Thursday, 16 August 2012

Painting with flowers

Playing with colour and form in the garden is the nearest that most of us will get to painting.
                                                                     Mary Keen 1991

Prairie planting at the Floriade

Hanging basket with gloriously harmonious colours

Garden designer, writer and painter, Gertrude Jekyll was a phenomenon. A dumpy little woman, she towered over other garden writers of the twentieth century. Though her eyesight was poor, she was able to distinguish between different shades of colour in borders and knew exactly which plants would give the exact result she wanted in the 150 or so gardens she designed during her lifetime.

Using specialist garden books – especially those of the Royal Horticultural Society – it is relatively easy today to find a plant of the exact shade and habit that would suit the prevailing conditions, but inspirational gardeners, like true artists,  understand the conventions yet instinctively break the rules to achieve a particular effect. 

Grasses in Pablo's garden appear almost ghostly in the evening light

Christopher Lloyd of Great Dixter fame was such an artist/gardener. His planting schemes, with their outrageous use of controversial colours, revolutionised planting schemes in the 80s and 90s and his ideas continue to influence many of today’s garden designers and plantsmen and women. 

Do visit Great Dixter if you get the opportunity.
I guarantee you will be both delighted and inspired. 


  1. What gorgeous images Gillian. A pleasure to see here. But I think you need a high level of gardener's skill to achieve this effect.
    Lovely post for your blog.
    And Mr Pablo is looking cosy. Wxxx

  2. Congratulations to Pablo! I've often thought that gardening is very close to painting but only time and patience reveals the final canvas.

  3. This post is really incredible, one of the most helpful I have ever read, indeed. Mandolin And Guitar

    1. Thank you for your appreciative comment. I hope your own garden is a canvas full of colour and form despite the hot and dry summer.