Edelweiss grows in the Alps and thrives in Kodiak as one of many white flowers that brighten the gardenscape.

KODIAK — Do you remember the song “Edelweiss” from the “The Sound of Music?” Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Edelweiss” turned out to be one of the most beloved songs in the musical.

I’ve always enjoyed the song, too, and I often play the melody on my harp. In the 1965 film adaptation, the song is sung by Captain von Trapp. (Me, I only sing it when no one’s around!)

Edelweiss is a stubby white flower found high in the Alps. As a curious gardener, I figured that if edelweiss grows in the Alps, maybe it would thrive in Kodiak. So, a few years ago, after ambling around a garden center in Seattle, I picked up a 4-inch container of edelweiss, wrapped a cone of newspaper around it and slipped the plant in my carry-on luggage.

It was the beginning of my appreciation for white flowers.

The best thing about white flowers is that they glow day or night, rain or shine. White goes with everything, as the saying goes. (Unless you’re from New York City, then black goes with everything).



Flower gardens are usually a riot of color. And, color influences how we see and react to things.

For example, to energize your garden — and viewers — plant flowers in shades of red, orange and yellow. On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, you’ll want to calm your landscape — and your attitude — by selecting flowers and plants in shades of blue, purple and green.

For soft colors, go with cool tones. For a blue theme, an all-blue cluster in your garden becomes a comfortable and soothing statement.

But, just like colors can create a moon, so can white. It can make a garden quiet and calm, fancy and formal, or cool and fresh, even on a sunny day.



White flowers reflect light and dark colors absorb it. In the morning and evening, when the light is low, white flowers seem to come toward us while dark colors recede. This is one of the most important garden design tips I learned from Elana White (no pun intended) of Strawberry Fields Nursery.  

White plants in the garden act like beacons, drawing your attention to corners and back areas that are overlooked because they are a distance away or are planted in deep tones of blue, purple or red. 



When it’s warm outside (a rare event in Kodiak, I know), it’s a given that shade provide a welcome escape from the sun — just ask any brown bear. White flowers can be used to accentuate this feeling of coolness.


Here is a partial plant list of white flowering plants:


— Sweet alyssum

— Iceland poppies

— Edible peas

— Petunias

— Gladiolas

— Geranium

— Cosmos

— Dianthus

— Chamomile



— White bleeding hearts

— Delphinium

— Hollyhock

— Foxglove

— Daisies

— Peony

— Snowdrops

— Astilbe

— Yarrow

— Primrose

— Hosta

— Crocus

— Allium

— Edelweiss



— Rhododendron

— Roses

— Cherry

— Crabapple 

— Aronia


Can you see how white blooming plants are wonderful additions to a garden? Still, I think it’s important to remember other elements that also work as white stand-outs. For example, white hanging baskets, bleached driftwood weathered bones. 



To wrap things up, the edelweiss is a popular flower in Austria. So beloved that the flower is protected. In fact, it is illegal to pick it. Today, edelweiss can be seen on the 2 cent Euro coin. As for the blossom-of-snow clump that I smuggled from Seattle, I’m happy to report that every morning it greets me.


Edelweiss, Edelweiss

Every morning you greet me

Small and white, clean and bright

You look happy to meet me

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow

Bloom and grow forever

Edelweiss, Edelweiss

Bless my garden forever 


Remember, if you have a garden question, pop me an email to: mygarden@alaska.net.

Have a great week!

To sign up for Marion’s “Goodness from Kodiak” newsletter, visit her blog at MarionOwenAlaska.com

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