Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Passion For PURPLE: Art and Gardening with One of My Favorite Colors

My birthday was yesterday and I celebrated by taking myself to one of my favorite antique malls in Hagerstown, MD – Beaver Creek on Rt. 40 – where I had the pleasure of gifting myself with the loveliest garden book, “The Gardens and Accoutrements of James Cramer”.  James has several booths at Beaver Creek and thanks to his wonderful vintage collections my purse is now a bit lighter and my new home and gardens are enjoying the benefit of his practiced eye.  I was lucky enough to find him at the antique mall so I came home with a signed copy!

“A must have for any gardener, OR for any country antiques lover,” according to And I could not agree more!

The photography is magnificent and the text is alive with the voice of one who gardens from the heart:

"The first fifteen years of my childhood were spent living with my great-grandmother in her white farmhouse at the edge of a small town. Her large garden, mainly vegetables, started at the back door and took up the entire yard. There was a path down the middle that led to the old chicken house. I later came to realize that this was a victory garden and my great-grandmother wanted to be self-sustaining during and after the war.”

But it was the Allium Purple Sensation on the front cover of James’s book that really caught my eye! The photo above shows some Purple Sensation Alliums that I planted at my previous home. I even spray painted them with purple floral spray after the color faded – right there where they were growing! I simply could not let them go! And of course, I’ve just planted some of them in my new home in West Virginia so I can enjoy them here next spring.

I just love purple in my gardens! In my Richmond house I started the season early with a mix of species crocus to greet me when getting in and out of my car. I like the species variety since they are not favored by rodents, same as with the allium (so I’ve read). These are Blue Pearl, Ruby Giant and Spring Beauty, and this photo was taken the first year of bloom. No doubt by now they have multiplied and filled in nicely (for the new homeowner, that is!)

The purple crocus was then followed by my favorite miniature daffodil – Tete-a-Tete - surrounded of course by purple viola.

 Even my front door in Richmond was purple!

 I also enjoy growing purple viola and pansies in flower pots…..

as well as purple miniature African violets on a sunny window sil. Yes, this is a mini – not your typical full size African violet at all. I adore the minis and blogged about them here.

 And of course I include purple flowers in some of my painted pottery pieces

 and purple sheep, too.

I even painted a purple birdie once, believe it or not!

Well, its not too late to plant some of those gorgeous Allium Purple Sensation if you hurry! I planted mine earlier this month, but here in the Mid Atlantic Zone 6b we’re having unseasonably warm weather lately. I purchased my allium and species crocus from Van Engelen  – great quality and the very best prices – and they’ll ship them out to you pronto! Order qualities are quite large to get their best prices, but do what I did and split the order (and shipping cost!) with a friend! As of today Van Engelen still has several varieties available.

And don’t forget to grab a copy or 2 of James Cramer’s new book before it sells out – what a wonderful gift it would be to give this holiday season!