Showing posts with label Style. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Style. Show all posts

July 24, 2007

About Color and Planning

OK....I admit it....I really never, ever took the time to either create color palettes or plan any garden in my life before. I'm not really a planner, more of an, well, artist, I guess. I like to believe that I act spontaneously to influences....that brilliance just will happen, as if a devine creative gift such as being a designer, allows one the freedom to create....randomly. But I was wrong. With age, I have to admit that this theory of simply spewing out stuff generally results in, well, spew. Maybe that theory worked before there was SO MUCH to influence us...maybe it worked, let's say, in another period...like victorian, or arts & crafts, or even modernism in the seventies......but today, when jsut about anything goes, and when most everything is available to most everyone, all at the same time, there is a much greater risk of chaos, visually speaking, anyway. Random influence is dangerous, we all must stop it.

So welcome to some of the beds this year, where I am excercising restraint. I'm calling it ' practicing thoughtful research' ...and yes...it's still, quite creative, and even artistic since now, I am actually following a well-thought out and well researched color palette, but experimenting with various plant materials that may or may not be combined together normally. There are fine lines between such rules, since one must follow a foundational structure that limits plant material such as exposure, hardiness, etc....but since I happen to have a greenhouse, and I am more than willing to let a tropical plant die in the garden, as well as choose to dig it up in two months and lug a tub into the greenhouse for the winter, I might as well play with what new options I really have. I also considered, or tossed aside such things as texture and provenance - (i.e. tropical plants may or may not work with temperate evergreens, for instance). This experimentation doesn't come easy, it helps, I feel, to have a horticultural knowledge as well as an artistic one....yet these rules are ment to be broken at time, it sometimes is painfully clear when one experiments without prior knowledge. (in chef-speak- the whole cilantro may or may not go with cinnamon sort of thing).

So I made some color rules. First, I wanted to go beyond what I was seeing in the trendy gardening magazines, or what was being suggested for combination at my local garden centers. SInce I am first, an artist, color, naturally comes, well, naturally to me. Now, granted, not everyone likes my style and taste. But I wanted to also avoid the BIG rules that one often see's women following simply because it's all they know....."I want blue hydrangeas at my wedding"...."I can only plant blue and silver in my english garden" or "I must have sunflowers since I saw them on a cover of martha Stewart Living". Now, chill out, believe me, I am porbobly a greater fan of Martha Stewart that any of you could dare to be, but you must also understand that most likely, Martha herself is beyond sunflowers and blue hydrangeas at this moment....instead, most likely, she is experimenting and discovering such new plant trends as Crocosmeas and Corydalis. One shoud choose a plant because of more peprsonal reasons that how your neighbors will think of you.....sure, I love blue hydrangeas, as a beach house, in front of a bungalo, they have thier place. Choose plant material for the location.

December 25, 2006

Holiday Blooms

Tis the season.
But here in New England, even though, as I miss-informed you in my last posting about the zone changes (I really need to do my homework better!), it still has been an warmer than average winter, by at least twenty degrees. Hardly a white Christmas. Regardless, here are some shots from around the house today,overcast, but still festive, even though it was near 45 deg., F.

I collect vintage bottle brush trees, here is a view of some of the collection on the piano. Most are early to mid twentieth century. The older, the better I say.

The Japanese camellia 'Tama No Ura' also blooms at this time every year. I grow this in a Chinese pot, but it it still doesn't seem to mind. The blossoms are very seasonal for this time of year, and I have never had such a nice budset.

In the dining room, the feather tree is decorated with vintage ornaments, and some of the many crosses of Clivia are starting to bloom, here, three new crosses from Mr. Nakamura's visit, all are Clivia miniata x gardenii. One has impressive green tips on the flowers.

August 4, 2006

Staying Cool with Stylish White

Gardenia blossoms smell better in the moist summer air

If gardenias were wine, connoisseurs would advise that to appreciate the deep, rich, complexity of the scent, one must enhale the blosson in a moist bouyant atmosphere to atruly appreciate it's balance. So, with near 100% humidity here in the New England area of the States, I'd say we are ready for GArdenia tasting. It is this very moist air which not only triggers the potted Gardenia plants to bloom, which have been relovated outside for the summer, but it also brings a certain quality to the rich scent, a quality that somehow makes it more acceptable to those who find it cloying, and a quality which enhances the scent for those of us who love it, like I do.
I think that we may have the largest Gardenia tree in the world. Well, we know it is not, but for a plant that is regarded as fussy to grow in a container, our plant is six feet tall and wide (see inset with Fergus). Each summer is gifts us with hundreds of blossoms, one time over a hundred at one time in bloom. No special treatment fo this old plant,it just gets shoved out in the summer, and pulled back into the Greenhosue for the winter. Sure, the greenhouse helps, but it barely makes it though the winter since it is a trap for scale, aphids and mealy bug. It is the first plant to get any of these. The plant was gifted to us (rescued?) from friends who had kept the plant in thier home during the winters near Boston, so ir's not as it one needs greenhouse conditions. Basically, it doesn't go dry, it rarely has wilted, and occaisional root pruning and repotting has kept the beast healthy.

A pure white Agapanthus stands out in the mid-summer heat

Commonly seen in blue, hence,it's common name, the Blue Lily of the Nile, (although Violet Lily of the Nile might be more accurate to a colorist),I think that this striking white form of Agapanthus is just as quite impressive. This unknown cultivar of ours, was bought (on sale in the winter) at a lage Boston gardencenter without a tag, just because it had beautiful wide foliage. It surprised us to be an excellent form of a "alba' selection, most likely a cultivar from one of the larger plant breeding wholesalers in California like Monrovia or something. Who care what name it has, it still has gigantic flower heads, the size of basketballs and larger even then the purple cultivar called Thunderhead.

I can't say that I have mastered growing agapanthus yet. They dop well enough now that we have the greenhouse, but with nearly ten cultivars in the collection, and a few species like A. inapertus, only two have decided to bloom this year, and last year, the others all bloomed. They all are growing profusely, it just seems that the rest tok the year off. As South African bulb-like plants, although they do not go dormant, they do still get a dry half of the year and a wet, growth time of year. It may be a simple adjustment as dryer and cooler in the winter and perhaps more frequent repotting since they are all quite root bound now.

Although it has been easier with the addition of the greenhouse. I know that many garden writers advise to simply pot them up in tubs or large pots, and after thier summer bloom, drag them to a cool garage or cellar, and let them go semi dormant, at least in the colder parts of the world, like Zone 5 and lower. What's up with this advice? I wonder if they ever have really grown any of the plants that they write about? OR do they just research on-line and repeat poor advice? When I become a garden writer, ( someday) I will promise to write only about those plants which I have mastered or failed with, reporting my successes and advice with authentic accuracy, not acquired information which is second hand, at best.

Fresh Green Papyrus adds balance to white flowers in arrangements and in the garden
I love Papyrus, and the I keep a few species that also go out in the summer, into tubs of water. The cut stems are stylish, in arrangements, and long lasting.

July 31, 2006

Summer Variegation

July variegation ranges from stripes, to spots
Stong and violent thunderstorms blew through our garden last evening, drenching the plants with natures Gatorade. These nitrogen-rich summer showers inject new life into foliage, and followign a rain shower is the best time to observe foliage in its element. . The quenching summer showers that precede cold fronts, in our area of the U.S. also blow out the white, hazy sky's and humid temperatures, leaving behind a fresh, buoyant and cobalt sky that promises a brilliant and refreshingly cool morning.

It might even be a small factor that the air conditioner in the bedroom is finally off, and one can sleep better, or perhaps it's just morning chorus of songbirds and their vociferous attempts to lure lusty mates at 5:00 AM for maybe a try at a second clutch for the summer. But mostly, one feels the need to rise early since there is nothing quite like the garden, after a soaking summer rain.
Bare feet soaked in dew, cold grass clipping stuck between toes and mosquitoes who presumably are hung-over after a busy,hot night on the town, all makes for an experience that only comes a few days during the summer. The clarity and freshness of the atmosphere makes everything sparkle, and as a fan of unusual and rare plants, I have to admit that even the variegated foliage looks beautiful.

I'm not afraid to say it, I just don't care for variegation in most plants. Sure, there are those who like such anomaly's. Just as there are others who like to collect Crested growths and contorted sports, to me, it;s the same as saying that one like to collect tumors and pre-cancerous moles. OK, a stretch, I know....But regardless, indeed some variegation is just a step away from becoming a virus.

However, on this morning, I started cutting some variegation leaves after seeing how striking a new Brugmansia was looking outside of the greenhouse after being spared, this time, by hail piecing it's cream and green foliage. After reading a Martha Stewart Living magazine over a Starbucks this morning, I was inspired by a striking and beautiful photograph which accompanied an article on Canna. So I grabbed my camera, and without the aid of a few assistants, filters or stylists, I attempted to see what I could collect around the property, limiting myself to a green and white palette (No coleus allowed).

Maybe for another posting! :)