A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

20 Nov '08 7:25 am
Crikey Mark, Hidcote got it all wrong! If that's supposed to be a Mediterraneanish garden, I'd have to give them a FAIL I'm afraid. Aside from the 2 palms and some poor looking spikies in pots, the rest is straight out of an English country garden magazine (funnily enough).

Dixie is absolutely right... it is a semi-formalish cottage garden! I love this style of garden - it is symmetrical and well arranged with old brick paving. The tall, tidy hedge is offset with lush slightly unkempt greenery spilling everywhere and the colour sceme is quite circumspect (blues and yellow and limes). Really lovely. But not at all static (excellent label Waratah). Lilies and monkshood would look badly out of place in a true 'spikes and stones' garden! :D

honoured member
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Blue Mountains, NSW Australia

Static Gardens

20 Nov '08 8:50 am
I don't think Mediterranean gardens are static, it's the often repeated and rather sparse interpretation that I find so boring. If only they would include some pots of geraniums for a bit of seasonal colour.

I grow Aconitum (monkshood), and didn't know they liked plenty of water. Last year we received just on 2000mm of rain and, with 1200mm so far this year, no wonder mine is galloping along!

jack two
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The new improved Jack Holloway v.2

What a fascinating thread!

20 Nov '08 7:37 pm
It is three days since I first took a look at this discussion, and it might just win my prize for the best ever on Moosey's - thanks for getting it going, Dixie!!! =D> =D> =D>

Allow the teacher a moment: what makes it successful? It is controversial - it raises questions of taste (is it beautiful/suitable/original etc.) and it includes photos that are there to illustrate what is boring or wrong, not just what is beautiful and right. We will have different opinions, and are invited by the context to express them. And all of us are set thinking of other issues and examples to add to the debate. Bravo again!

Here is my ha'penny worth:

It is interesting how found objects often play a role in seaside gardens - and work there, but can look tatty elsewhere. I love the very first pic, with the careful use of bright colours on the woodwork, almost suggesting that the house is built of found objects. The shell mirror adds another dimension - CRAFTING the found objects into something that is itself beautiful and well made. The 'footsteps' add an amusing touch - but I can't help thinking that it is funny once only; what I call bumper-sticker humour. On the other hand it would be easy to continually ring the changes on the basic idea, and keep yourself, the neighbours and passers-by involved. Do I understand correctly that 'jandal' is used not just for the sandals, but anything else people leave behind?

I really love the 'framed potplant' - it suggests just that on the one hand, and on the other creates a really effective setting for an interesting plant. It could look contrived, and it could be very effective... it sets me thinking of doing similar things... when does a picture frame become a picture frame? Mmmm...

The artist's studio does something else that intrigues me: vine on vine. How do you stop them intertwining? It is most effective, the larger leaf suspended, it seems, just above the smaller one. Definitely worth thinking of - but then I'm not a control freak, and in no time at all mine will be all muddled. I mean, I don't even brush my dogs when they need it...

The lady in the rill (that's it, yes, Kerole!) IS a detail from Botticelli's 'Primavera'. I agree with Kerole that it is saved from being tatty by being so well done. What I found interesting though is that on the thumbnails and without my specs, I thought that the pool was painted with a writhing mass of huge koi fish. If I had not started with that impression, would I have been less impressed? After all, she does look a little like the drowned Ophelia and would I really like her lurking in my garden? But I LIKE a bit of controversy, whether in life, art or over dinner. :)

The house with the excess of spikey plants in the garden. What interesting things have been said: Waratah's excellent term 'static', the implications of 'more of the same', the whole international 'low-maintenance suburbia' type of garden. And yet I can not disapprove of that garden - proportions are good, there is sufficient contrast and depth... but it is so true that 'safe' so seldom equates 'exciting'. In my gardening days in Johannesburg I would start my conversation with clients by saying: "Let's get one thing sorted. I don't do palms. If you want palms, I will recommend someone to you." It is amazing how much that opened up the conversation. In the garden in the lowveld I've just started there are MANY palms... but then they look right there, and no matter how tall, they are dwarfed by the trees. But I still had a quiet smile to myself at the thought that palms would be part of the vocabulary there...

As for the Mediterranean Garden at Hidcote... I remember smiling when I first saw it, for it was so gloriously ENGLISH! But as Kerole says - it is the 'spikeys in pots' that give it the name. The English love their 'med' and their 'tropical' gardens, and coming from a country where one can get the real thing, I'm always rather amused... but then aren't those of us who want 'English' gardens - especially in the hot and dry parts of Australia, South Africa and the USA - guilty of exactly the same crime? Remember the gardener's motto - be true to the spirit of the place...

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand


21 Nov '08 6:36 am
A jandal is a sandal of basic design with only a bit between the toes - that's what differentiates a jandal from an actual sandal. Traditionally jandals are made of rubber but these days they are made of everything from leather to hessian to moulded plastic.

A Gardener of Disrepair
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Taupaki, New Zealand

Garden Styles.

21 Nov '08 7:04 am
I couldn't agree more Jack... a brisk gardening/style debate is good for the soul! :D

I guess I should have been a bit clearer. I don't hate Med gardens, dry gardens, rock gardens, or the sort. But they have to fit in a bit. Not clash with their surroundings too much. I love some of the quintessential Med-ness ingredients such as thick vines, splashes of vibrant colour (pelargoniums and bourganvillia), pots of all sizes, gnarly old trees (olives in particular), courtyards, archways in walls... And Waratah is right, just because it's a Med style garden does not mean it must be static. What I dislike is a paint-by-numbers type approach where the expected is to be expected (if that makes sense!). Boring, unimaginative, impersonal, often incongrous considering the wider setting, overly stylistic = naff. I don't like the deja-vu feeling of gardens designed by trend followers.

Crikey, that was a bit of an out-pouring so early in the morning. Clearly, I need more coffee...

Weekend Gardener
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Coatesville , New Zealand

Trend followers

21 Nov '08 10:45 am
I agree with you Kerole.I blame all these garden makeover programs. The gardens don't really show the owners personality but that of the designer. I would hate to have mine done by someone else. Every garden should be individual and if you can't have what you want in your own garden, Well??
When all the gardens in the street are the same design I think it becomes very boring.

Great pics Dixie thanks for sharing with us, I love the pool with the painted lady what a great idea.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Home gardener & plant fetishist
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Berkeley, California, USA

This has been fun, Jack. Nice going Dixie.

21 Nov '08 3:05 pm
Leave it to Goose to hit it on the head: "If you can't have what you want in your own garden..well" Reminds me of a quote from e. e. cummings I like a lot from his "Six Nonlectures". If I can put my hands on it this weekend I'll come back and share it.
Mark in California

Q: "Do you ever sit down?"
A: "All the time until the urge to 'play' some more becomes too strong."


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