Saturday, 1 May 2010


Think of ink. Inky blue-blot, leaky pen, inky fingerblues, indigo, Quinkbottledriedblack, penscrape on school desk, pink blotting paper. Will the inky blue-blot come alive and do something interesting?

Making a garden border out of this creative notion is something of a challenge. Moving from the inkiness in my head to the reality of a growing garden is quite a leap - coming down to earth a bit. But, it is this very earth, literally which will support my artform. Squirting squids, inkcaps, calligraphy ink, art shop, seed packets, garden centres, money. Dark blue watercolour poured down the page. Seedlings all in a row.

The challenges (so far).

Making these inky flower colours work in my border will have to be reconciled with all the green that is inevitably in the garden anyway. The answers come from unlikely places. Sitting in a coastal nature reserve carpark for example. Relaxing by the sea in true old lady fashion - coat- scarf-blanket-round-the-knees-comfy-chair-soaking-in-the-sun. Looked up at car park. Three cars parked in a row. Dark blue, crimson and deep purple. Background landscape, bright spring green. Colour scheme for garden. Sorted.

Well not quite, but very helpful. Last years Chelsea flower show helped too. A planting of bronze fennel, deep red paeonies and an indigo coloured bearded iris stuck in my mind. Bronze fennel arrived in the form of free seeds with a magazine last year. Grown, turned out to be ordinary green fennel. Mucho disappointed.

Tracking down iris and dahlia tubers, and crocosmia corms from garden centres has to be done early in the year. They are increasingly kept in warm cosy conditions on display units that were warmer than my own house. Makes for a comfy shopping experience, dries up the plants or makes them grow prematurely. Plants are outdoor creatures or have we forgotten? Seed packets a similar problem. Overhead heaters to keep customers warm and displays in sunny windows don’t help seed germination at home.

So, shopping done. No greenhouse so every home windowsill covered in polythene and filled with pots and trays. Looks a total mess. Soon get sick of it. BUT. BUT, but when it all starts to grow its magic-magic-magic! Check them every morning, lift and raise their polythene covers, water when needed. On warm day open windows promising them a better life to come.
In-between jobs. Ground preparation. Digging, removing stones/weeds, adding bonemeal, moving existing plants, re-arranging, marking out with sticks, backache, rest, legache, hipache, everythingache, rest, bed, sleep, recover - just. Sunny days-lovely-too-dry-rain-plants-thrive. Whole business exhausting and frustrating. And then the dark red tulips flower. Mouth waters, heart leaps.

No time to paint.

Plant list so far........

Tulpa Black Parrot, Tulipa Norma Major, Tulipa Doll’s Minuet, Iris Germanica Night Owl, Iris Germanica Black Dragon, Crocosmia Lucifer, Papaver Patty’s Plum, Clematis Warszawska Nike, Zinnia Red Spider,Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy, Aquilegia Miss Huish, Cornflower Double Black, Cornflower Tall Double Blue, Sunflower Ruby Sunset, Love Lies a Bleeding, Scarlet Kale, Poppy Paeony Black ........ and a selection of existing perennials/shrubs.