Elaine Vask keeps up these two flower beds in the garden. "I'm just a volunteer," she says modestly.

In Bloom

More of the phenomenal plant growth we see in the Ozarks--scarcely five weeks later, on August 10th, the same beds have come into full bloom.

Three Neat Beds

At the forefront of the White Garden, these three beds are of different shapes.


The rectangular design of these beds is a good example of the formal garden design that predated the more fluid and natural garden design of today. It's almost a history lesson, and we suspect it's not by accident.

All in White

This bed has a very pleasing curvilinear shape and a marvelous variety of plants, including phlox, petunias, sage, dusty miller, begonias, ox-eye daisy, and more--all in pristine white. Other plants in the garden that display white blossoms include impatiens, geraniums, Lenten rose, astilbe, Solomon's Seal, azalea, and lilac.


A better look at the marvelous Phlox in the White Garden. We're not sure, but we think this is the variety 'David' (Phlox paniculata 'David'), a highly fragrant variety that in 2002 was honored as Perennial Plant of the Year and is prized for its fullness of bloom and ease of care.

White Dahlias

The White Garden's Dahlias are among its most striking denizens, with their deep green foliage and generous, pristine double flowers. We think this is the beloved variety 'Fleural', which grows to 32 inches tall and 18 inches wide and blooms abundantly in full sun or partial shade from July until frost.

The Arbor

The centerpiece of the White Garden is this beautiful metal arbor, and the light at the end of the tunnel is the Close Memorial Park Hosta Garden.

The Memorial

Inside the arbor a plaque commemorates Ann Close, a beloved civic leader who so loved people that she established a trust that continues to fund the botanical gardens in Close Memorial Park.

The Pink Roses

Ann Close's love for pink is realized in the arbor's roses.

The 'Clair Martin' Rose

The pink rose is the 'Clair Martin' rose (Rosa MELmont 'Clair Martin'). a vigorous, free-flowering climbing rose that bears clusters of sweetly fragrant, cup-shaped pink blossoms all season long, a fittingly lovely tribute to Ann Close.

A Touch of Color

The 'Clair Martin' rose strikes a lovely note of color amidst snowy begonias.

'Wild Spice' Rose

On both sides of the arbor is the 'Wild Spice' rose (Rosa JACruwhi 'Wild Spice'). A compact hybrid Rugosa rose, it's hardy, vigorous, and has an upright growth habit. The flowers are four inches wide, white with lovely yellow centers, and strongly fragrant. Beautiful orange-red hips appear in the fall. The plant can reach 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide and, like all Rugosa roses, also makes a superb hedge.

Wedding Decor

The arbor decorated for a wedding about to be held at a water feature in the Hosta Garden. The site forms a beautiful setting for weddings, and the space can be reserved for such by the public by calling the Springfield-Greene County Park Board at 417-864-1049.

Rose Mallow

One of the White Garden's most striking plants is this Rose Mallow, with the whitest petals imaginable and a crimson eye. In fact, we think it might be Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), a native plant in Missouri. It's shown with some very pretty Vincas, also white with crimson eyes.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

A commanding presence in the White Garden, this Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). towers some 7 feet tall and is covered with spikes of white flowers up to a foot long. In the fall its oak-like leaves will turn red, purple, and burgundy.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Blossoms

A closer look at the Oakleaf Hydrangea blossoms.

'Annabelle' Hydrangea

Thought by some gardeners to be the most beautiful of the white hydrangeas, 'Annabelle' (Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle') is very low maintenance and can be spectacular with morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled shade throughout the day. (With hot afternoon sun, the plant will not die, but the blossoms are shorter-lived.) It grows 3-5 feet tall with a 4-6 foot spread.

White Sage

This engaging plant with pristine white flowers is most likely Victoria White Sage (Salvia farinacea 'Victoria White'), a dwarf sage that grows to 2 feet tall and blooms profusely from summer till frost. It's densely branched, upright, and especially effective in mass plantings and behind smaller flowers. It likes full sun and can take some drought. Deadheading increases bloom.

It Takes Work

It takes a world of work to create and maintain special gardens, and Joey Nash volunteers a good bit of it to help keep the White Garden beautiful.

...And More Work

Major Close, Ann Close's son, Joey's grandfather, and a great benefactor of the Springfield Botanical Gardens makes sure everybody gets a drink. Major's contributions to the gardens are too numerous to list here, and they include hands-on care.

In Honor

Major Close's contributions to the White Garden, and indeed to all of the Springifeld Botanical Gardens and the Botanical Center, have been so many and so crucial to the success of the Gardens that he is honored by this bronze statue depicting him as he's often been seen, working in the garden and surrounded by flowers. The statue, a great favorite in the park, is the work of sculptor James Hall.

The New Season

Edged in white daffodils, the new White Garden greeted its second season.

A Most Unusual Display

We'd never seen a sprinkling of just-white-hyachinths until we happened upon this spring scene in the White Garden in early spring.

A Spectacular Native
Its profusion of creamy white, cloudlike flowers in May and June has some people convinced that the Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is Missouri's most spectacular native tree. Deciduous, it's found in moist woodlands and on hillsides, stream banks, glades, and bluffs. In the wild it can reach 30-35 feet tall, but in landscapes normally grows from 12 to 20 feet tall and wide. Common names include Old Man's Beard and Grancy Gray-Beard.

Fringe Tree Up Close

A much closer look at the Fringe Tree and the amazingly fine texture of its flowers.

Sargent Crabapple

This amazing landscape tree is Sargent Crabapple, whose flowers begin with pink buds and open up pristine white. As you can see, it blooms profusely and also has a beautiful shrub-like habit.

Sargent Crabapple Up Close


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