Color in the Garden
Nori & Sandra Pope
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Color in the Garden: Planting with Color in the Contemporary Garden* online

Color in the Garden: Planting with Color in the Contemporary Garden
Nori & Sandra Pope
Soma Books
160 pages
November 2002
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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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.

© 2003 by Barbara Bamberger Scott for Curled Up With a Good Book

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