by germinatrix | February 23rd, 2010
There. I SAID it!
Okay, I kind of lied. I’m not a total flower hater. But I am ambivalent.
I am a Leaf Lover. A Seedpod Admirer. A Disciple of Texture. When I am designing a garden I think of all of these things first. When I think of color, it’s not flower color that gets me crazy with desire, its the FOLIAGE.
Flowers are the Varsity Cheerleaders of the garden. If the garden was highschool, flowers would be The Socials – the ones that get all the attention, all the glory, that are in all of the pictures in the yearbook. When I see a hybrid tea rose – let’s say ‘Double Delight’, I see Karynn K____, the blonde tanned varsity cheerleader/student council president/ most beautiful/ most likely to succeed. She was super sweet. I had nothing against her, personally! But it was that brightness, that in your face power of unquestionable beauty that made me look elsewhere to find a different standard. Something less obvious. In highschool, it was punk rockers and drama geeks. In gardens, it’s leaves.
Leaves take nothing for granted. They work it with color, texture, shape, and even fragrance in many cases! While these supporting players rarely get the attention even a small flower would get, when called upon to take center stage they do it in grand style. And they are rarely Divas about the whole thing … the minute a flower arrives on the scene, they do what they should – they step back and go about the business of making that flower look better. It almost breaks my heart!
The design process is a labor of love. It is a very personal relationship one develops with space and materials. I create gardens out of desire, and frankly, I can’t help that my heart swells for the leaf that is so gray it is almost white, then deeply cut, with serrated edges to boot. When a succulent decides to look like a black rose, that’s it – I belong to it forever.
As if it isn’t enough for leaves to be fabulous, they are dependable. This is why I am so happy to make foliage, form, and texture the focus of my work. Flowers are ephemeral. I want them small and tough ( unless they are the flowers of succulents – then they can be as fabulous as they want to be. It’s a contradiction. Sue me! )
For the record – I don’t really hate flowers. Flowers are plant sex! Who am I to not LOVE that! I just think that flowers have a GREAT press agent, and it’s time that someone says “Hold up Lilium speciosum rubrum, you Varsity Cheerleader! Step back and clear a path for Agave weberi, or else you are going to get STABBED by this punk-ass masterpiece of foliage beauty!”
Check yourself, flower lovers – without leaves it would be a world of Naked Ladies. I could easily design a garden on the strength of foliage alone, but I couldn’t design with only flowers as my focus. In MY gardens, they are the supporting cast.
Foliage, take a bow!
Now take trip around the country and read what my fellow Garden Designers Rountable bloggers have to say on the fascinating topic of foliage! Prepare yourself for information and inspiration! ENJOY!!!
Andrew Keys – Garden Smackdown – Boston, MA
Christina Salwitz -Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA
Debbie Roberts – Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Jocelyn Chilvers – The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Pam Penick – Digging : Austin, TX
Rebecca Sweet - Gossip in the Garden : Los Altos, CA
Shirley Bovshow - Edenmaker’s : Los Angeles, CA