Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Orange Pop

I love the color red but not in the garden...
I hate the color orange but LOVE LOVE LOVE it in the garden...go figure.

The color orange, to me, provides a certain POP in the garden and it not only goes with most colors...maybe pink being the exception, it is the perfect foil to such colors as blue and purple. I am always trying to find plants that are orange...not too many, it should be an accent not overwhelming. What I find to be the perfect orange plant is the lowly impatiens. I use them everywhere, in the garden, in containers, in the pond. As the season progresses, it's not always easy to have a perennial blooming somewhere but you can always count on impatiens and they only get bigger with time.

The top picture was a happy surprise, I didn't plant the impatiens, I have some bird to thank for that...it was a volunteer...it just showed up. It looks great paired with the asparagus fern and below with the abutilon. Though impatiens prefer a shady spot, with sufficient water they will still thrive...the top shot is full sun, the bottom deep shade.

These orange impatiens here were also a happy accident...the first year it happened...since then I have planted orange impatiens in the rocks on the pond falls each year. 

Orange roses are stunning, the top one here is "Pat Austin" a David Austin rose named for his wife,  and the bottom one is my all-time favorite hybrid tea rose "Tropicana"...this photo can't do it justice, it's vibrant in the garden....a real stunner.

Believe it or not these dahlias were on one plant,  both the solid and the striped one...sadly I lost these this winter in the greenhouse after some pesky chipmunks tunneled in and raided my dahlias in storage for the winter...and sadly I don't remember the name anymore.

One of the joys of gardening is to see what comes up that you didn't plant...in this case Red Hot Poker plants...and each year they multiply. I guess all that bird seed is paying for itself since it brings the birds in and they bring in various new plants.

Even a lonely orange geranium can add that needed accent, in this case to my favorite yellow rose.

Nasturtiums are a gardener's dream...they grow easily from seed, you can eat the flowers and they are virtually carefree once established. I believe this one is "Empress of India".

Orange is a great companion to so many colors, one of my favorites is black, as with this sweet potato vine...matched with various coleus and geranium in the back.

Nothing is more vibrant than Tuberous Begonias...here paired with Diamond Frost and, of course, orange impatiens. By the end of the season all three of these plants will be spilling over this concrete basket.

When most people think of orange in the garden, a poppy comes to mind...I wish I had more sun to grow these beauties because they just pop out anywhere in the garden.
Too bad they are so short lived.

These orange tulips were a big surprise to me this year...I had forgot I had planted them...but I will have to move them this fall because of the resident deer.  I planted them close to a large urn hoping they'd be missed...but they were short and were hard to see when the other plants grew up in front of them. These are so spectacular they deserve to be front and center...
and those deer had better keep away.

If you have any doubts about how wonderful orange can be....this grouping I found at Pashley Place in England would put that to rest...could anything be as stunning as these lilies?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Picturesque Patterns in Paths and Fabulous Focal Features

Why settle for a plain path when you can jazz it up with a pattern. 

It doesn't take much effort to make a path more exciting or to create an exciting focal point in the garden...a simple patterned mosaic can be made out of water-worn pebbles of different colors or by adding a multitude of materials for a more complex decoration.

Replacing any random section of path with found objects can make the walkway far more exciting. The easiest material to use is simply pebbles or a decorative tile.

Millstones have been used in patios and pathways for centuries but have recently have come back in vogue. But a simple millstone can be made more exciting with a creative use of stone or other found materials.

If a millstone isn't available, a similar effect can be achieved using modern pavers.

A circle pattern is often used in garden design, here a creative use of bricks and stone not only provides a base for containers but also adds a strong focal point.

Imagine how boring this little alcove would be with just a plain concrete floor.

Whether it's a path or a focal point, it can be made from a crazy quilt of materials, limited only by your imagination.

Though it's hard to see from this angle, this walkway at Great Dixter in England was a couple giant Dachshunds created from a variety of materials. The late Sir Christopher Lloyd, who resided at Great Dixter and a renown garden designer, had a passion for dachshunds.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A place to sit

 Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging determination and single-mindedness -
for what gardener worth
his salt sits down.  I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.

-  Mirabel Osler
Whether it's a place to rest, to sit and admire your work or to enjoy the company of friends, a place to sit is all important in the garden...unfortunately for myself and a lot of gardeners, we seldom make use of the chairs, benches and chaises we have strategically placed in our gardens. Why you might ask...it's because if we take the time to sit and look at our gardens, we don't see what we have done, we see what NEEDS to be done.

When most gardeners think of a garden bench there only one that comes to mind...a Lutyens bench...created by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), often considered the greatest architect of his age. 
(this photo is credited to Restoration Hardware)

The variety of seating is endless, but I have found benches to be the most common, some a weathered gray, some painted, some handmade and all decorative.

Many are nearly hidden from view.

They are places to gather with friends and family.


There are solitary chairs and benches in beautiful settings, perfect places to enjoy a good book.


Imagine having one of these to escape to in a quiet moment.

These stone beauties were surprisingly comfortable.

This bench was totally unique, carved out of a yew hedge into the shape of a sofa with a board placed to sit upon...and as these ladies discovered, a nice place to have lunch.

All the seating shown here were found in various glorious gardens around England.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A change of level

Whether it's short flights of steps or bold terraces, a change in level in the garden gives loads of opportunity for planting and creative decoration.

Abrupt changes in level call for steps, one of the best eye-catching features of any garden. Garden designers have always exploited the visual appeal that steps have. Steps in the garden can be just a few squared timbers, stones or bricks laid straight on the ground to join two shallow terraces or at their most complex a flight of stairs that are a statement of grandeur to link a high terrace with the ground below.

These simple steps made of stone were at the beautiful garden at
West Dean in England.

At this B&B in England the stairs made the transition from lower garden to upper garden.

I love the look of weather brick stairs such as these at Hole Park in England.

Of course any flight of steps can become unstable over time such as these at Igtham Mote in England...but don't you want to see where they lead despite the warning which reads "DANGER Unsafe Masonry Please Keep Off".

Stairs can lead you from garden room to garden room as here at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Wisley in England.

In this case the stairs are what takes you from the driveway to the front of my humble home.

At the gardens at Boyton Court in England these stairs lead from a lower garden back up to the main house which is a spectacular B&B. 

I think the most interesting set of stairs I've found were also at Boyton Court...in this case a set of ordinary steps are transformed into something unique by the water cascading down the center, which flows from the upper terrace through a channel to a pond below.

Of course this magnificent staircase at the garden at Mt Ephraim, in England is by definition pure grandeur.

If there's any doubt that a set of steps don't have to be fancy it's this one at
Emmett's Garden in England.

Of course the one that's hard to beat is this set of stairs at Great Dixter, England, home of one of the greatest garden designers of all time, the late Christopher Lloyd...the lower image seen from above.