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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in Flower gardens (10)


A Garden Composition in Red, White, Green and Grey.

The photo above is a view of the gardens at Knockmore in Ireland. It caught my eye, even though red and white is not my favorite color scheme. What captivated my brain was the perspective created by placing red flowers in the foreground to echo the same flowers in the background. There, white flowers are repeated, as well. The dual repetition, when combined with grey rocks and green foliage, creates a beautiful composition.

I appreciate the manner by which the photographer set up the shot so that the upward slant of the red flowers in the foreground, probably Centranthus ruber, contrasts with the downward slant of the rock garden behind. Notice, too, how the mass of the evergreen shrub in the background harnesses the energy created by the opposing movements of the slants while echoing the mound shapes of the low growing white flowers.

This photo is used by Dublin Gardens as publicity to promote visits to English style gardens, situated in the vicinity of Dublin, Ireland.


Garden Photography:A Photo Shoot Full of Talent at a Flower Farm

About a year ago, I stumbled across a photo of a white cottage surrounded by deep and generous flower beds filled with white begonias; I marveled how effective the monochromatic white treatment appeared when it was anchored by a white building. Accidentally, I misfiled, or deleted the image. Now it is inaccessible and I am frustrated by my own fumbling. A blog that I prepared about white gardens was based on that very image, and without it the blog loses its punch.

Frantically, I began Googling all day Saturday and, alas, the image is nowhere to be found in cyberspace, where I first spotted it. However, I did find many photos of the White House and many gardens planted with white flowers. Unfortunately, the exact photo that I need to complete my story still remains elusive.

Because two of the key words in my Google search were flowers and white, several images by photographer Irene Jeruss popped up. They were flower garden compositions that the photographer had shot at White Flower Farm. I was smitten with her images and decided that they deserved to be shared .In a search to determine to whom the image accreditation belonged, I discovered that they were the property of a photographic website of the Smithsonian Institute, called click!, a site that encourages visitors to disseminate material and information found there, as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

Cottage Garden by Irene Jeruss

From 2007 through 2010, click! invited experts from a spectrum of professional worlds—innovators, image makers, writers, and public figures—to survey the ways photography has influenced the history, progress, and practice of each of their fields of interest. In addition, visitors to click! were also encouraged to contribute texts and images, and selected visitor contributor content became part of the project’s online content. 

Garden in June by Irene Jeruss

 The photo essay that talented photographer Irene Jeruss, posted to click! was accompanied by a delightful text. Please click here to read her essay. This photographer is based in Bristol, Connecticut, uses a film camera, and specializes in business and corporate, family, people, stock, travel and tourism. Other photographic specialties include Architecture: Interiors, beauty, bio-medical and scientific, horticulture, and portfolios.

Lloyd Border by Irene Jeruss

What has drawn me to her photos, and what has blown me away, is the manner by which the photographer set up her shots:  the perspective, the composition and, of course, the colors. These are the kind of scenes that some of us wish we might wake up to each morning.


A Dutch-Influenced Garden: The Millennium at Pensthorpe by Piet Oudolf

Readers who have seen the book review of Designing with Plants, posted here on July 12, 2010, may already know that Piet Oudolf is one of my favorite garden designers. Yet, it is unlikely that I will ever have a landscape-as-canvas vast enough to emulate his work. What he has created can never be duplicated in the urban or suburban flower beds of my clients’ gardens. Oudolf’s work requires parklands, meadows or fields. Fortunately, there are plenty of open spaces around the world, managed or owned by visionaries, who have already invited Mr. Oudolf, a native of the Netherlands, to work his magic on their land.

Just the other day, Hermes, who blogs at Gardens of a Golden Afternoon, came across a photo essay of Dutch-influenced gardens; some designed by Oudolf, others inspired by his style. This collection of images was originally posted at the marvelous website of the Telegraph, an online version of The London Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper that supports the garden designs industry in a significant manner. From that collection, I have selected the above photograph, by Alamy, to share with my readers. It is known as the Millennium Garden, spans one acre, and is one of three gardens located in Pensthorpe, a wildlife and nature preserve in Norfolk, England. The parkland is open to the public and sells plants of all flowers that grow there. Orders are also taken for sold out varieties which are shipped to visitors when they become available.

After discovering the pictures posted by Hermes, I stumbled upon additiional images of this same garden. The photos below, taken by Andrew Lawson, have been used to illustrate an article of the Telegraph and the official site of Readers may click on any of the images on this page to link to the accredited sources.


The planting scheme of the Millennium Garden is predominantly maroon, purple and russet. Plants used include Echinacea, Monarda, Astrantia, Bronze Fennel, Astilbe, Aster and Vernonia; intermingled with a variety of golden grasses such as Deschampsia. In all, about 100 different species of perennials and over 20 types of grasses have been used. The plants are set off by tracts of open water, and explored by winding paths.

Horticultural travelers to the UK now get “more bang for their buck”. In addition to visiting the traditional English gardens, that are challenging to re create in North America, they can also study English based but Dutch-influenced gardens, planted with flowers and grasses more suitable for our climate.


An Omitted Author.

Flower Gardens, Penelope Hobhouse, Frances Lincoln

A reader contacted me a short while ago because she noticed that I had omitted an internationally renowned author from my list of recommended books on gardening. That list appears to the right of this page. While the omission was not an oversight, it was, at first, difficult to write a response because the reader, a garden blogger in her own right, is someone I respect immensely.  At first I had difficulty replying spontaneously because I did not want to offend her. In time, I was able to collect my thoughts and deliver them in, what I hoped was, a polite manner.

The omitted author is Penelope Hobhouse. By coincidence, one of her books, Flower Gardens, is the first I ever purchased when I began gardening. It was the initial inspiration for planning and planting an English style garden. However, there were shortcomings to the book that I was unable to articulate until a few years later when I purchased a similar book by Tony Lord, Best Borders. Then, by comparing the two, I understood what made Mr. Lord’s book better than Ms. Hobhouse’s.

Flower Gardens is a beautifully written ode to gardening. The author takes us on a journey not only through her favorite gardens but also through the garden ideas in her mind. Reading her work is like walking beside her, collecting pearls of wisdom along the way. Sadly, some of us do not have the time or inclination to stop and savor all that Ms Hobhouse offers us.

The generous amount of information that she shares with us is so all encompassing that it is overwhelming. There is too much to read and too much detail to absorb. Nevertheless, this is an exceedingly well-written, lavishly illustrated, and impressive-to-give-or-receive publication. Unfortunately, it is not as useful to practical gardeners as are other books.

Mr. Lord’s book, on the other hand, is leaner and more focused; the text is more accessible, and the photographs of flower beds, some identical to those that appear in Flower Gardens, are more effective, by comparison, to those taken by Ms. Hobhouse’s photographer, Andrew Lawson.

Changing lifestyles and new technologies have transformed some of us into impatient readers. Few have the time to curl up with a book. We merely consult them to learn how-to-do things. As for the information we seek, some of us expect it to be distilled to its essentials; then to be delivered efficiently and effectively. Above all, we demand superb photographs and idiot-proof illustrations that instruct and inspire the reader rather than decorate the book's pages.

In making the selection of recommended garden publications, I have chosen those books that deliver information instantaneously. I seek out practical, quick-to-find, methodically organized, and easy-to-follow advice, because like many others, I am a time-deficient gardener.



Budget Gardening; Protecting an Investment When Times Are Tough. Part 4- Flower Beds

This is Diana's Garden at Veseys.comA flower bed, no matter how beautiful to behold, doesn't have the same impact on a home’s value as do trees, foundation plants and hedges. Nevertheless, the visual impact of a striking flower bed on a prospective buyer is undeniable. It finishes off the landscaping just as a cherry finishes off an ice cream sundae. It makes the property more attractive even if it adds no perceived value to the home.

To effectively create a flower bed on a budget, it is necessary to begin with a master plan or vision, a blueprint of the flower bed design and a very disciplined shopping list of plants for that bed. To respect a tight budget, start with a small composition. Divide the area designated for flower beds into several sections. Do one section each season. By the time you get to the next section, some of the flowers you planted last year may have multiplied enough to be divided, thereby reducing the amount of new plants needed.

Make friends with people whose gardens are mature and who are eager to give you cuttings of what they grow. This is the least expensive way to build a flower garden. Just be sure that the plants you take actually fit into your master plan. No matter how tempting they are, avoid gift plants that do not respect the master plan.

Some online suppliers will reduce the prices of their plants soon after they ship out the spring orders. Retailers will wait until the early fall to put their inventory on sale. There are excellent prices to be had at these times. The patient gardener who is determined not to pay full price for plants can save from 20 to 50 percent by waiting for prices to be discounted.

Respect the esthetics of the community you live in by ensuring that the color of the flowers you plant blend well with the exterior of the home and enhance rather than depreciate it. Do not use tacky or recycled objects as planters or lawn ornaments no matter how cute they look or how clever they make you feel for using them. These are guaranteed to reduce the perceived value of the home.

Beware of beds that contain only flowers. They can become messy with time and diminish, rather than improve, a property’s value. Always begin a flower bed design by planting small evergreen shrubs and by adding boulders. Plant the flowers later on when funds permit. The combination of textures of evergreen foliage, boulders and flowers will create a professional-looking flower bed. This composition also offers visual contrast during the growing season and architectural interest during the winter. These are essential matters because one can never predict the season when a house will be put on the market for sale.


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