I have clients whose interest in gardens runs to green, and more green. Though my love for the green of the plant is every bit as great as my love for their flowers, I have never had the discipline it takes to restrict my own palette like this. But I find that whenever a client represents their own point of view outdoors, the result looks just right.
These large stone and brick piers punctuate a pair of walls that partially enclose a terrace. I plant them with a mix of plants whose textures are as unlike stone and brick as possible. This is a matter of directing visual attention. The window boxes on the roof of my shop are not so gorgeous. They are made of galvanized sheet metal ordinarily used in the production of ductwork for the heating and cooling industry. The sole function of those boxes is to hold the soil, nutrients and water for the plants-they have no visual interest in and of themselves. The intent here is to acknowledge the beautiful surface of the container as much as the planting.
A green planting has a quiet and serene look, as the greens so closely relate in color and value. The green of these painted Belgian oak boxes harmonizes with the color of the bluestone terrace; the relationship is a subtle one. The Dallas Blues panic grass repeats that color. Monochromatic color schemes tend to read that way, although an ocean of orange is anything but serene. Add some contrasting purple to that orange, which in turn contrasts with the green, and you have a visual party going on. These greens speak softly.
A porch planting plays the spiky texture of a tropical fern off the round chubby leaves of a of large scale pepperomia; the effect is pleasing, not demanding. The elegant English wirework planter reminiscent of vintage conservatory furniture is balanced with a simple and very rustic wreath that hangs on the wall year round.
The container collection is a beautiful one. An American stoneware grape panel container from the 1920’s, and English lead and the Belgian oak box are very different in materials and forms, but very much alike in feeling.
A pair of very old and distinctive French iron planters sit on the walls. I usually plant them with lavender, and alyssum, showy oregano, and whatever other herb like plant seems appropriate. The effect is graceful; the muted colors of every aspect of this space invite contemplation.
Some plants stay green all season, as our summer is too short to permit flowering-as in this large tropical salvia. The fine perennial hyssop hangs on to the ghostly lavender of its flowers a very long time; this is repeated in a lavender trailing verbena. Though there is some color here, it is the relationships of the greens that reads first and foremost.
I think the leaves of tibouchina grandiflora are surely my favorite. The large oval leaves are completely covered in fine white hairs; they are a marvel. Their contrast to the needles of the rosemary topiary is considerable in form, and little in color. Variegated licorice is one of the most versatile of all green plants. The leaves sport two different shades of green; the blotches are very blue green, while the edges are more yellow-green. It works with every plant with which it is paired. This collection of pots benefits from the lively effect of its habit of growth, and relative lightness. Subtle does not mean sleepy.
No one element here dominates a supporting cast. Each element has its own voice, but the close relationship of the voices makes for a space that whispers. Some gardens provide refuge from noise; this I like.