The authors of Color in the Garden, Nori and Sandra Pope, and their photographer,
Clive Nichols, have created something special, a coffee table feast for
gardeners, artists, flower lovers, and aesthetes.
The book's best feature, to this amateur gardener with big aspirations every
new spring, is the double-page spreads of flowers and plants grouped by
color. Not only by color, but the color by season - so you can dream of
orange all year round, from the vigorous spring geums and heavy zinnias of
summer, to the oriental fanned blossoms of colutea x media lingering
through the fall.
I like the color wheel as defined chapter by chapter - yellows, reds and
blues we expect, but who thinks of green as a differentiated garden color.
And how sweet to offer "peach" and "plum" as categories of color choice for
the gardener who wants to expand her range of hue.
The Popes have their own garden in Somerset, England, "an accurate
reflection of ourseles, and how we interface with the natural world." They
tell us that "the eye tends to follow light, repeating colors, shapes or
patterns...this fact provides a tool with which to control a garden's
audience, to draw and direct movement through the garden." As "audience" to
their artistry, we cannot help but be drawn to, and fascinated by the
possibilities for color and combination they put before our wondering eyes.
Take green, for an example - "the color of primeval wealth." In the eye of
the photorapher it spans the spectrum from the near yellow of nicotiana to
the blue shaded pawlownia tomentosa: "No paints, silks or forests can
compete with the variety offered by the many forms of lettuce." Though it
may be too subtle for the average color hungry gardener, a monochromatic
display of greens is one of the intriguing experiments suggested by this
large, bountiful book.
Or think white. "Smaller white flowers weaving in among other colors will
give them a lift and energy that physically brighten the picture." Using
the photos as your guide, you can fantasize about acquiring the frankly
sexual page-white lathyrus latifolius albus or adding the traditional
soft rosa margaret merrill to your summer display.
And the nicest surprise of all: at the end of the text is a directory of
every plant featured, so your musings can become realities.
The authors have pulled out the stops on a palatte of colorful prose, and
linked their considerable expertise with that of a photographer whose eye
engages. A highly recommended offering, an excellent and sure to be
appreciated gift for the gardener or painter.