Tag Archives: bulbs

Dutch Master–Jacqueline van der Kloet

I first learned about Jacqueline van der Kloet, a Dutch designer celebrated for her innovative use of bulbs, two years ago when planning a garden tour to the Netherlands and Belgium. Last month, when that tour finally came to fruition, it was Jacqueline’s Tea Garden in Weesp, a small town near Amsterdam, which proved to be the great favorite of nearly everyone.

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The Tea Garden showcases naturalistic compositions of herbaceous plants among trees and shrubs.

The garden, which features naturalistic compositions of bulbs and other perennials, is planted among a framework of trees and shrubs. Harmonizing these herbaceous plants can be tricky, however, so the designer uses the space to experiment with combinations of color, texture, habit, and bloom time, perfecting the balance, rhythm, and “painterly effect” she is known for.

Arriving in Weesp, we were awed by the beauty and charm of surrounding grasslands, rivers, and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, as well as the town’s historic center. Handsome buildings dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth century, three classic windmills, and pristine waterways and roads make this area a lovely stop for tourists.

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Popular with tourists, Weesp is crisscrossed by rivers and the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.

Just steps from the historic district and tucked behind a fortified bastion built in 1674, the Tea Garden was found at the end of a short lane. There, cradled between an old barn remodeled into offices and a private residence, both painted a striking blue-green, the garden sparkled in the morning light.

Evergreen hedges and winding pathways establish a circular flow around the garden. Some of the woody plants grow in their natural form, but many are clipped. A large doublefile viburnum is trained into a small tree and many shrubs are shaped into fanciful forms, such as spirals, domes, and animals, including a peacock and teddy bear.

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Some shrubs are clipped into fanciful forms and animal shapes.

What truly distinguishes the garden, however, is the blend of perennials intertwined in loose, Impressionistic swaths, in a way that appears as if the flowers have sprung up on their own.

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The cool blue and purple throughout the garden is accented here with sharp yellow and orange.

Among the tulips, alliums, columbine, geums, poppies, lupins, and lacy umbels, the daffodils and hellebores of yesterday and the lilies and coneflowers of tomorrow were evident.  Foliage plants, such as hostas, ferns, and ornamental grasses, added layers of texture, while the smooth curves of pathways were intentionally (and charmingly) disrupted by the undulating forms of clipped box and spreading perennials.

The color scheme was restricted, but not static. Cool blue and purple flowed throughout the garden, accented with soft pink and salmon in some areas and bold chartreuse and orange in others. One of the most striking combinations featured blue cranesbill geraniums punctuated with golden Alexander (Smyrnium perfoliatum) and white, goblet-shaped tulips.

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White, goblet-shaped tulips stand tall above a mix of blue cranesbill geranium, golden Alexander (Smyrnium perfoliatum), and other herbaceous plants.

Interestingly, as a teenager, Jacqueline hoped to attend art school, but was dissuaded by parents who worried about her financial security. By chance, she met an old school friend training in landscape architecture and opted for a career in design, studying in Boskoop and Brussels and then designing public spaces with a firm before opening her own business with two colleagues in the 1980s and focusing on residential design.

We saw more of Jacqueline’s work at Keukenhof Gardens, possibly the world’s most overwhelming spring landscape with more than seven million tulips, daffodils, and other bulbs over 32 hectares.  In the United States, she has designed gardens for the New York Botanical Gardens and the Colorblends House and Spring Garden in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and worked in conjunction with Piet Ouldolf on various projects, including Battery Park in New York and the Lurie Garden in Chicago.

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Last look–a happy harmony of allium, columbine, and cranesbill geranium.

For more inspiration and information, take the opportunity to visit Jacqueline’s website found here.

Tulip Time

In November, I made out like a bandit when I found a variety of bargain bulbs at a local home store. Then, remembering the success of a blogging friend, Jason, I decided to plant a pair of containers in hopes of a colorful spring display for my front stoop. Here’s what the pots looked like in mid March.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Here’s what they look like today!

Tulip time!

Tulip time!

If you’re wondering who would plant pink tulips with orange and yellow tulips, let me explain.

End of season bargain bulbs.

End of season bargain bulbs.

Clearly, the bulb fairies had a bit of fun filling the “Spring Blend” bag, as the package only shows red, orange, and yellow tulips.

But I love the result! Don’t you?

Here’s the full bulb story in a nutshell:

Against expert advice, which discourages planting different blubs together because of varying bloom times, I decided to give it a try anyway. Bulbs in pots are typically planted much closer together and more shallow than bulbs in the ground, but I knew to arrange them so they were not touching and to provide plenty of soil under the blubs for adequate root growth. So, I added five inches of soil before carefully spacing the daffodils in the containers, and then added more layers of soil before arranging the tulips and, lastly, the grape hyacinths.

With planting complete, I watered the pots and huddled them against the wall of the garage under the overhang of the house, where cold temperatures could be somewhat moderated by the warmth of the brick wall and I could regulate soil moisture. I planned to keep the pots outside, but Old man winter had other ideas. The pots were moved inside the garage when temperatures plummeted.

At first, I made an effort to shift the containers outdoors on better days, but I soon became weary of the task and settled on leaving them in the garage. As the weeks rolled by, I simply forgot about the bulbs. Then, in mid February, I stumbled across the containers again when I was looking for my pruning shears. Surprisingly, the grape hyacinths had sprouted stringy, grass-like foliage, even though the bulbs hadn’t been watered in more than two months. As soon as the pots were returned outside and watered, the foliage perked up a bit. And it wasn’t long before the tips of tiny grape hyacinth blooms began to push through the soil. Within a few days, the daffodils were up and growing too.

You know the rest of the story.

Thanks for the inspiration, Jason. Pots of spring blubs are now an annual tradition in this Upstate garden.

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)