Fine Gardening

The new issue (No. 118, Dec-07) has an interview with Napa County designer Brandon Tyson who, if the pictures of his work are any indication, is very good at what he does. The piece is titled Designing with Form & Texture. Sounds good! I'm all about form and texture.

Should I be disappointed when the interview sends mixed messages?

Consider the discussion of cuphea.
"Cupheas have a weak form but possess an extremely light, fine texture. They can set a receptive mood in which to stage more-assertive plants."

Okay, pair cuphea with assertive plants. I'm on board with that. But then there's this:
"Many of the sculptural plants that I love to use--beaked yucca, for example--have powerful forms, smooth textures, and subtle colors. [Sounds like an assertive plant!--ed.] If you combine them with another plant with the same qualities, the combination comes alive. Surround beaked yucca with cuphea--a lively plant that I see more as texture and color and less as form--and the yucca will steal the show."

But I thought we should use cuphea to set a receptive mood to stage assertive plants...?

Well, whatever. Design is an art, and you can't teach it like a science. Me, I am a scientist, and design can be a real challenge. I expect that, and I don't really mind. I enjoy tweaking my garden, and it's possible I enjoy the process more than the result. Well, that's me.

I have a cuphea on my roof deck. Cuphea turns out to be an excellent container plant for a hot, sunny roof in San Francisco. This one's looking a little piqued right now, but aren't we all? I had it with a fine-textured, hyper-flowery white angelonia and dusty lavendar agastage--it was horrible. Today, I took those out and added passalong orange-flowering aloe and passalong orange-flowering Cotyledon orbiculatum v. longifolium.


I happen to really like orange.


Pam/Digging said...

Chuck, when I read that paragraph a couple of days ago, I mentally inserted a "However," before the sentence that begins, "Surround beaked yucca with cuphea . . . " It could be written more clearly, but I think he's trying to say that cuphea is NOT a plant with the same qualities as the beaked yucca.


In any case, I'd love to see a cuphea paired with one of your fabulous echiums.

chuck b. said...

Right, I think that's what he's saying too. But in the first paragraph, he says use cuphea with assertive plants. In the second he says don't use cuphea with assertive plants.

And on page 42, it says cuphea works best in masses.

I think the end result is, "What the frack should I do with cuphea?"

With the Echium, huh? Hmmm.

JvA said...

I don't think I'll renew my Garden Design subscription. I tire of their obsession with $2,400 containers. I want to see more plants in the ground.

Deviant Deziner said...

I haven't read this months issue of FG but I am looking forward to seeing Brandons work.
I have long admired his use of big bold in your face foliage plants.

I think what he was saying ( and the writing staff at FG may have gotten mixed up )
When the 'star of the show' ( YUCCA ) is paired up with a good supporting actor ', ( CUPHEA ) , the yucca will steal the show but his performance will be all the more richer and enhanced due to the supporting actors contribution.

Having had my own words re-written by the fine folks at Fine Gardening, I know that sometimes a quote or sentence doesn't always get translated properly in their articles.

As for Brandon, - he is one of the best mix masters of plants currently working these days.

You'll probably meet him Chuck if you attend the Cal Hort meetings. He ocassionally attends and will most likely be at the next meeting when friend and fellow designer David Feix speaks on Bromeliads.


Annie in Austin said...

There are 3 kinds of cuphea in my garden and each one has a different form - mounding, sprawling, upright - as well as differences in flower color, leaf size and plant density. I'm not a designer, and when the author [or editor, or whoever] just says 'cuphea', it doesn't help me learn about design.

I do like that blue-green alow in with the orange cuphea, Chuck!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose