by Ariane ~ August 1, 2011
This is one of the most impressive flower beds at Giverny: a vibrant combination of pink and red pelargoniums displayed on oval patterns, just in front of Claude Monet’s house. They look very much like carpets of flowers at the foot of the facade.
Pelargoniums, known until recently as geraniums, are the most popular Summer flowers in France. They were my grand mother’s favorite on her windows. No wonder, they are so resistant, easy to grow, long flowering and colorful!
Pelargoniums are commonly used in pots, it is a nice change to plant them in the garden where their rich tones flame in sunny spots.
In Monet’s gardens, they make their come back every year in May just after the last tulips. According to the mood of the gardener, they are planted either by color – an entirely red border and a fully pink one side by side – or mixed like this year. I prefer the latter option. It looks less formal, and more ‘painted’.
A border of pelargoniums in Monet’s garden? It doesn’t sound very exciting. Actually, it is daring. This red and pink carpet surprises many visitors, astonished to encounter such a low and formal flower bed at last, after so many unusual, overgrown mixed borders.
The explanation is the need of contrast. In late Summer, when huge flowers overwhelm visitors meandering along, it is nice to have a corner where you can breath, see in the distance. After the wood, the clearance.
Contrast, one of Monet’s favorite painting trick.