Moss in the Garden

In her new book, Garden Inspirations, designer Charlotte Moss celebrates the pleasures of gardening, al fresco entertaining, flower arranging and lush garden travel.



A Garden is the Only Mistress who Never Fails:

When Beverley Nichols wrote …“that a garden is the only mistress who never fails, who never fades,” anyone who has ever tended to a plot or 40 acres agreed. Gardening, like any creative endeavor, is as much about the dreaming and imagining as it is about plotting, planting, digging, potting, puttering and trimming.

Advice for a Gardener:

Vita Sackville-West formulated several principles of gardening that would serve the novice well to memorize…First: Have a plan….There is the architecture of the garden, the seasonal ebb and flow of blooms and a color scheme. Second: Be ruthless. If it doesn’t work, if it isn’t beautiful, if it doesn’t please you, then OUT….Third: Perfection is not a goal. A little unruliness, the occasional random self-seeding is OK.

The Relation of House to Garden:

Creating a garden means giving consideration to the house, its aspect, the views from the windows, the places you will sit outside, the paths leading from one place to the next and what will greet you at the front door.

On Garden Paths:

All good garden paths should lead to loitering with fine intent, and if they don’t, then something is wrong indeed. Loitering is horticulturally permissible behavior.”

–Robert Dash as quoted in Charlotte Moss’ Garden Inspirations.

On Garden Seating:

Like rooms in a house, exterior rooms also want furnishings. Drawing your eye to a quiet corner, at the end of an allée, or under a tree, garden seating begs you to stay awhile, to sit and enjoy the view and the fruits of your labor.

On Water Music:

Flowing, trickling, or still, water adds music, reflection and movement to a garden. Water is the element in the garden that creates atmosphere, sound and a visual break from the shades of green.

On Ornaments and Objects:

Statues, urns on pedestals, and antique tools are among the items I’ve chosen to decorate the garden. The flow of green is punctuated by objects, following the belief of Henri Matisse, “the object is not so interesting in itself. It is the surroundings that create the object.” Urns serve as anchors in beds, statues draw your eye to other gardens, a garden roller and a Victorian watering cart act as ornaments — freestanding on the lawn and casually leaning against an oak tree.

Single-Flower Arrangements:

…I have always said that an arrangement containing a single type of flower can make anyone look like a flower-arranging genius. There is no anxiety about what goes with what…Single flower arrangements are about simplicity, and, of course, the vessel that holds them takes on greater appearance.

White Flower Arrangements:

Of all the exciting color schemes I have experimented with… I always come back to white and green. The clarity, calm, purity and fragile elegance of white flowers make them a luxurious garden treasure. From the smiling face of pansies to the tall stems of gentle stock and the intoxicating and explosive blossoms of Casa Blanca lilies, each and every one have a unique meaning and history — some even an aura of mystery.

We Must Have Roses:

Anyone who grows roses, has grown roses, or reads or dreams about growing roses knows one thing: roses are not without their challenges. However, the benefits, the beauty and the joy far exceed any and all heartache.

On French Gardens:

The repetition of boxwood, yew and hornbeam, stalwarts of the French garden, creates an overall harmony — a symphony in green. The training of plants through the use of topiary, espaliers, and clipped hedges and the relentless pursuit of symmetry produce gardens that are precise but not stiff in their formality.

On Italian Gardens:

Villa Gamberaia represents everything I love about Italian gardens: vistas and walks punctuated with statuary, seductive water features and the shade of monumental pines….

On Armchair Gardening:

There is a certain wicked pleasure you can derive from enjoying a gardening life vicariously. I believe there are armchair gardeners out there having quite a grand time reading about the experiences of others, dreaming about the perfect Miss Jekyll herbaceous borders, parterres to put Le Nôtre to shame and roses that could turn Empress Josephine green with envy.

Garden Inspirations by Charlotte Moss (Rizzoli), $50, rizzoliusa.com