COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER: Use painter’s example to color your garden

Marianne Binetti will present a free lecture on fall gardening starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Swanson’s Nursery in Seattle.

The French really know how to live – and how to create gardens as works of public art.

We are still unpacking from leading a tour of gardens in Paris and the French Riviera. Returning home, I found my own lawn lush and deep green and my weeds tall and healthy. I am reminded that our rainy climate grows the best moss, lawns and rhododendrons, but the French have a hold on gardens as works of art.

Let me start with Monet. Even the French will admit it was American art collectors who first acknowledged the genius of Claude Monet as the father of the impressionist movement in painting. It also was Americans who helped to fund and restore Monet’s home and much-painted garden in the charming town of Giverny, just outside of Paris. But it was the French who added more museums to the town and included flower gardens and outdoor art installations to make it a Mecca for garden lovers as well as students of impressionistic art.

But you don’t need to fly to Paris for ideas that add Monet’s inspiration to your own garden.

Take-home ideas from Monet’s garden:

1Add some “shimmer” to your landscape picture.

Monet used climbing pink roses, clematis in three different varieties and an often-painted arbor of wisteria to create a lace curtain effect in his country garden. The idea was to diffuse the colors and forms so the scene would “shimmer” or blur through the draping vines of flowers.

If you’re a neat and tidy gardener with clipped hedges and a predictable row of flowers and shrubs, adding some shimmer with climbing vines will help you to loosen up and bring romance and a bit of mystery to the scene.

If, like me, you garden with a more naturalistic flair, adding vines and tall perennials will only help to blur the weeds and empty spots and give the overall landscape a look of carefree abundance. Abundance is a good word to use should anyone question the amount of weeds popping up in the flower beds. Monet encouraged a few flowering weeds and native plants like yellow iris himself. Just call any weedy corner an “impressionistic inspiration” and consider it nature’s work of art.

2 Use color harmonies that are cool (pink, baby blue, lavender) or warm (gold, red, orange)

Fall is for planting bulbs so this week you can make-like-Monet and plant pink tulips with a companion planting of blue forget-me-nots. Add lavender aubrietia as an edging along pathways and contrast these cool colors with white iberia or candytuft. Monet uses a lily-flowered tulip called “Monet Lisa” in his garden, but any pink tulip paired with lavender, blue and white spring-blooming perennials will give your garden the softness and shimmer of an impressionistic painting.

Fall is also for adding perennials and you can imitate the warm or hot color combinations in Monet’s garden by filling a container or corner of the landscape with vivid yellow sunflowers, orange and red double-flowering dahlias and then salt the warm colors with white New England asters.

Monet loved to use white flowers to lead the eye along a vista and in the fall garden, the tall stems of Japanese anemone nod in the autumn breeze. You can buy Japanese anemone now at local nurseries and this slug- and drought-resistant perennial blooms in sun or shade.

3 Add a “Monet Style” curved, back bench.

So here’s the story about the benches in Monet’s garden. They are all painted deep green to match the shutters of his home. The back of each bench also has a graceful curve imitating the more casual style seen in Marie Antoinette’s country garden at the palace of Versailles. Monet visited Versailles, was smitten with the fluid lines of the bench and then commissioned a collection of these benches to use in his garden. Back in the U.S., you can find this same curving style at garden centers, nurseries and online. Use your computer to find a seller by putting the words “Monet style garden bench” into your computer’s search engine.

Fall is for planting, but also for planning, so let Monet impress you with the beauty of a casual garden style.

• • •

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.

For more gardening information, she can be reached at her website,

Copyright for this

column owned by Marianne Binetti.

More in Life

New Enumclaw wine bar aims for broad audience

Bordeaux Wine Bar is scheduled to be open Wednesdays through Sundays.

Once you start “The Last Cowboys,” you won’t want to stop

You can’t take it with you. People have tried for millennia to… Continue reading

Spend Mother’s Day with mom reading stories from ‘Tough Mothers’

Your mom is tough as nails. The minute you were placed in… Continue reading

Fun run for Mary Kay Foundation May 19

There will be awards for the top overall male and female, as well as an award for the top 5K finisher in both the 40+ and youth (13 and younger) categories.

The power of the powwow | Slideshow

Enumclaw High School and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe put together the 23rd annual powwow last weekend.

Past the gushing, gruesome details ‘The Trauma Cleaner’ is worth a read

Wash your hands thoroughly. That’s good advice, no matter where you are.… Continue reading

‘They Lost Their Heads’ should help answer your questions

Your neck bone’s connected to your back bone. And that’s a good… Continue reading

Sometimes to have faith, all you need is to believe

Today, you are feeling secure. The world’s woes don’t worry you this… Continue reading

Two free park days in April | Washington State Parks Commission

For April 14 and April 22, you won’t need a Discover Pass to visit state parks.

If you could turn back time, would you?

If you could, would you take it all back? Every misunderstanding, cross… Continue reading

While focusing on athletic endurance, this book also relates to everyday life

You need a shave. It’s been awhile and, though you’ve been grooming… Continue reading