As January nears its end, my thoughts begin turning to the garden. This is made possible by the historically warm winter we are having here in Virginia. Rather than shoveling 3 feet of snow as I did last year, I squint at the mud wishing that I could make a daffodil sprout. It is this mindset that informs this Photo of the Week. And gentlemen, this can be a gentle reminder that Valentine’s Day is approaching. It’s not too soon to start planning!
Gardens come in a wide range of sizes and styles, far beyond the scope of this blog post: cutting gardens, woodland gardens, urban parks, rain gardens, rock gardens, xeriscapes, herb gardens, vegetable gardens, greenhouse gardens, parterre gardens and hanging gardens among many others.
For the purposes of this story I would like to briefly compare two types of gardens that I find at opposite ends of the garden spectrum. Each has a powerful, enjoyable pull in its own right. On one end is the formal garden, typically found outside a giant castle or palace. These gardens are designed on a large scale, using perspective, line and pattern to create a series of spaces. These spaces are often organized around special views of the house, fountains, art or the countryside beyond. Plants are used en masse in these gardens, working collectively to create a desired effect – boxwood hedges, allees of trees, mounded lawns, etc. The effect is quite powerful, but requires daily maintenance by a large staff of skilled gardeners.
The cottage garden occupies the opposite side of the coin. Like the formal garden, this garden relates to a home, but the scale is much smaller and the rules are relaxed. The owner does the gardening, imprinting the space with her individuality and style. Collected ornaments, structures, pottery and plants each have an opportunity to star in this garden, highlighting a unique pattern, color, shape and story. A visit to this garden is an opportunity to relax and experience the world of the gardener.
Garden tours are a great way to experience several stories in one afternoon. Each garden has its own style, falling somewhere between the two extremes above. Sometimes I am inspired by the layout and organization of the entire garden. Other times I am drawn to a single element, such as this ceramic pot in a Waterford, Virginia garden.
Interestingly, the pot is not used as a container for the flowers. Rather, the rambling lilac blooms nestle against the outside, appearing to caress it and negotiate their way inside. The pairing of these items is powerful, as the dainty, soft pastel flowers contrast nicely against the bold lines and weathered, earthy tones of the vessel. I love the ingenuity of this arrangement, and find my eyes returning to it over again.
Thank you for sharing this experience with me. Please share this with your friends and return next week for another photographic journey! In the meantime, please visit my website to see “Large Pot & Flowers” and many other garden photographs!