Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Urns of Darlington: Spring

As I wrote in my December essay on "The Urns of Darlington: Winter," I planned on posting pictures of our urns replanted with each season's flora.  Today I show the urns filled with their spring finery.  Gone are the evergreens that survived the cold weather, replaced with masses of deeply inky purple Viola.

To fill our urns we made a trip to Loomis Creek Nursery, a specialty retail nursery in Hudson, New York, owned and run by Andrew Beckman and Bob Hyland, plantsmen extraordinaire.  We are big fans of Loomis Creek, which grows and stocks unusual specimen plants not found in a typical garden center.  And that's not surprising, since Andrew is editorial director for gardening at Martha Stewart Living, and Bob is former vice president of horticulture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  We often find ourselves visiting Loomis Creek once or twice a weekend during planting season.

We bought three or four flats of Viola Sorbet Series 'Black Delight' from Loomis Creek to fill our urns.  As I wrote in my winter urn story, we plant our urns densely when we fill them with annuals, so that we have a profusion of flowers in the brief season before they are replaced with the next season's plants. 

Here is a photograph of one of our urns, just planted.  It has not yet come into flower.

Here are the urns that stand on either side of the kitchen entry to Darlington, in full flower.

Next is a closeup of the blossoms.  They are actually a deeper, darker purple than the photograph indicates.

This next photograph is of one of the urns leading up to our entry.  It is a more accurate representation of the flowers' color.

We have painted all of the metal garden furnishings at Darlington, including these urns, in Farrow & Ball's "Off-Black," No. 57.  I think they look particularly good in a high-gloss finish.

Here is the urn that stands at the base of the bluestone walkway to our house.  Boy photographed it in the late afternoon with the western sun raking through the Violas.

This concludes my tour of the spring planting of our urns at Darlington.  In only a few short weeks it will be time to replant them with their summer occupants . . . so please stay tuned!

All photographs by Boy Fenwick


  1. They are gorgeous Reggie and the color is one of my favorites. A very regal first impression.

    Art by Karena

  2. I love the purple pansies in the black urns...that will look great in the late fall too!

    I always enjoy these little peeks into the garden and Boy's fab photos!

  3. This reminds me of Beverley Nichols and the urns at Merry Hall. Too lovely.

  4. Beautiful. I love the deep color in the dark urns with all the bright spring green in the background.

  5. Mr. Reggie, Thank you for the beautiful photos of the your urns. I have a small urn fetish (no doctors are involved) so it's always nice to see them treated with respect and care.

  6. Such a nice shape to them- I'm enamored by the wider ones. I hope and trust you tuck those violas in somewhere, when they leave the urns...
    if not naturalize them on the edge of a wood lot... Cheers.

  7. Lovely. I love the richness of the purple paired with the the black of the urn.

  8. So nice, and a pleasant alternative to the usual violas seen in spring pastels (yellows and light blues). Do you deadhead them? Eager to learn what the choice will be for the summer months.

  9. Thanks for the commentary one and all, I am glad that you like the combination of dark purple and F&B "Off-Black".

    Izzy: We give the spent plants to Rich, our handyman/helper/gardner at the end of the season, who plants them on his property. He has spent the better part of this past week tending/edging/mulching our grounds with handsome consequences, much to our gratitude.

    Teaorwine: Yes, indeed, we (Boy) deadhead the violas, they benefit from it. Summer we often do a mix of coleus and vines or ornamental grasses. Stay tuned for photos of our screened porch, too, which we set up this past weekend.

  10. The combination of colors is stunning. I'm not a huge fan of pansies, but these are perfection.

  11. The "off Black" is really the last word in chic. You see a variation of the color used on trim and outdoor furniture and objects in Paris, rarely other places. Something tells me that you're three steps ahead of me and have the next few seasons mapped out, but here's a summer suggestion: purple Heliotrope, redish, purple and green coleus and Chartreuse potato vine.

  12. Hello Magnus: We are great fans of multi-colored coleus combined with potato vines, particularly in the larger of our urns. Now heliotrope has not been on the radar screen, so that is a terrific suggestion! Thanks, Reggie

  13. They are absolutely beautiful! The purple is fabulous with the dark green urns. I love Viola's. I had some last year and they lasted all summer. I also bought a few large trays of pansies which have survived from last September until now x

  14. So lovely.
    Such a sophisticated colour.

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