Color for Adventurous Gardeners

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9781552975305: Color for Adventurous Gardeners

Here, at last, is a book on gardening with color by its most adventurous exponent, Christopher Lloyd. Color for Adventurous Gardeners is about using color for maximum impact.

Previous books on gardening with color have treated each color as a separate entity, but, in fact, colors work with and against each other, and must be viewed as relationships. This is the first book on gardening with color that explores how to make successful color associations with plants. Yes, there are color rules, but you have to know when and how to break them.

Offering expert views based on his many years of experience, Christopher Lloyd explores each color and encourages readers to be adventurous and daring. "The limitations imposed by rules," he writes, "are a safe-haven, but the adventurous gardener will want to try something different."

Color for Adventurous Gardeners includes over 200 stunning photographs throughout its 11 chapters, each followed by a recommended plant list:

  • Red - Nothing to Fear
  • Challenging Orange
  • True Blues are Few
  • The Value of Mauve
  • Enigmatic Green
  • Broken White
  • Cheerful Yellow
  • The Truth about Pink
  • Sunlit Purple
  • Brown Studies
  • Sophisticated Black

Informative and inspiring photographs by Jonathan Buckley illustrate Lloyd's colorful writing on a colorful subject, making Color for Adventurous Gardeners both a visual feast and an entertaining read.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

Christopher Lloyd is known for his informed and lively garden writing. A holder of the Royal Horticultural Society's Victoria Medal of Honour, he is an experienced plantsman and a best-selling author. His previous books include The Well-Tempered Gardener, Gardener Cook and Christopher Lloyd's Gardening Year. He also writes regularly for magazines, including Country Life and American Horticulture.

Jonathan Buckley is an expert photographer whose images are regularly published in books and magazines, including Christopher Lloyd's Gardening Year, American Horticulture and Country Life, among others.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Color  --  Go for it!

The limitations imposed by rules are a safe haven, but the adventurous gardener will want to try something different.

The use of colour in gardens has become something of a cult subject. Hence the spate of books on it -- at least five in the past fifteen years. Why should this be and can there be anything more to say? After all, the most important aspects of gardening are, first, to grow plants that you like and to grow them well. Next, to have a firm and cooperative structure to the garden in which they are to be grown. Then, to work out the seasons of display during which you want your plantings to be effective so they make intense use of the site and never become boring; this will involve organizing successions, so that one plant is there to take over from another, as needed. Then we must recognize the importance of structural plants so that we can compose a cohesive picture, and of foliage even more than of flowers, since foliage is longer on the scene and is generally bolder.

Plants that are grown close to one another need to be able to help each other, visually. For instance, one that creates a haze of small, variegated leaves needs either to have an interesting structure as a plant, by way of compensation -- this is obtained by the tiered habit of Comus alternifolia 'Argentea'; or to have neighbors or a backdrop with more somber, perhaps bolder and contrasting foliage, rather than other small-leaved, variegated plants, which, carried to extremes, will produce the chaotic dog's-dinner effect. Leaf textures are an important consideration, and whether their surfaces are matt and light absorbing or glossy and light reflecting.

Then, at last, we reach color, but as can now be seen, it is not an end in itself. Yet it is a side to gardening that gets many gardeners worried. Choice of colour is so wide that they deliberately straitjacket themselves by developing prejudices against certain colors ('I hate orange') or in favor of others ('really, I should like my garden to be nothing but blue'). There are so many necessary restrictions in our lives that it seems a shame to impose more of them. For a broad understanding of our subject, I think we should recognize that all colors are potentially good but that certain expressions of a color may be bad, like a muddy magenta or a mawkish salmon. This recognition gives us plenty of scope for picking and choosing.

Now to color juxtapositions and here we're getting near the bone. Most popular are color harmonies or, as has more recently become a vogue phrase, colour theming. Say we have a purple-flowered plant that we like; we think, what can I put next to that? Orange? Oh dear no; the Joneses would be terribly shocked at anything so blatant. Color-anxious gardeners are always looking over their shoulders in fear of disapproval. Mauve, then? Yeees, but I don't really like mauve. How about lavender or lilac (meaning the color rather than the flower)? Yes, that sounds nice.

So we trot around the garden to find a lilac- or lavender-colored flower that's out now and that will go with our tall, deep mauve Verbena bonariensis. And we find Thalictrum delavayi, a haze of tiny mauve flowers but pining on its own. So we put them together. Voilà! And the Joneses congratulate us on our good taste, so we carry it a bit further, aiming perhaps at a purple border in the manner of the one at Sissinghurst Castle.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with all that, apart from subservience to the acknowledged superiority of the Joneses' views on taste. You should always listen to criticism, however. It may have a point. And never hesitate to put your critic on the spot by asking why? or why not? We may get fed up with children who are forever asking why, but it is really excellent and essential that they should be curious and enquiring. So, weigh up what the Joneses have to say and then decide for yourself

I often practice colour harmonies myself. But just consider what you may be missing if you stick only in that groove. Think, for instance, of the apricot-orange-flowered, dark-leaved small decorative dahlia, 'David Howard' with your V bonariensis. There you will have a strong contrast not only in color but also in form, the bold and solid as against the light, see-through verbena.

That could increase your pulse rate by a beat or two and I do believe that excitement is an essential element in the most successful gardening. To put similar flower and foliage colors together is easy and it is always safe. Nothing is going to jar. To contrast them is more difficult. The field is wide open. Contrast them with what? Contrast is everywhere and could lead to chaos; where do I start?

Experiment is another of gardening's excitements. Try it out and see. Discuss the results with an open-minded friend and decide how far your experiment has been successful and in what manner it could be improved. Go on from there, always using plants that you really do like. Something will result, you may be sure, and it will be your own baby.

Violent contrasts will sometimes work against all the odds, depending on the light and the time of day, on the time of year and on our own mood. As we emerge from the drabness of winter, we yearn for colour and almost anything goes so long as we can sate ourselves with it. You may, in February, have a huge bush of Daphne mezereum, wreathed along all its branches with mauve-pink blossom; and underneath, a carpet of brilliant orange Crocus x luteus, open to the warmth of the sun. How could you resist being gladdened? The two colors may be shouting at each other, but they are shouting for joy.

You will sometimes (especially in Scotland in summer) see a small front garden that is literally packed with every color under the sun, except, most likely, for grey (plenty of grey skies without that). It is wholly undigested and yet it is exuberant; it is full of joy, and that's a feeling that immediately communicates. 'What fun they've had!' you exclaim, even though you cannot approve the result. Probably the ingredients are all usable by yourself but, for one thing, you need larger patches as well as dots. Then you need quieter plants to set of the bright. But out-and-out disapproval of that psychedelic garden, a closing of the eyes while turning your head aside and whispering 'oh dear!', is merely to expose your priggishness and how you have missed out on the gutsy side of gardening.

Given the right circumstances, I believe that every color can be successfully used with any other and that is the message I hope to convey. It is not an approach that has so far been attempted, although Andrew Lawson's The Gardener's Book of Colour comes implicitly very near to it. There is something called the Color Wheel that I have never understood and that I shall not therefore attempt to explore or explain. It is somehow intended to demonstrate which colors may successfully be put together and which may not, but the outcome makes no sense to me, so I shall go my own way without.

Rules, it has been said, are made to be broken. If there are rules, for instance in harmony when learning to write your own music, it is probably a good thing to know and understand them, but not to be content to leave the matter there. Bach knew all the rules but broke them whenever he needed to, and that is what makes his music so constantly unexpected and enthralling, even two and a half centuries later. Gertrude Jekyll, in our own field, is always being quoted and supposedly imitated -- I shall quote her in due course to serve my own ends, for she was not hidebound by rules, which was what made her a supreme artist.

Not everyone has the gift of true originality but we can at least free ourselves of the unnecessary shackles imposed by convention. Go for it, would be my motto.

Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

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