Secret Flower Garden

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Secret Flower Garden

How The Project Took Shape This was the site in very early spring with only the paved seating area in place. The garden had been well dug over and fertilized but, apart from a few white primulas, the hoped for glorious carpet of colour is still merely a dream. Mid Spring and the seating area is finished with its pergola and bench. The rest of the secret flower garden is beginning to take shape but is still rather bare and chilly at this very early stage. The white tulips are called ‘Maureen’ and were a present from our lovely neighbour, Diane. Ah! Summer at last. This picture was taken in early summer, just before Christmas. I have used a planting colour scheme of mainly pink, blue, mauve and purple with white alysium around the white pebble stepping stones that lead up to the paved seating area and then back again past the small lemon tree in the corner. The view looking toward the house. The flower garden is hidden behind a trellis fence and a hebe hedge. The bird bath in the center is made out of an old piece of terracotta water pipe with a large terracotta pot saucer for the bath. The birds don’t seem to mind this makeshift construction at all and visit regularly, especially during the intense summer heat. The garden, although by no means perfect of course, did turn out to have the right degree of wildness and serendipity that I had hoped for. The germinating ‘cottage garden’ seed mixes created surprise after surprise as the summer months progressed and we await eagerly what pleasures autumn will bring.

Secret Flower Garden

Jean-Michel Othoniel, a 2011 Artist-in-Residence at the Gardner, returns with an exhibition of new work conceptualized during his residency—a testament to the program’s ability to nourish artistic creativity. Known internationally for monumental sculptures of blown glass and metal, Othoniel adheres to a basic theme through much of his work: exploration of natural beauty and its many material transformations. Secret Flower Sculptures will highlight his obsession with the hidden meanings of flowers, and his desire to capture their essence and beauty in sculpture, drawing, and photography.

Secret Flower Garden

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Secret Flower Sculptures will showcase bronze models and watercolor sketches made for the Versailles project, along with two new sculptures—Peony, the Knot of Shame (glass) and La Rose des Vents (gold aluminum)—one of which will be installed outdoors. Additionally, the artist has assembled his own very personal tour of the Gardner, drawing on connections and discoveries made during his residency.

Secret Flower Garden

Which is better? Both have their uses in the garden. Annuals are great for places where you want a lot of flowers, but they generally need more watering, fertilizing and other care than perennials, and planting them every year can be a chore. Perennials provide steady structure and form to a garden, and many gardeners delight in the anticipation of waiting for their favorites’ bloom time. Few are truly plant-it-and-forget-it, but they do tend to need less care than annuals. Long-term vs. short-term. Perennials, whether you buy them as seeds or plants, may take a year or more to get established and bloom in the garden, but the effort will pay off for years. If you want flowers now, annuals are the solution. But it’s not an either-or thing; many gardeners combine annuals and perennials.

Secret Flower Garden

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Secret Flower Garden

Ask a child to draw a garden, and he’ll draw some flowers. Give a gardener no more space than a front stoop, and what will appear there is a flowerpot. For many, flowers are the definition of a garden.

Secret Flower Garden

This! No, that! Annuals allow you to change the look of your garden from year to year. Even a garden with a backbone of perennial plants gets interest from different annual accents each year. Perfect for pots. In northern climates, annuals are best for color in containers. You can plant them in the spring and when frost comes in fall, they’re done. That’s a lot easier than trying to protect the living roots of a potted perennial through a cold winter. In climates where winter cold is not an issue, some perennials may live in pots for years. You can combine flowering annuals with perennials or foliage plants in a pot if they have compatible needs.

Seeds or plants? Both annuals and perennials can be sown from seed directly in the garden, but it will take a while for them to sprout, develop and bloom — several weeks for annuals, up to a year for perennials. That’s why many gardeners start seeds indoors weeks before it’s warm enough to plant them outside. Or you can buy plants already sprouted. It’s better to buy plants that aren’t in bloom yet, though; you want them to do their blooming in your garden, not in the greenhouse.

Success is in the soil. Good soil — not too sandy, not too sticky, with enough organic matter to make it drain well and be inviting to plant roots — is essential for successful flower gardening, just as it is for vegetables. After all, vegetables such as squash and tomatoes are formed from flowers. Test the pH and fertility of your soil with Burpee’s Electronic Soil Tester and then visit the soil testing page for suggestions from our experts. Annuals and perennials. As far as gardens are concerned, these are the two basic kinds of flowering plants. Annuals go through their whole life cycle in one growing season: sprouting from a seed, growing leaves and roots, producing flowers, creating seeds and then dying. They are popular with gardeners because, with reasonable care, they bloom their heads off all season. Perennials are plants whose root systems stay alive underground for several years or even decades. The part above the soil may go dormant and die back in winter, but the plant is still alive and will sprout again in spring. The tradeoff for perennials’ long life is that they bloom for only a few weeks or months each year. Exactly when and how long varies between species.

Labor cost: The price of annuals’ all-season bloom is that they need regular watering and fertilizing. That’s because producing all those flowers all season takes a lot of water and nutrients, as well as sunlight. You may also need to deadhead — pinch off dried-up blooms to encourage the plant to flower more. Perennials aren’t totally carefree — depending on the species and on your climate and soil, they also need some watering and fertilizer, but not as much attention as annuals. The perennials that tend to need the least maintenance are native plants — those that evolved in your area and thrived, until gardeners came, with no care at all.

Right plant, right place. Often we fall for a flower on looks alone, regardless of whether we can give it what it needs. But you will have most success with both annuals and perennials if you first figure out what kind of site you have — how much sun, what kind of soil, how close to the hose, how much work you are willing to put in — and then look for a plant that fits.

My idea was to fill the area with masses of lovely annuals grown from both seedlings, for structure and colour theme, and also packets of ‘cottage garden’ seed mixes for an element of surprise and serendipity. We also wanted to have a sheltered area where we could sit with a cuppa or a nice glass of wine and admire the view. As the Australian summer sun can be intensely hot, it would need to have some shade in the form of a small pergola, which we hoped, eventually, would be covered in fragrant pink climbing roses.

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