Garden Tapestry: May and June

6/16/2015 One of the perennial geraniums I planted in spring, growing with dusty miller, which survives winter here.

6/16/2015 One of the perennial geraniums I planted in spring blooms beside Dusty Miller, which survives winter here. Leaves of Black Eyed Susans, which bloom in late summer and fall, form the background.  These plants proved exceptionally good in this spot.

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What is a tapestry?

These woven decorative textiles were much more fashionable in Medieval times than in ours.

Meticulously designed and executed, many vividly colored threads were woven into geometric designs and pictures on a heavy cloth.  I think of tapestries as large artworks  hung on a vast stone wall in a drafty European castle.

Cathy, of Garden Dreaming at Chatillon, brought the topic to mind in her very kind comment on last week’s Wednesday Vignettes: Magical Green, where she said,

“The quotes are as good as the photos – Beth Chatto’s ‘Green Tapestry’ on our blogging screens. Thanks so much…”

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6/22/2015 Canna lilies have reached about half their final height. Hibiscus, behind them, will bloom with scarlet flowers in a few weeks.

6/22/2015 Canna lilies have reached about half their final height. Hibiscus, behind them, will bloom with scarlet flowers in a few weeks.  The Colocasia to either side looked fresh and dramatic until taken down by frost.

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I know of Beth Chatto as a well respected British garden designer and plantswoman.  I’ve read reviews of many of her books, but never owned one of them.

And so Cathy’s comments sent me to Amazon to locate her book, The Green Tapestry, which I promptly ordered.

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6/5/2015 A red leaf Canna with Colocasia 'Pink China' made a striking combination all season.

6/5/2015 A red leaf Canna with Colocasia ‘Pink China’ made a striking combination all season.  Mahonia grows behind this grouping.

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Chatto’s The Green Tapestry was delivered earlier today, and I’ve immersed myself this evening in her instructive  text and beautiful photos.  There is so much to learn from her!  I was delighted to see so many familiar plants that I treasure in our garden, featured in hers.

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Here the perennial geraniums bloom with snaps, planted the previous fall which bloomed sporadically all winter.

6/5/2015 Here  perennial geraniums bloom with snaps, planted the previous fall, which bloomed sporadically all winter.  Vinca minor forms a glossy green backdrop for the flowers.

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Which brings us to today’s post, and brings the idea of  a  ‘tapestry’ back to the garden.

The metaphor of gardener as artist can not be visited too often.  We work with color, form, rhythm, mood, line and shading;  just as does any fine artist.

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A seedling Acer, dug from my parents' garden, punctuates this planter of ferns and Caladiums.

6/20/2015 A seedling Acer, dug from my parents’ garden, punctuates this planter of ferns and Caladiums.  I moved the Acer into a permanent spot in the garden in October, and plan to ring it with a bed of fern and Caladiums next May.

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Ours is a dynamic and ephemeral art, however; because we work within the stream of time, the fourth dimension, along with the other three.

Most painters work within two dimensions;  sculptors, potters, glass makers and textile artists with three.  But like musicians, gardeners must also work within the dimension of unfolding time.

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5/25/2015 Begonia 'Gryphon,' in a pot, is surrounded by 'volunteer' growth of Virginia Creeper and wild grapes.

5/25/2015 Begonia ‘Gryphon,’ in a pot with an angel wing Begonia, is surrounded by ‘volunteer’ growth of Virginia Creeper and wild grapes.  Yucca filamentosa leaves poke into the picture from lower down the hill.  The Begonias grew quite large over the summer and made a good display.  The pot disappeared under the vines, but the vines didn’t compete with the potted Begonias.

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And the style of garden design I favor, and what Beth Chatto narrates so skillfully; interweaves many different plants of different form and color, all coming and going into the ‘picture’ of a garden bed as the season progresses.

This is an ever changing tapestry created primarily with woodies, bulbs, and of course, perennials.  The picture continually changes as plants emerge, unfold, bloom, grow, mature, and eventually fade.  And of course different plants come and go on their own schedules.  This style of planting, the antithesis of a monoculture, is featured prominently in the current Special Plants Edition of the British gardening magazine, Gardens Illustrated.

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5/4/2015 This is a view of our 'stump garden finally coming into its own this spring.

5/4/2015 This is a view of our ‘stump garden’ finally coming into its own this spring.  The Iris bloomed here for its first time in this bed, followed by Alliums and Glads later in the season.  The Hellebores remained green and happy all summer, despite this sunny location.  A large Nepeta grows behind the Iris.

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And so I’ve set a new task for myself in the new year:  I will review my photos from last year, with an eye to identifying pleasing garden ‘tapestry’ shots.  And in studying the photos, I plan to make a list of those plants which worked out well in our garden, and should be used more often.

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Our Allium flowers remain popular with the insects. These from onion sets planted last year to protect other things growing in our stump garden.

6/16/2015 Our Allium flowers remain popular with the insects. These from onion sets planted last year to protect other things growing in our stump garden.

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And I’ll also note those plants which didn’t perform well, and should be overlooked next season.

Thank you, Cathy, for inspiring this project!  In this post, I’ve included photos taken between May 4 and June 22, 2015.

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5/10/2015 I hope these lovely Siberian Iris will return in the spring. They were overshadowed

5/10/2015 I hope these lovely Siberian Iris will return in the spring. They were overshadowed by the sweet, lacy little Artemesia beside them, which grew into a shrub this season!  As dainty as the tiny purple flowers of the Comphrey may appear, this plant is a lovely thug.  I’ve spent lots of time over the past six months cutting it back and checking its spread.  It makes great mulch and fertilizer, it is just labor intensive!

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Just as an artist favors certain colors and materials, so gardeners favor those plants which perform well, remain pest free, offer the colors we prefer, and grow well in our garden’s conditions.  And of course, we are always looking for new varieties to trial!

Success comes from planting more of those plants which perform well, and moving or editing out those which disappoint.

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6/3/2015 This Autumn 'Brilliance' fern is now my 'go to' perennial. Believe it or not, it still looks this vibrant and lovely now as it did all summer. I grow it in all sorts of different light conditions and soils with success. If I could plant only one fern, this would be it. Here, a Sedum given to us by a friend skirts below it.

6/3/2015 This Autumn ‘Brilliance’ fern is now my ‘go to’ perennial. Believe it or not, it still looks this vibrant and lovely in January as it did all summer. I grow it in all sorts of different light conditions and soils with success. If I could plant only one fern, this would be it. Here, a Sedum, given to us by a friend, carpets the soil below it.

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I hope these photos may offer you an inspiration for some new plant or approach to try in your own garden this coming year.

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6/3/2015 Applecourt crested painted fern has proven interesting and hardy in our garden. Japanese painted ferns are my second favorite fern for this garden. They come in countless color variations and forms, are reliably perennial, and prove tough through our summer weather.

6/3/2015 Applecourt Crested Painted Fern has proven interesting and hardy in our garden. Japanese painted ferns are my second favorite fern for this garden. They come in countless color variations and forms, are reliably perennial, and prove tough through our summer weather. Aren’t those crested fronds simply outrageous? (Find a great selection of unusual Japanese Painted Fern and Ghost Fern hybrids at Plantdelights.com )  This is a start in its second season, and I can’t wait to watch it grow larger and more impressive as time goes by.  And yes, that is another hardy Geranium growing to its left….  I’ve paired it here in front of  a Hellebore.

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January is my official month for garden dreaming, and perhaps it is for you as well.  With nursery catalogs arriving now in each day’s mail, I’m ready to review the year past, and plant my ideas for our garden in the year ahead.

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5/26/2015 This container combination of Dusty Miller, Sedum, and Geranium proved tough and beautiful all summer in a particularly hot and harsh location.

5/26/2015 This container combination of Dusty Miller, Sedum angelina and Pelargonium proved tough and beautiful all summer in a particularly hot and harsh location.  The Pelargonium bloomed sporadically, but with leaves like these, who worries about the flowers?  A variegated ivy grows from a lower opening in this custom made pot.  In fact, everything but the Pelargonium is still growing in this pot as winter approaches, and still is looking good.

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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June 22, 2015

June 22, 2015

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

9 responses to “Garden Tapestry: May and June

  1. I feel so pleased that my comment was inspiring – what a feeling! I also have voles – so laughed at your picture of the daffs going down on the vole tunnels! I look forward to more of your project in 2016.

  2. I’ve long admired your plant combinations. Sounds like they are going to get even better!

    • Eliza, do you have a copy of Beth Chatto’s Green Tapestry? I am in awe just paging through and studying her combinations. My copy was exactly 1 cent, plus postage, from Amazon. Isn’t that incredible? What a tremendous gift from the universe! Most of my plant combinations are spontaneous, many with ‘volunteer’ plants and happy accidents. I hope to grow a little more skillful in planting by consciously studying what works in this garden. This afternoon, I finally planted the last of those bonus bulbs from the bulb clearance sale. I was popping poisonous Daffies right on top of vole tunnels around shrubs; hopefully discouraging the little varmints. Can’t wait to see all of these bulbs come into bloom in a few months time! ❤ ❤ ❤ e

  3. Beautiful post Woodland Gnome! I loved your description of a gardener as an artist, using nature itself as your paint, brush, and canvas. Your garden is a living, breathing artistic collaboration and I look forward to seeing more pictures of your plants woven together in their beds. Blessings to you, Sarah

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