After a recent trip to Paris, I cannot help but be inspired by Monet’s garden. The huge colour spectrum of perennial plants were amazing. The different layers and textures adding depth to the garden that just literally lead you up the garden path. It was an overload of botanical senses from colour, texture, perfumes and birdlife.
With spring in the air there is no better time to allow such inspiration to take over your green thumbs and create new gardens. Although Monet’s garden looked like just a mass of disorganised planting it truly is a work of genius. The layers worked perfectly small plants softening path edges and hanging over garden walls. Medium plants behind the ground huggers and clumps of plants with height dotted everywhere not just hidden in the background. Every colour possible used, nothing left out. I’ve always thought yellow just didn’t have a place in the garden unless on its own but I was very wrong and wow what a great colour combination with orange and purple flowering plants. All exotics and very soft perennials, plenty of seasonal bulbs in clumps. I was nicely surprised to see Cuphea ‘tiny mice’ one of my favorite small plants which always seems hard to get in Australia but growing throughout Monet’s garden with its tiny flowers showing off its blazing red and purple velvety blooms.
The best thing about perennial gardens is the free plants, self-seeding plants and plants that are easily divided and transplanted at your fingertips. Great for swapping with fellow keen gardeners and always a handy supply of plants for other areas of the garden lacking in numbers. 2016 has had some lovely new releases such as:
- Lychnis ‘Petite Jenny’, a sweet lavender coloured flower.
- Echinacea ‘Baja burgandy’, high impact bold and red.
- Eryngium ‘Neptunes gold’, a golden leaf version of the sea holly and no garden should be without seaholly such a gorgeous cut flower and perennial plant.
- Salvia ‘Autumn Sapphire’, love a big range of Salvias all together, looks fabulous.
- Daffodil ‘Elvins voice’, white flowering highlight.
When using such an array of colour always have plenty of pockets of white flowering plants and lighter foliaged plants to add contrast and bring out the other colours they really highlight the garden. Try Queen Annes lace sprinkled through the garden, white iceberg roses, white Cleome and Gardenias where you can. Gardenias bring that starkness of white but also their perfume and there are plenty of varieties that vary in size from groundcovers such as Gardenia radicans to taller varieties like Gardenia ‘Professor pucci’. Gardenias on the border are best planted in semi shaded areas protected from afternoon sun and a specific fertiliser such as a good camellia azalea food keeps them nice and healthy as they are quite hungry feeders throwing flowers in most seasons.
All these plants love a good loamy soil rich in organic matter, use plenty of mulch when establishing and apply once a year in the winter when giving the garden a tidy up. To give your garden that real cottage woodland effect use some small feature trees as the bones to your garden, my favorites are; The coral bark maple Acer palmatum ‘Sango kaku ‘and the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest pansy’. The time spent on such a garden will be well worth it.