Yes, you can create the flower garden of your dreams. We have summarized four new titles covering flower gardening and designing with color in the garden for your library. May we suggest you pick up one or all four of them as you start thinking about next year’s dazzling displays? Because we are gardeners, that’s what we do.
Jenny Rose Carey leaves no leaf unturned, enabling you to create your vision of paradise. The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Guide: How to Combine Shape, Color, and Texture to Create the Garden of Your Dreams (Timber Press, $29.95) has descriptions of more than 170 different flowers and sets the stage for a zillion combinations for anyone, anywhere. Her premise: Flower gardens are as individual as the person who creates them.
An excellent reference book for beginning gardeners and those with decades of dirt under their nails, Jenny Rose gives good advice for locating your garden no matter your growing conditions – shade, part shade, full sun, and garden bed shapes and arrangements. Are you lusting for a formal garden? How about a rambunctious, overflowing cottage garden? Are you starting a new cutting garden, dear Flower Farmer? Do you like hazy gardens with punctuation marks and show stoppers? Buttons and daisies, or cool and relaxing gardens?
I especially liked Jenny Rose’s section called: “Looking for Flower Garden Inspiration,” in which she encourages us to go through magazines, and to frequent friends’ gardens, public gardens, and as many gardens as you can visit throughout the year. Take notes and pictures everywhere. Begin by using this book as a reference tool and you will be on your way.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed The Flower Yard: Growing Flamboyant Flowers in Containers (Arthur Parkinson, Kyle Books, $26.99). Every blossom, hen, and dolly tub, as well as the author himself, are joys to behold. The container plantings are 110% attainable whether you have five of them or what Arthur calls “archipelagos of galvanized metal and terra cotta.” He cites Persian carpets, which symbolized heaven on earth, as inspiration and uses terms like “defiant” and “ornamental wild.” Whatever he wants to call this style, I am all in. Referring to the plantings as living vases is a perfect description. He describes Dahlia ‘Soulman’ with “dark mulberry-jam middles radiating out to velvet magenta petals.” YUM. Arthur talks a bit about his hens, his beloved Nana, songbirds, and cutting flowers. He is passionate about companion plantings for dahlias, encouraging pollinators, discouraging the use of peat, applauding the virtues of homemade compost, and embracing color. Late in the season, he takes the garden indoors (I’ve already ordered my amaryllis for November),
As a side note, I am particularly enamored of this “living vase” style of planting. We are on our second week of 100-degree temperatures in Idaho, and we live where water is expensive. It seems fool-hardy to water borders, and I feel better using the water I have access to for growing tomatoes and fruit. An archipelago of flamboyant containers is my next undertaking.
Arthur works with his friend, Sarah Raven of Perch Hill Garden in East Sussex, England, and they have a podcast, “Grow, Cook, Eat, & Arrange.” He can also be found on CreateAcademy.com online. Follow Arthur Parkinson: @arthurparkinson_.
While we bask in a riot of summer color, let’s consider Jo Thompson’s book of jewels, written on behalf of the Royal Horticulture Society: The Gardener’s Palette: Creating Colorful Harmony in the Garden (Timber Press, $45.00).
A renowned landscape designer, Ms. Thompson uses the official RHS Colour (color) Chart of 920 plant colours (colors). No small undertaking, she whittled them to a mere 100 “palettes,” ranging from “strawberries and cream, with a drop of wine,” to “your red is my green” and every possible combination in between.
My favorite: Blue Heaven (shown above). An overview of the planting is presented in all its glory – in this case, asters, molinia and panicum – while the individual plants are teased out on the facing page in comprehensive detail. Truly a garden lover’s jewel box of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Exquisite references accompany many of the combinations such as a photo of the Taj Mahal at sunset, a painting by Seurat, and quotes by Georgia O’Keefe. With a profound command of color and history, Ms. Thompson waxes poetically about colors harmonizing, dazzling subtleties, and “magentaphobia.” This is a must-have reference book full of inspiration.
Follow Jo Thompson; @jothompsongarden
Sometimes we need a set of fresh eyes on our gardens. The Seasonal Gardener: Creative Planting Combinations, by Anna Pavord (Phaidon Press, $49.95) is just the ticket. Some of you may have a copy of her original title, Plant Partners, penned some twenty years ago. This is an extensive update with the inclusion of hard working shrubs, many new salvias, and an appreciation for the importance of pollinators and wildlife in our gardens.
Anna has put together 60 primary combinations, beginning with a “star performer” and adding two ideal partners. As a garden grows through the seasons, so does the book, beginning with Signs of Spring, as Spring Turns to Summer, High Summer and into Autumn. The “stars” were chosen for their beauty as much as their durability across climates and soils.
There’s more! If the combos aren’t quite enough, there is a compendium of additional plants in addition to the “ideal partners”, expanding the range of each star performer. Pavord has long been a beloved voice of horticulture, especially with her brilliant tome The Tulip. This is another fine example her wealth of horticulture knowledge, her catchy way with words, and most importantly, her devotion to gardening.