A fundamental aspect of all great Japanese gardens is that they are based on a strong composition that is well balanced but never symmetrical. Then today I meet this mystery patch in a sub-temple of Myoshinji Temple. Hmmm. Let’s see. Tree peonies (dead looking, but it is November, after all) in a straight line planted in the middle of a long rectangular box of stone (granite, I think) plopped almost but not quite in the middle if a long, rectangular courtyard of gravel. I have never seen anything like it in this country.
I know rules were meant to be broken - or at least tested by the great masters of any art, but does this composition work? No, sorry, it doesn’t.
I normally don’t like huge flowers. The big blooms of our four Magnolia grandiflora trees, certain alliums, and these peonies are three exceptions. And a few lines about colour… You’re right for thinking this is unusually dark for the front garden, but it isn’t a “hot” red, so it looks just fine with all of the other plants, especially the silvers. It definitely is singing loudly to be noticed, but with such a beautiful voice it’s not a problem…
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. Peonies, gorgeous peonies. One of the only really big flowers that I love. It’s everything about them - how they feel and smell as much if not more than how they look. And when they’re in a tall vase on a table and the first few petals drop… I’d chop the figers off of anyone who touches them if there are only a few and they’re freshly fallen… those first few petals on the table. God!