Texture

texture1Texture is such an exciting element in plants-and plantings.  Defined by Wikipedia as “an identifying quality”, or the “appearance and feel of a surface”, the texture of a plant can be about its appearance.  Some plants are shiny leaved; some have felted leaves.  Some leaves and flowers are thin (sometimes referred to as “substance”) and some are thick and juicy looking. Some leaves are wisy and airy looking-others are big and broad-and look as though even a big wind wouldn’t disturb them. This kale is ultra-crinkled-beautiful.

texture2Texture can also refer to how a plant feels to the touch-who could resist touching this scotch moss?  Contrasting textures can make for a lot of excitement in a planting-but even the relationship of one small texture to another can be interesting. 

texture3Some plantings where all the textures read similarly encourage focus on color, or mass.  The choice of plants very much dictates what about a plant or planting becomes the dominant element.  This box of grass, euphorbia Diamond Frost, thyme and sedum has that casual roadside weed look to it.  You notice the blue of the sedum first off, as the textures of all the plants are so similar.  There is a whole story here about little leaves. 

texture4Malabar spinach has thick, substantial leaves that are glossy and wrinkled.  This texture reads all the more strongly for its pairing with the diminuitive felted stems and leaves of lime licorice. 

texture5The hunky, toothy, slighting menacing leaves of this cardoon are softened by the much less architectural “Dallas Blues” panicum grass-and the so sweet blue petunias.  The cardoon has a felted leaf-the panic grass is smooth and shiny.  Those blue petunias are along for the ride-and soften much the architecture of the cardoon-and the pot.

texture6Large flowers like zinnias and petunias have a simple texture, while its companion grass has a complex, texture-like fireworks. Diametrically opposed to this delicately textured grass, caladiums and this lime dieffenbachia have leaves so thin and so wide the sun shines through them; it looks like the lights are on in this very shady spot.  Identifying what about a particular plant you like will help a lot to inform your design with them.  Everyone knows texture.  Its the process of being conscious of it that can help make for inspired plantings .

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Sunday Opinion:Beautiful Brits

I am a fan of British gardening publications.  Gardens Illustrated, published by the BBC, is my favorite. Edited by Juliet Roberts, I am in possession of all 149 issues that have been published since 1993.  In addition to their special features  (the May issue of course previews the Chelsea show), they cover plants, people, places, design and events.  The photography is superb.  Its range of coverage is quite good; for the plant person this month, a discussion of  Umbellifers-plants that bloom in umbels.  There is an excellent presentation of the color blue in gardens.  An article about a visit to Drift End in Suffolk  entitled “Dream Landscape”,  absorbs my interest, and delights my eye.  This magazine, more than any other I read,  is a gardener’s gardening magazine.  Focused on plants, garden history, people, and contemporary gardens, and everything in between, I not only read it-but I save the issues, and re-read.  The June issue, available May 28, is their 150th issue celebration, focusing on cottage gardens-don’t miss it.  .

The British Country Living is not a gardening magazine per se-its a “lifestyle magazine”  that manages not to digress into discussions of  chic trends and what’s cool. It has a genuine feeling.  It is simply and sturdily enthusiastic about country living. They celebrate what’s made, raised and grown in the British Isles.    When I finish an issue, I am ready to fork it all over, move to the country, raise lavender, make cheese, and tend Jacob’s four-horned sheep;  I am convinced this world is a good one.  The cover of the June issue is a marvelous study in pink roses-“A Rosy Outlook” they call it. On deck, inside-honey and bread-making for beginners,  and making the most of fish.  I am the furthest thing possible from a cook, but I read with great interest the story of the fishing industry of Cardigan Bay in Wales  (well, ok, I do have Cardigan Welsh Corgis)-down to the recipe for rollmopped herrings and mackerel. I am convinced beyond a doubt this dish would taste great-seasoned with the history of these fisheries.   This magazine is so well done-you will be transported.  

Some days, Sundays in particular, I like being transported for just a little while,  to another place, or another time.  These magazines are just the thing for this weary June gardener.

At a Glance- Summer Orange

New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea Impatiens

Dahlia

Dahlia

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Coleus

Geranium

Geranium

Coleus

Coleus

Sculpture in the Garden-an Addendum

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Sculpture in a garden is a big topic, which I am sure will surface again and again in my writings.  Defining a sculpture can be very much about the environment in which it is placed.  It is my opinion that some sculpture absolutely relies on its environment,  in order to earn the the honored designation-sculpture.  Some sculpture I see in galleries, or museums, I would never see as sculpture-but for the gallery or museum address. Some landscape sculpture has been documented in photographs- often this sculpture is more about the moment of the photograph, than the sculpture itself. I own every book ever published about the work of Andy Goldsworthy-but many of his sculptures are ephemeral such that they are not really sculpture in a classical sense.  The photographs of his works are as much art as the works themselves. But his work makes me rethink my definitions-this is a good thing to come from looking at art.   I buy books regularly, and I read a lot.  Its exciting to see contemporary garden sculpture-what a departure it is from classical sculpture. As I am willing to be surprised, I try to temper my sense of sculpture with a big dose of what I see, and what I am asked to do.  This seems to work.   

 

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Earth sculptures have a huge history; what gardener does not know something about crop circles?  What 20th century landscape designer has not given serious thought to sculptures of earth, covered in some living skin?  What landscape designer, since the day that someone thought to design landscapes, doesn’t see when the landscape transcends horticulture and becomes sculpture?  What gardener has not been interested in Stonehenge, and every Stonehedge counterpart documented world wide?   I am not a first rate scholar on the history of garden sculpture-I am just a somewhat educated landscape designer with a big interest in garden sculpture.

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I am strictly a supporting cast, where the sculpture of my clients is concerned.  I look at what they buy, and if I am lucky, they will pile things up, move things around-and talk about what moves them. 

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Contrary to the garden sculpture placed in Europe ever since the formal garden got its name, some sculptures are ephemeral, moveable-here today-elsewhere tomorrow. These Belgian hazelwood spheres, piled up into a boxwood hedge-who does not appreciate the gesture?

 

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These birds once graced the roof of the Palais Royale in Paris. This would be the better part of two centuries ago.  What remains of them is their wrought iron armatures, and their hand-wrought feet.  This pair of ancient birds are the most spectacular sculptures I have ever seen.  They have such incredible presence, though little remains of their original shape.  They are so powerful in their shape and their bearing , though little of their ornament remains.  What landscape would do justice to them?

капельный полив

системы автоматического полива

офисный ковролин