" To plant trees is to give body and life to one's dreams of a better world " Russell Page

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dark Queens and Black Knights

 The quest for Black Flowers started when I came across the Black Garden in the Jardin de l'Alchymiste near Avignon. There they have a quite interresting "room" all dedicated to the colour black - all planted with glossy Aeoniums. This was the starting point of my inquiery into the realm of black plants - and indeed I was quite surprised of how many there are by now.
Obviously the petals embrace shades ranging from dark purple to chocolate or ink blue, since nature abhores absolute blackness, but on the whole the result is pretty amazing.
To make it short, I have scribbled one of my many whish lists. I've called it the "Dark Queens and Black Knights" list of black velvety blooms and leafs. They are a touch pretentious - I admit, since all black robes remind of exquisite soirèes and maybe they are not very easy to marry in the garden, nevertheless they emanate a great deal of sophistication .

 The Black Garden "l'Oeuvre au Noir" at the Jardin de l'Alchymiste

The Black Bulbs and spring flowers:

 Tulips : Queen of Night and Black Parrot

 Fritillaria Persica and Meleagris

 Black Pansies, Helleborus Niger, Iris Black Knight, Camelia "Dark Rider"

The Summer Blooms:

 Dahlias Black Jack and Arabian Night
 Hemerocallis Jungle Beauty
 Hollyhock Black Magic
 Iris Black Swan
Aquillegia Black Barlow

Cosmos Chocolate 

The Black Leaves:
Ajuga Reptans
 Heuchera Chocolate Ruffles
 Coleus Black Dragon
 Sambucus Niger
Clematis Recta purpurea

 Ophiopogon Planiscapus Niger ( maybe the blackest of all)

The Edible Blacks:
 Basilicum Black Opal
 Chilli Black Pearl
 Italian Kale - Cavolo Nero Toscano
 Black Cabbage

To be honest I could have gone one and one in my quest for dark plants...  There are inky petunias , Nasturziums called Black Velvet, poppyies and many more of them out there, but I prefer to quit here with two book titles for those who want to dive into the dark realm of plants.
Since we have a LBD in our closet to make us feel chic, why not try something dark in the garden too?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Formal gardens with a modern twist II

Though not a formal garden as such, Bryan's Ground in Herefordshire offers some truly amazing details of formal planning. I am referring to certain details in the riguorous and geometrical apple orchard, the sinouus  but otherwise very clean brick borders of the basin and the green alleys of clipped and trimmed boxes and laurels.

The garden is structured in several green chambers, with different moods, most corners are beautiful examples of  English landscape with lavish clematis and campanulas in a symphony of lavender and pale blue hues.

But what impresses me most, is the orchard. Each tree is cleanly embeded in a rectangle of pale blue Iris sibirica "Papillion" set in a carpet of soft trimmed lawn. There is a riguorous Elizbethan planting layout of the trees, but the Iris rectangles add definitely a contemporary twist. The effect is crisp and elegant.

 After the admittedly short flowering period of the Irises, the sword like leaves still form square cushions  underneath the apple canopy.


On one side, the orchard ends with this sinuous brick festooned pool which echoes the meanders of a peaceful river.

Contact information for Bryan’s Ground

  • E-mail
  • Address
    Bryan’s Ground
    Stapleton (Nr. Presteigne)
    Herefordshire LD8 2LP
    United Kingdom
  • Telephone
    (44)1544 260001

Monday, November 14, 2011

Garden Talk

Browsing arround the web I came across this stunning garden magazine. It contains no images, but is alltogether one of the most refined gardening publications. A quarterly publication dedicated to pasionate garden and nature lovers with a taste for the exquisite...
It makes a wonderfull and most precious gift to find under the Christmas tree.



Monday, November 7, 2011

Formal gardens with a modern twist

November signs a slow down in the normal garden activity, so there is lots of time to dedicate to garden books, put some order in our holliday pictures and think about all the gorgeuos gardens we have seen lately or that we plan to visit next. It usually is also a time we wildly dream and schetch projects for our garden and plants in general.

So here are two, in my humble opinion, magnificent French formal gardens which add a touch of modern to the classical scheme of a "jardin à la française" with some interresting ideas to borrow...

 Manoir d'Eyrignac - Dordogne

Parterre à la française with three degrading box dots at the bottom.
 The recent White Garden with two Japanese inspired red gates and white Guirlande d'Amour roses trailed on chains. The rest of the plants were white petunias and ghaura, rosemarry and box.

Chateau de Marqueyssac -Vezac, Perigord
 Intricatedly sculpted box parterres ( btw at Marqueyssac there is a remarcable collection of Buxus sempervirens of different varieties)

For all who want to know more about:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Winter Reading

Since winter is knocking at the door and the gardening pit stop months aproach, I have ordered two new books to make the waiting sweet and usefull:

Russell Page' absolut classic " The Education of a Gardener"
 and Michael Pollan's "The Botany of Desire" which I am really looking forward to, since I've really      enjoyed "Second Nature" an elegant and witty book.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winter shelter for Plumerias

 Photo. Virtual Plumeria Org.

Four years ago I started some Plumerias from seed. I loved the idea of the imemnsely lush flowers and fragrance  - admittedly it was a moment of botanical weakness when I started quite a collection of topical trees - and apart an temporary insane impulse to own any kind of madly flowering exotic plant, it was a totally un reasonable and non recommendable experience, unless you do not aim to plant an arboretum of your own. Most of the seedlings grew much quicker and bigger than I originally expected, so I had to beg friends to accept/adopt exotic gifts since I could hardly grow 25 (!) Jacarranda babies - on their way to becoming young trees, not to speak of the magnificent but fierce and thorny Chorisias...

 Pictures: Jacaranda, Chorisia, Australian Flame Tree, Araucaria Bidwilii(Bunya Bunya),

 I somehow imagined that since they were "exotic" they necessarily were finicky and delicate to start, but left alone some very slow palms all the others proved to sprout and thrive quite enthusiastically.
In the end I was forced to give up quite a part of my young collection ( it was not so a good idea to try and grow Bunya Bunya trees in a very small town garden...) and kept only a couple of special darlings.
The two Plumerias definitely were among them! They are as easy to grow as weeds, provided they do not suffer cold and wet weather! Mine have been exposed to the  mild winters of Barcelona and did quite well. They regularly lost all their leaves and were a bit slow to start in the spring but otherwise behaved nicely. Since they are similar to succulent plants they abhore wet feet and are best planted in rich permeable soil. A nice supply of organic fertilizer during the growing period and that's it.
This year's leaves have been particularly lush so I decided to bring them indoors and see if next spring they will make a decisive grow step and thus maybe start to flower...

For all those who might be interested in trying to grow Plumerias here are some usefull sites:

http://www.semillas.de - Semillas las Plamas , who has got a very seductive offer of exotic seeds and very usefull instructions