The Nichols garden was my favorite of the fling. It bedazzled me. Unfortunately, my photos don't seem to capture the magic of this garden, so I must try to explain, somehow, why it dazzled me.
The genius of the place:
Okay, for one thing, it clearly illustrated the way in which harmonious color combinations can create a greater beauty than the plants would have had alone and isolated.
There were places for the eyes to rest, as well.
For another thing, every single plant in the whole damn garden looked happy and healthy and thriving!
For another thing, the forms and shapes of plants echoed or complemented each other as to create magic.
For another thing, every bit of space was well-utilized. It was a small garden--a small sloping front yard...
a steep stairway-and-landing pathway up one side of the house, with a pool or stream on each landing...
then a small patio, tiny shed, and three little terraces ending in a bench by a fence.
But every area, vignette, plant, object, space created a mood, a look, a feeling worth lingering with.
For another thing, everywhere you looked, a tender touch of beauty. Nothing left plain, yet nothing overwrought.
A few pots on the patio was a master-class in texture.
For another thing, color was perfectly handled. One moved from a white scene that transitioned into acid green and on into colors without startling the eye, and in places an array of warm colors all worked together. Excitement, not chaos.
For another thing, there were some bitchen plants.
Yes! Aloe polyphylla!
For another thing, there were sculptural elements that were cute without being cutesy...
elegant without being boring...
...organic without being clumsy.
They added to the garden; they were structure, not mere jewelry.
For another thing, it was highly refined. The garden is the product of thirty years of experimentation and work; it is clear the owner/gardener knows what to plant where and how to enable a plant to thrive.
In short this garden was a machine firing on all cylinders, and what we saw was what it was--no empty patches had been quickly stuffed with a flat of annuals...
...nowhere hung the raw smell of new mulch--this garden had not gotten a quickie spruce up--no lipstick on a pig, no containers hurridly plopped down to jazz things up a bit--it really was that beautiful.
This garden was just the garden I needed to see at this point in my gardening life--earlier I would have not caught the subtleties of color and form...
...the cultivated taste in ornamentation--later perhaps with a more jaded eye, I will think it well done for what it was, but small, and not my style, and I would have missed the joy I felt seeing it that day.
Sometimes it so happens that you get what you need.