February 24, 2010

The Pastel Palette of Monet's Garden

Look to Monet's Gardens at Giverny, France for true cottage garden inspiration. Spring-blooming bulbs, perennials, annuals and vines are used liberally in a garden that is literally stuffed so full of flowers that no ground is visible. Pebbled garden paths add to the inviting, casual style. Soft spring colors of pink, purple, white and blue are soothing and tranquil.

Elements from these famous, but unpretentious French gardens can be translated for use at home. The plantings aren't suitable for every growing zone, but the pastel color palette provides wonderful examples of how to use shapes and heights together in random beauty.

Billowing wisteria drips over Monet's water garden, a signature plant for many of his paintings. The wisteria wraps the arched Japanese bridge as well as arbors and trellises that accent the winding paths around the water's edge. Although the fragrant wisteria sinensis is truly glorious, careful control is necessary or it will take over native plants and entire woodlands.

The dainty pink tulips, planted as bulbs in autumn, are underplanted with annuals such as pansies and self-sowing myosotis sylvatica (forget-me-nots). Since tulips bloom best during the first spring, they are often regarded as annuals and replanted each year. Tulip 'Pink Impression' is a good choice for replicating this vignette.

Purple alliums are bulbs to plant at the same time as tulips. For home gardens, a good choice is allium 'Purple Sensation' randomly arranged in a mass planting among companions. Hardy geraniums such as 'Rozanne' and Dutch iris 'Rosario' work well as perennial partners. Poppy 'Angels Choir' and nigella 'Mulberry Rose', easily sown from seed, are good annual choices for the home garden, too.

Vertical displays of blooms are evident throughout the walled gardens of the Clos Normand. Bowers of pink and white clematis scramble over arbors in Monet's gardens. Clematis 'Pink Fantasy' and 'Guernsey Cream' are candidates for recreating the look. Flowering trees and shrubs at Giverny include tamarisk, pink dogwood, lilac, and apple. Meandering plantings through meadow grass provide calm expanses beneath the orchard trees.

Colors, paths, accents and plants — there is much to inspire gardeners and artists!

Bright blooms are also used in Monet's spring color scheme around the pond and within the walled gardens. Next time...

Location: Monet's Gardens at Giverny, France. May 2009. Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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