Creative combo: the manmade among the natural

When nestled just so among well-placed plants, a solitary blue pot adds flair to the garden.

David McDonald
Lustrous: In Linda Cochran’s Seattle-area garden, the blue pot helps draw the eye up from the ‘Homestead Purple’ verbena below it to the weeping willowleaf pear above.

It’s not all that often (well, never, in my book) that landscaping dabbles in anthropomorphism, but here you have it in our last comborific look at Linda Cochran’s garden.

See? Doesn’t the weeping willowleaf pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’) look like a big silvery arbor sheltering a solitary blue “person”? Ah, the artistry involved in the well-placed pot.

OK, so maybe to you they’re just an accent plant and a focal point, but a garden like this makes some of us a little dreamy. And note the sophisticated interplay of color, contrast, texture, balance, repetition ... I could go on.

There is a central vertical axis here: It’s defined by the gray, blue, and purple hues of the pear, pot, and verbena. But it is broken by the bright splash of sea-foam colors in the variegated Jacob’s ladder almost at the center of the composition.

And that bright spot is bookended by the boxwood, creating a horizontal line in the vista. So there you have it: That large, lustrous vessel is aimed right in the cross hairs of this peaceful vignette.

And, presuming you are as taken with this look at ‘Homestead Purple’ verbena as I am, then here’s an aside: This vivid plant was discovered serendipitously by two luminaries of the horticultural world, Alan Armitage and Mike Dirr, while the two were driving to Athens, Ga.

Passing a Southern homestead, they spotted a mass of bobbing rich purple and had to screech to a halt. The homeowner didn’t know much about the plant. So the guys took a few cuttings, and now the plant has a name and many new homes.

Alas, it is hardy only to Zone 7, although that makes it quite comfortable at Linda’s Bainbridge Island, Wash., homestead.

Editor's note: This is a series of short articles about creative combinations  in the garden. Previous articles include:
Sheer artistry in the garden
Creative combo in pink and gold
Not your grandmother's hen and chicks

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