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Leading from Monet's house is the the central alley, here re-created in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden. The alley is the highlight of the garden in late summer and autumn.
Planting schemes of the early 20th century consisted of overabundant borders encased in boxwood (Buxus spp.). Monet removed all the box edging from borders in the existing garden, allowing the free plants to stray onto the pathway. This veered from the structure and constraint of contemporary garden design at the time.
A clever trick he used when forming beds, and one easily copied in our own gardens, was to bank up the soil to make the plants seem taller.
There are bearded irises to suit all sizes and styles of gardens, and as with Monet's garden, selection of differing cultivars can either extend the flowering season or give you a blaze of color just when you want it.
The season starts with the miniature dwarf bearded iris, which is the first to flower in April; it ends in late June or early July with tall bearded iris.
Growing tip: Most irises need well-drained soil in full sun. To keep these irises at their best they should be divided and replanted in July or August every two to three years. Any poor or diseased plants can be discarded, while the best are replanted.
One of the basic tenets of Monet's gardening was to create harmony in the plantings. We can see here how that idea has been used in a modern scheme, with the purple salvias blending beautifully with the globe-headed alliums.
But looking closer we see a further link to Monet, with the touch of white blooms to set off mauves and purples. It's a simple way to enliven monotone plantings and one that we find at Giverny, not only in borders of pastel plantings but also in some of the hot colors of late summer and autumn.
Even in very modern, soft landscape design, we can bring a touch of Monet's planting palette. Here, drifts of May Night Salvia (Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night'), zones 3 to 9, and Walker's Low Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low'), zones 3 to 8, are used to create a loose union of linking colors that roam quite freely — just as Claude Monet liked.
To see the real thing: Monet's Giverny garden is open daily from the begining of April through the end of October. Guided tours of the garden are available in English, French and German. There are local accommodations, or you can take a day trip by bus from Paris.
The New York tribute: See the exhibition at The New York Botanical Garden through October 21, 2012.
Focus Your Garden Palette
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