How does your gar­den grow?

It’s easy for the pas­sion of gar­den­ing to start

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Steve Whysall

IT’S easy to be­come pas­sion­ate about gar­den­ing. It can start in­no­cently enough. Per­haps you stop on your way to the of­fice to no­tice how beau­ti­ful a rose is. Or maybe the sweet scent of daphne halts you in your tracks. It doesn’t take much to ig­nite the flame.

Be­fore you know it, you’re off and run­ning down to the gar­den cen­tre to buy plants and start build­ing your own lit­tle gar­den heaven — a place of beauty that you can step into, to re­lax and en­joy a moment of bliss. The pas­sion for gar­den­ing came long be­fore all the great sto­ries of love and pas­sion that hap­pened in gar­dens.

There was a gar­den long be­fore Adam and Eve came on the scene. And where would Romeo and Juliet have been with­out the gar­den and the vine that al­lowed Romeo to climb up to the bal­cony to steal a kiss?

Many of the world’s great­est sto­ries of love and pas­sion took place in gar­dens: Cu­pid and Psy­che, Apollo and Daphne, Pel­leas and Melisande, Pyra­mus and Thisbe.

The fact is, whether we’re aware of it at the start or not, one of the rea­sons we like to build a gar­den is to get closer to beauty.

Once the stage of flow­ers and fra­grance is in place, it is hardly sur­pris­ing sto­ries of pas­sion and ro­mance nat­u­rally fol­low. But the gar­den is also the per­fect place for fos­ter­ing two other im­por­tant forms of love.

The an­cient Greeks knew there was not only the ro­man­tic love of Eros, but also friend­ship philia love for friends, fam­ily and com­mu­nity; and storge love, the nat­u­ral af­fec­tion, say, be­tween a par­ent and child.

A gar­den can also be a place where all these love re­la­tion­ships are de­vel­oped and en­cour­aged.

Here are some ways to make your gar­den a more ro­man­tic, pas­sion-filled one as well as a place where fam­i­lies and friends come to­gether for good times.

--Heart to heart: Some plants are just more ro­man­tic than oth­ers. The old-fash­ioned bleed­ing heart (Di­cen­tra spectabilis), with its grace­ful heartshaped blooms, is much more se­duc­tive than a util­i­tar­ian marigold or pelargo­nium, even though they have their place of value. Peel the side sepals off the bleed­ing heart flower and in­side you’ll find a per­fectly formed Valen­tine’s heart.

--Pas­sion­ate peonies: Peonies are ir­re­sistibly ro­man­tic flow­ers with their large blooms of ruf­fled petals. Soft pink va­ri­eties like Bess Bock­stoce and Sarah Bern­hardt are pop­u­lar picks but Ja­panese peonies such as the pure white Leto, pink Fancy Nancy and fuch­sia and pale yel­low Bowl of Beauty are also ex­cel­lent per­form­ers.

--Go for old-fash­ioned roses. Old gar­den roses, ones that were around be­fore hy­brid teas came on the scene in 1867, have an ap­peal of­ten lack­ing in mod­ern cul­ti­vars. They bloom once, but have great fra­grance. Find a spot for clas­sic such as Comte de Cham­bord, Rose de Rescht, Charles de Mills and Fantin La­tour.

--Di­vine vines: The blue pas­sion vine (Pas­si­flora caerulea) has the right name and the flow­ers are amaz­ing, but it is not the most ro­man­tic flower, tak­ing its name from Christ’s pas­sion. Fox­gloves and peached-leafed bellflow­ers (Cam­pan­ula per­si­ci­fo­lia) are more charm­ing, es­pe­cially in a cot­tage-style gar­den. The most ro­man­tic of vines is, of course, honey­suckle, but make sure you buy the kind that has fra­grance. Not all cul­ti­vars do. Bel­gica and Hal­liana are rec­om­mended for best fra­grance. Aure­o­rectic­u­lata is also fra­grant.

--Sit­ting spots: A bench tucked un­der an ar­bour smoth­ered in roses and clematis is the per­fect in­vi­ta­tion for a ro­man­tic in­ter­lude. But it is also im­por­tant to send a clear mes­sage to vis­i­tors to your gar­den that they are wel­come by giv­ing them plenty of invit­ing places to sit and chat.

--Don’t show too much. It is a com­mon mis­take to de­sign a gar­den so that ev­ery­thing can be seen all at once. Keep peo­ple guess­ing what is around the corner by break­ing spa­ces down into more in­ti­mate ar­eas us­ing screens and arches.

--Add a touch of whimsy. Mak­ing a per­son smile is half­way to mak­ing them a friend. Gar­dens with light-heated touches of whimsy and break the ice. Gar­den cen­tre gifts shops are full of friv­o­lous dec­o­ra­tions from gnomes to frog to fairies that can add a note of fun to your gar­den.

--Light up the night. Few things can turn a gar­den into a ro­man­tic fairy-tale space as quickly as well-placed sub­tle night light­ing. Can­dles are the less ex­pen­sive way of do­ing it. Re­mem­ber, it is the ef­fect of the light­ing you want to see, not the lights them­selves. It’s all about re­flected light and soft shad­ows.

--Canwest News Ser­vice

The soft pink Sarah Bern­hardt pe­ony, left, is pop­u­lar. Above: Bowl of Beauty pe­ony is also an ex­cel­lent choice.

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