Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Colour Versus Calm

The last of the zinnias with some plums, red onions and lemons - luscious

It may be that I have overdosed on colour lately, what with the intense colours in the crazy quilt I have been toiling on feverishly in order to start the next one, and all the autumn flowers in the garden, not to mention the shades of the fruit, but for some reason I have a sudden craving for a white garden.  It started off innocently enough when it occurred to me that to complement the “new” front porch with its stained glass panels a row of simple box plants would look very smart.  Then it seemed logical to add some attractive white flowered plants to set off the box.  Woe is me though, all the lovely things which are already established at the front of the house, what would become of them?  It is a vexed question and perhaps the best plan might be to have a white garden in the back, around the pool.  Tricky, very tricky.  We gardeners are never happy with what we have accomplished; when we started the garden at Shoestring Cottage the plan was to use only cuttings and the very cheapest of plants from weekend markets and that was enough to warm the cockles of this gardener's heart.  But oh no, now there is the prospect of a more simple appearing but more difficult to accomplish pocket paradise.  

How serene and refreshing a simple white blossom can be

And how chic is monochrome embroidery, silk on silk.




White gardens are not to everyone’s taste though, it has to be said. Somebody I knew said they look “Just as if somebody has festooned all the plants in the garden with toilet paper” which seemed a little harsh, to say the least.  You do need a lot of self discipline if you are going to aim for a white scheme though, and I know that with the best will in the world I would end up sneaking in a few “extras” just because I couldn’t resist the description of some colourful blossom or because a thing was a free cutting and it seemed ungrateful not to give it a place to grow.  Then the floodgates would be opened and before long the carefully thought out white scheme would disintegrate into a spotty muddle.  Possibly better to stick with a muddle in the first place and welcome in all colours.  Also, white is not always truly white.  If you look closely at many white flowers there are a lot of underlying tints which would make it very difficult to get things just right.  Some serious thought would need to go into this scheme.  

In fact white gardens may be the gardening version of the “capsule wardrobe”, another thing which gives immense trouble when it is supposed to simplify one’s life.  The Dancing Queen is always the picture of sartorial chic and when I mentioned to her recently that I was thinking of attempting a capsule wardrobe she said, “But we have had this discussion before, and we agreed that a capsule wardrobe would never work for us!”  The reason it wouldn’t work for me of course is that I can’t bear to be restricted to a few tasteful garments which all work together and neither The Dancing Queen nor myself really believe all that old rope about making one LBD look completely different from day to day with the addition of a scarf, belt or different jewellery.  That is just balderdash and we need to face facts sometimes – my facts being that some days only a fifties dress complete with net petticoats will work while other days a land girl look with victory rolls is required.  Yes indeed, I shall need to think very carefully before committing myself to the white garden idea, or the capsule wardrobe for that matter.  It is a bit like that saying, "Less is more."  Everybody knows that whoever said that just had never had quite enough "more"!


Who could forego the pleasures of colour in the garden?  Probably not me, I have been kidding myself.  

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