Inspiration for: Morris Style Bulb Planting
The season of planting spring flower bulbs is here, and this year we have embarked on a more creative spin with our planting inspiration from the art world, specifically the crisp, vivid representations of glorious flora and fauna from the paintings of the late British painter and horticulturist, Cedric Morris (1889-1982).
Deemed the “grandfather of the Benton iris” for his famous breeding of tall-bearded irises, Morris fused his passions for gardening and art into a cyclical dialogue, producing a plethora of colourful hybrids (up to ninety varieties of tulips) that the artist depicted just as vibrantly with his paintbrush.
“It is not “the flowers’ beauty that he was painting, or even exactly their look, so much as their life”
Revered by botanists and gardeners alike, Morris’ influential garden at Benton End was deemed a by-product of divine-given artistry. At the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the ‘Nurture Landscapes Garden’ designed by Sarah Price was an ode to Cedric Morris’ naturalistic curation; a physical representation of his astonishing creativity, adorned in a textural, earthly-toned palette accompanied by luminescent shades from the Benton Iris, Elaeagnus Quicksilver, and other Morris cultivars.
Painted in his sought-after post-Impressionist style, we have turned to the “Easter Bouquet”, an abundant flower painting of Morris’ from 1934, for our colourful piece of reference. A canvas filled with an array of blooming perennials and bulbs intertwined, we are taken on an excursion of colour, and become enticed by the possibilities of creating such a display of our own.
Through the organic method of companion planting - growing plants together that are mutually beneficial - the arresting array of botanicals depicted in “Easter Bouquet” from the yellows and peachy reds within the Narcissi, Tulips, Hellebores and Fritillaria imperialis, are elevated by the unusual structures of the Euphorbia, gallantly framing these exotic blooms.
To achieve a dramatic display, arrange your design in a large container, or alternatively plant in a bed depending on the volume of bulbs. In their natural habitats, flowering bulbs are almost always found growing with native grasses and perennial plants and thus, bulbs are lovely companion plants to encourage a natural-looking planting scheme. Plant the perennials first, in this case the Hellebores and the Euphorbia, and orbit with the Narcissi, Fritillaria and Tulip bulbs. The Hellebores will add interest throughout the winter whilst in wait for the rest of the plants to bloom into action in spring.
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