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Things I am learning
when reading a book
I spent some time in the garden over the weekend. It feels a treat to be able to get out and do some gardening work at this time of year. We seem to be having a lot of warm days of late which is welcome but slightly unnerving. I see hellebore starting to flower and the daffodils are start to sprout in the lawn. It feels too warm and more spring like than winter. I am sure it will change so I try and make the most of the warmth. Washing is out. Windows are opened to air out the house. I just roll with it. After an hour pottering away in the garden I head inside for the cup of tea that is always warranted after a gardening session. I curl up on the couch and reach for the book “The Gardener’s Palette” by Jo Thompson that currently has my focus. It seems to have arrived at just the right time as I am planning the garden for next season. Here is what I have learnt so far.
As I read, I realise that there is a skill in combing a beautiful inspiring image into your garden. I am learning that it is important to understand that what you see in a book is a moment. My main aim for my garden is to create something that has a continous food for pollinators, so how do I create moments and still have something to precede and follow said moment? If I want the garden to be a success on this front I need to look at ways that I can link up various moments. I need to create a narration that continues through out the season and is not just one act. Which means I need to interweave the ideas that I find inspiring, taking a bit from page 5 which can then be followed by the inspiration from p26 and so on. Thankfully there are little nuggets of help within the book. Each flower story is broken down into plant names, growing conditions and when they will flower, all helpful information when you are building a garden story. With all this new information my knowledge of plant types is growing and I can also start to make a plan which sees a garden which is flowering continous and succesful supporting the resident pollinators.
As mentioned above “The Gardener’s Palette’ holds lots of information about the plants used in the plantings, which I am finding oh so helpful. It is also introdcuing me to new plants which of course I am eager to add to my garden. My newly discovered gem is also a bee friendly plant, Verbascum. Images of lush apricot versions in the form of Verbascum ‘Cotswold Beauty’, are what pulled me in. It looks like while “Cotswold Beauty’ is unavaliable in New Zealand there are a number of varities and colours which I am sure can be included into the garden. The reason why I find this a great bee friendly plant is it is a great source of pollen and it’s plant structure will be of most use to bees. Verbascum is single spire which is made up of multiple flower heads, making it a one stop shop for foraging pollinators. It always warms my heart when I find a new bee friendly plant.
Naturally when a book is called “The Gardener’s Palette” the focus is going to be on colour. Planting schemes are headed with wonderful titles such as “Green and Wine’, ‘Spring Combination with a Twist’ and White with a Dash of Lemon’. All of this sounds very inspiring. I think the thing I find most rewarding about this book is that it is encouraging me to be a bit braver about mixing colours together in a flower bed. I tend to stick to one colour where possible which I can confindentially say has never stayed true with self seeders frequently mocking my plans. After reading this book I am definately interested in trying to add more contrasting colours to a flower bed. To expriement more. One of my ideas is to add little pops of yellow to a bed of pink, in the form of dahlias which will appear later in the season. I am hope this will add a touch of whimsy to a bed that has been producing flowers all summer long.
Jo Thompson has a lovely substack newsletter called ‘The Gardening Mind” which you can subscribe to here.