colour and texture

August 20, 2011

At Great Dixter, sun and shadows highlight the colour and texture in the planting beautifully but those who plan borders and are involved in planting design know that form and habit are also important components. The Gleditsia elegantissima  – strong in form and habit, casts the shadow and frames one view across the Long Border. The silvery foliage erupts from Salixi alba var. sericea, pollarded to retain the scale. The tree would become too large for this situation if not pollarded.  Silvery cardoons make equally dynamic statements at the back of the border with graceful artemesia to the fore . . .

. . here lines of Calamagrostis show how form and habit makes strong contrast to the floppy lines of low dark aster and the topiared yew shapes. The single fastigiate tree, on the left, is a poplar and provides a satisfying link and repetition in form to the ornamental grass. All so simple but so satisfying . . .

. . lines again of course in the kitchen garden; lines here for order and good husbandry but, aesthetically attractive too.

Teazel, Dipsacus fullonum, is the key plant at Dixter this month and this year. Don’t recall seeing so many of these all around the garden previously. The teazels seem to follow on from mulleins but, this may well change, as gardens, especially great gardens where visitors are welcomed, are required to ring the changes with regard to key plants that spread seed.

By the large, old mulberry, teazels wave out from a group of pink Japanese anemones to greet the visitor. Very delicious combination . . . and one I shall borrow!

In The Exotic Garden, lush tall growth as expected in August with bananas towering overhead and dramatic mixtures of texture and colour at eye level. Was looking forward to seeing the swallows which nest under the eaves of the low buildings – no sign and no sound unfortunately.

However, multitudes of dahlias and cannas in mid aria instead. The dark leafed canna could be C. ‘King Humbert’ – I forgot to ask but will on the next visit.

But I do know that the pale dahlia below, with flowering fennel, is Dahlia ‘ Bishop of Dover’ because I’m growing this too, this year.

And a flowery mead – eryngium and white agapanthus give the strength of form and shape with softness in texture and coolness in colour of the complimentary plants completing the picture.

The swallow’s cry that’s so forlorn,
By thrush and blackbird overpowered,
Is like the hidden thorn
On the rose-bush, deep-bowered:

But when the song of every bird
Is hushed in Summer’s lull profound,
And all alone is heard
Its little poignant sound,

The piteous shrill of its sharp grief
Seems, in the silence of the air,
The thorn without a leaf
On the wild rose-bush, bare!   Grace Tollemache  The Swallow’s Note

3 Responses to “colour and texture”

  1. daseger Says:

    Lovely and inspiring, Julia! I love teazel; no one grows it over here, not even in herb gardens. It is a great dried plant, and very practical: either spinners and/or weavers (can’t remember which) would use it in the pre-industrial textile industry.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    Yes, and teazels great for wild life too – didn’t know about the textile link so thanks for this – from Wiki – The Fuller’s Teasel (the cultivar group Dipsacus fullonum Sativus Group; syn. D. sativus) was formerly widely used in textile processing, providing a natural comb for cleaning, aligning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool.[5] It differs from the wild type in having stouter, somewhat recurved spines on the seed heads. The dried flower heads were attached to spindles, wheels, or cylinders, sometimes called teasel frames, to raise the nap on fabrics (that is, to tease the fibres).


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