What ‘vintage ‘ can do for your summer bedding colours
I’ve been talking vintage this week. Firstly, with garden designer, Caroline Garland, who’s identified ‘new vintage’ as an exciting new direction for people who don’t want their gardens to look too stark. Secondly, I’ve been sent a pile of Thrifty Chic, the book I co-wrote with Liz Bauwens, which is now out in paperback. It has lots of tips and tricks for making your house (and garden) look chic on very little money, by rummaging round junk shops and finding forgotten treasures in the attic.
So what is ‘vintage’ in gardens?
Caroline defines ‘new vintage’ as using softer, more traditional planting schemes in a contemporary layout. ‘It means you don’t have to throw everything out and start again – you can update your garden but keep your favourite plants or garden furniture. A garden can have clean lines and white walls or modern cedar fencing, then you soften it with a more classic planting. And it’s time to revive plants that have become unpopular, like macleaya, buddleia and stachys – think about how you can use them in a more modern context.’
How to stop ‘vintage’ looking old-fashioned
Garden fashions follow interiors fashions. Vintage has been big in homes for several years, which is why Thrifty Chic (and our subsequent book, Fleamarket Chic) has lots of junk shop finds in it. The key to keeping vintage fresh and chic – in both house and garden – is to mix it with more contemporary materials, such as limestone and hardwood. This summer you could set off your smart, modern terrace with a soft Jekyll-ian planting in harmonising pinks, purple and silver. ‘When choosing your colour schemes, think cream, for example, rather than white’ says Caroline. ”Vintage’ foliage is sage or grey-green, rather than acid green. And look up ‘old English’ flowers that have been forgotten about in recent years, like roses, poppies, peonies and scabious.’
‘New vintage’ in the middle-sized garden
We middle-sizers are as keen on style as anyone, but funds often mean that only part of our gardens can look fashionable – usually the bits we can see, like the terrace near the house. There is usually plenty of vintage lurking in the middle-sized garden – indeed I am thrilled to hear that the hydrangea aspera sargentiana planted by my predecessor can now be labelled ‘new vintage’ as I had been wondering what it was. Not long after talking to Caroline, I came across an old gardening book (pub 1994) called Best Borders by Tony Lord. It has some lovely planting schemes, such as a blue, silver, white and cream: stachys, echinops, aster, artemsia, antirrhinum, salvia, phlox and dahlia. In case you’re wondering – ‘vintage’ is 20 years plus, while ‘antique’ means, technically, 100 years. So definitely time to get exploring in the second-hand bookshops for inspiration this summer.