The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Chapter 1 A march study and the border of early bulbs

Living garden pictures

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To devise these living pictures from simple well-known flowers seems to me the best thing to do in gardening. Whether it is the putting together of two or three kinds of plants, or even of one kind only in some happy setting, or whether it is the ordering of a much larger number of plants, as in a flower-border of middle and late summer, the intention is always the same. Whether the arrangement is simple and modest, whether it is bold and gorgeous, whether it is obvious or whether it is subtle, the aim is always to use the plants to the best of one's means and intelligence so as to form pictures of living beauty. It is a thing that I see so rarely attempted, and that seems to me so important, that the wish to suggest it to others, and to give an idea of examples that I have worked out, in however modest a way, is the purpose of this book. These early examples within the days of March are of special interest because as yet flowers are but few; the mind is less distracted by much variety than later in the year, and is more readily concentrated on the few things that may be done and observed; so that the necessary restriction is a good preparation, by easy steps, for the wider field of observation that is presented later. Now we pass on through the dark masses of Rhododendron and the Birches that shoot up among them. How the silver stems, blotched and banded with varied browns and greys so deep in tone that they show like a luminous black, tell among the glossy Rhododendron green; and how strangely different is the way of growth of the two kinds of tree; the tall white trunks spearing up through the dense, dark, leathery leaf-masses of solid, roundish outline, with their delicate network of reddish branch and spray gently swaying far overhead!