Archive for October, 2007

The Victorian Garden

Posted in Victorian gardens on October 31, 2007 by ena

1victorian_urns.jpgThe Victorian era brought many changes to social habits,
and it also brought about a new concept in gardening.

Due to the Industrial Revolution, there was a great increase
in population, especially in urban areas and the wealthy
class that emerged were distinct in background from the
landowners who created the English gardens.

In a book printed in 1806, Humphrey Repton stated that the
four principles of landscape gardening should be;
1. The garden should display natural beauty but hide natural defects.

2. The garden should give the appearance of freedom by disguising
    or hiding boundaries.

3. The garden should carefully conceal every interference of art,
    making the whole look as if it were totally produced by nature.

4. The garden should have no objects of mere convenience or

It is interesting to note that these principles went against the
views of ” Capability Brown“, the reigning horticultural planner
of the Victorian garden.

Mr Brown, operated on a grand scale, he said that his work was
done  with a poet’s feeling and a painter’s eye. 
He was the master garden artist, under his influence parklike
gardens abounded, and he liked to incorporate lakes and hills
into his designs.

However Mr Reptons idea was to take the idea of a garden park
and miniaturize it, making it every person’s own floral and
foliage display.

John Claudius Loudon , a Scot, with his wife, published the
Suburban Gardener( 1838) for many years the bible of the new
and rapidly rising middle class.
It was becoming clear that the garden was no longer the exclusive
domain of the privileged few, but the delight of the middle class.

The flowering gardens in present day London and its suburbs,
owe a great deal to this one man.

 hosta-garden.jpgA typical Victorian Garden of yesteryear, would have  a green
 lawn, shrubs appropriately placed for mass
 and dimension, and an incredible array of
 walls, levels, and steps all combined to
 create a pleasant scene.


A Victorian Cottage Garden.

Posted in Victorian gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2007 by ena

my-garden.jpgIn the days of old England, many of the workers in small villages
were called peasants, and they owned small houses with very small gardens.
A Victorian cottage garden would have to supply the family with all of
their gardening needs.
The kitchen garden would consist of vegetables and mixed fruits.
In amongst this array of produce they would also grow flowers.The most popular flowers would be hollyhocks, delphiniums, daisies
and also an array of herbs – mint being one of the most popular.
With their mystical charm and abundance of scents, Victorian
cottage gardens
exhibited a style that evolved through the necessity of the times.Many families would have gone hungry if they had
not had the benefit of home-grown produce.

Unlike the peasant garden, the gardens of the landowners,
or gentry, were very formal with box hedges, straight lines,
stone paths, and many with wonderful statues depicting
the gods of ancient

They would also have fountains with water flowing into a lake or pond.
They were considered by some to be classic with their order and discipline.

When the more romantic influence came into being,
plants were considered to affect us emotionally,
and the cottage garden was born out of this movement.

One of the most famous cottage gardens was designed
by the French impressionist painter Claude Monet.
The cottage gardens with their abundance of roses,
growing over fences, and their vine-covered arbors
with flowers climbing towards the sun, are now emulated in North

Their informal style of tall wonderful perennials battling it out
for space in the back of the borders, creating a profusion of
textures and substance, and the smaller plants in the front
of the borders determined to lift their heads to the sun,
not to be outdone by their taller cousins, all this creates
a palette of color, that would be very hard to outdo.

The other advantage to having this kind of garden
is that it reduces the amount of weeds that grow,
as the branching out of the plants hides the sun from
getting through to the ground and therefore snuffs
out the chances of weeds germinating.

To create a cottage garden, don’t be afraid to plant
seeds close together as this creates the effect you
are looking for. Go for a variety of shapes.
Plant feathery plants amidst spiky ones; use bold leaf
plants with delicate ones. Put a sprawling plant next to an upright one.

The best rule of thumb is to plant tall at the back
and short in the front of your borders.

In most cases, try to plant in odd numbers of three, five, etc
and in very large borders try groupings of up to seven or nine
of the same plant. This method gives depth and structure to your borders.

Also keep foliage in mind. Some gardeners say that foliage
is more important than blooms, but the sight of colored blossoms
nodding in the breeze and turning their faces up to the sun
can be more satisfying.

In the end it all comes down to personal taste, but whether
you like straight line gardening, formal gardening, or cottage gardening,
get your hands dirty and have fun.

oh to be in England!

Dark Vegetables For Your Gothic Garden.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 25, 2007 by ena

Do you have dark vegetables in your garden? Or is your garden
a little on the tame side?

If you would like to scare the neighbors try some of these in your Gothic garden.

Tomatoes that are black!  ‘ Black Krim”Black Prince”Southern Nights’, they are
really a very dark red, but I like them and they taste great!
They are also quite a showstopper in the garden.   They are from Russia.
I believe that the reason they are so dark  ,is  they retain the green
pigment even as they develop their ripe red color, hence the hint of black.tomato.jpg

There are also other vegetables with a dark side, take the lettuce for
There is a hybrid’ Iris’ that looks almost black, and then there is
an Oriental green called ” Tatsoi”, with black-green leaves.

I did read that red tinted lettuce is the most nutritious.

How about bell peppers?  
Try ‘Purple Beauty’  and “the ornamental pepper called ‘Black Prince’,peppers.jpg
this one is a bit spicier in flavor, but it has lovely black-purple foliage.

In the herb garden there is a delicious variety of basil called’ Dark Opal’
Its leaves are purple and it is delicious in salads or soups.

In the ‘olden days’ many supposed to be witches, put many interesting
ingredients in their soup, such as;

‘eye of newt’  or ‘bats ears’ , these names were given to medicinal herbs.
The Witches would use these herbs in concotions that would supposedly
heal anyone of their diseases and afflictions.
It seems strange that in this day and age, many scientists are researching
the same herbs and plants to verify their validity in todays medicines.

meet you on the dark side!

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More Gothic Plants For Your Garden.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2007 by ena

 cosmos-black-swallowtail.jpgCosmos have a wonderful burgundy-black flower that is a great plant for the Gothic garden. It has a slichocolate-cosmos.jpgght chocolate scent so  it can be used in a fragrant garden ( not for eating!.) It is a  wonderful plant and although an annual, it does self-seed.  You may also like to try another Gothic type plant, the  sunflower. They are an easy growing plant and they come in many deep reddish colors , all with dark centers.
Although we are used to daylilies in lovely bright colors, they also come in dark colors such as;
Smoking gun
Midnight Magic
Night wings
Cairo Night

 I just love ” Buddleias” in all colors , but for my Gothic garden I chose ” Black Night” with it’s blue black flowers, and this plant attracts Butterflys, with it’s lovely fragrance.
There are also ornamental plants that have a sinister appeal, Black Mondo grass is another favorite for the garden , it gives quite a dramatic effect, Nigrescnes is not actually a grass, it has purple-black leaves and small pink flowers, which are followed by glossy black berries.

 The Ornamental Sweet Potato has a lovely cultivar called “Blackie” , this Gothic plant, has black leaves and stems. I use it extensively in my hanging baskets and containers, or you may use it on a trellis or garden arbor. You can sit under your arbor and enjoy the lovely leaves that cascade down, from this plant.

 The last plant, but not the least, is Carpet Bugle. It has a  variety called “Royalty” which has midnight purple leaves and can be used as a ground cover.

It is hardy enough for the dead to walk on it!!

‘meet you on the dark side.

Gothic Gardening Roses.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2007 by ena

rose-balck-baccara.jpg In the world of those experts in rose gardening, there is
 really no such thing as a ” Black Rose”

 The closest one can really come is to this rose.
‘The Rose Black Baccara ‘or ‘Taboo.’

 Other dark roses are;

Ink Spots
Ingrid Bergman
Black Jade
The Squire
Deep Secret
Kentucky Derby
Black Tea

If you would like to grow other Gothic plants then try
some of these;

The Black hollyhock( Althea nigra) known as “the Watchman” it can
be quite spectacular in the garden, and many people do not
know that it has been around for quite some time, in fact
this plant was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites!

Snapdragons have a cultivar known as the ‘Black Prince’, the
blooms here are a rich dark velvety crimson, they are
very striking in the Gothic garden.

You can’t leave out the statuesque Canna lily called
‘Black Night” it has not only deep red blooms, but
burgundy foliage.
This is a must for the ‘Gothic garden’

Gladiolus have several varieties that are dark,black- red
rather than true black. These are;

Black Stalliontyrone-power-blck-rose.jpg
Black Swan

Does anyone remember ” Tyrone Power”
in the ‘Black Rose?’.

meet you on the dark side!

garden with themes.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2007 by ena

Black Cat  Themed gardening is one of the most often
  requested  by people that I
  design gardens for.

 Gardens with a theme take on the
 personality of the owners of the
property, and they have such fun
deciding what theme they want
that fits their life style.
When you think of the fall, you think
of pumpkins, lanterns, ghosts
and goblins , and your garden?

I have had some homeowners, who have
really taken this season to heart,
and have designed their gardens with
orange and very dark plants.

Some very keen sports fans, want their gardens
to flourish in the colors of their team
( not always easy to do! ).

I have just started using the gothic theme
in my garden, it is very different and 
challenging, but what else is gardening all about?

No more pastels, pinks and yellows etc,
now I am using black and the closest
that I can get to that color,
in today’s plants.

I also use dark red flowers and foliage plants
and vegetables that speak to the darker
side of simple gardening.

Who said Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were only in fiction?