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An Offbeat Introduction to Plants

Right now, there exists a spectacular multiplicity of life on this planet. At this moment buffalo are roaming the plains of Africa, seals are hunting fish in the seas surrounding the South Pole, bullet ants are building nests in the wet, hot rainforests of Nicaragua and, perhaps of more immediate interest, you are reading this blog post.

Every day, we bear witness to the abundance of living organisms around us, be they our loved ones, our pets, wild animals, or even the fungus growing on the inside of your wheelie bin. None of this would be possible without the perennial core, the growing heart, the green foundation, the root of all life – plants. Forming the ecological basis of every food chain in every corner of the Earth, plants make this abundance and complexity possible, and their importance for the development of life can be seen most clearly in the history of humanity.

It can’t come as a surprise to you that plants have formed a fundamental basis for our food, alcohol, medicine, scientific endeavour, infrastructure, and culture for thousands of years. To this day, human civilisation around the world is supported by these living beings.

“no assemblage of living things communicates with our senses quite like plants do”

We all utilise plants extensively, in many areas of our life, which is something often overlooked. We communicate with plants, emblazoning them on flags around the globe, from the Yorkshire Rose to the Canadian maple leaf. We give each other live flowers as tokens of love, gratitude, or friendship.

We create a vast and dependable infrastructure out of plants, growing wheat, barley, and rice in spectacular quantities for our food, harvesting trees from purposely planted forests for our building materials, and processing pine pulp to disseminate information on paper. Our health has been maintained by plants since the beginnings of human society, from traditional herbal remedies to modern day ethnopharmacological research.

Our inner lives are enriched by music, played on instruments made from wood, and our creativity is channelled into glorious parks and gardens that instil happiness and calm in generation after generation of passers-by. Good for the soul, good for the body – huge urban planting schemes are sweeping cities around the globe, in an effort to purify the air and reverse the effects of climate change. Scientific progress has benefitted greatly from plant life – from Gregor Mendel’s breeding of pea plants in the 19th century, an important milestone in genetic research, to quantum research into mechanics of photosynthesis.

“What about the sound of a 100-foot-tall lime…creaking in the wind?”

And surely, no assemblage of living things communicates with our senses quite like plants do. Consider the sight of a field of tulips, or the smell of a rose garden. What about the sound of a 100-foot-tall lime, an often-planted street tree, creaking in the wind? Or the taste of coffee in the morning, an apple for lunch, rice with your evening meal.

“Surely you must have enjoyed the pleasant haze after a glass or two of your favourite wine:

Have you ever lay down in a field and felt the brushing of grass against your skin? Surely you must have enjoyed the pleasant haze after a glass or two of your favourite wine, or the warmth of a roaring coal fire? A huge part of your life is directly affected by plants, and we here at Colour Your Garden would like to invite you to discover a beautiful world that we know has changed ours.

Igor Knowlson

Igor is our resident Brainiac who writes monthly on his thoughts on plants
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Musings on plants


Wynyard Hall Walled Garden – designed by Alistair Baldwin and planted by Colour Your Garden and David Austin Roses


The Colour Your Garden blog

A warm welcome to the all-new Colour Your Garden blog! This blogging caper is new to me, so bear with me while I take the plunge and set sail into the netscape of (hopefully) useful and (hopefully) interesting musings on the wonderful world of plants.

I’m going to be writing on a range of topics, with the common theme of all things horti, and I’m going to be opening a window or two into some of our planting projects to give you readers a behind the scenes glimpse of the gritty, rewarding, often muddy and always colourful process of creating planting schemes, both large and small.

I’ve never really been one for the ‘here’s a picture of what I’m about to eat, isn’t it fascinating’ genre of blog, so the aim here is to share pictures, thoughts and experiences which, over time, encourage you to try out new plants, experiment with combinations and generally get the kind of understanding of planting design and management which leads you to your own discoveries and successes in the garden.

As well as sharing our own ventures into painting with plants, I will be looking at the work of other designers, from the UK and overseas, and delving into the detail of how they achieve and indeed maintain such stunning effects. We’ve all drooled over the glossy pictures…I’m going to open up the bonnet and see how they really work!

You’re all busy folks out there, so I’m thinking that a weekly scribbling with some juicy pictures will be a good starting point, and I’ll start next week with some of the building blocks of planting design and an introduction to one of our current planting design projects. I’ll take you through the early stages, and share the process as we go along, so you can see the project evolve as I go through it on the ground…I think the blogging cognoscenti (a group to which I can only aspire to belong!) call it a creative arc…

Finally, as I’m based here at our nursery between the fair city of Ripon and the equally fair town of Thirsk in North Yorkshire, I will be telling you all about the fantastic plants that we grow – some interesting snippets about the species you know and love as well as the new varieties and cultivars we come across on our travels. Plant breeders are a busy and productive lot, so there are always new introductions cropping up at the flower shows and glossies, so we will be getting them under your collective noses and telling you the what, where and how!