How does your garden grow?
It’s easy for the passion of gardening to start
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.