Writer Sharman Burson Ramsey





A Simply Southern Wedding.





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A Southern Monet Garden: A How To

See Also: Herb Garden


The Monet Garden in my yard has a story. In planting a Southern Monet Garden, one must first one must understand Monet’s theories of gardening from an artist’s perspective and then one must choose those plants from Monet’s design which will prosper in a Southern garden. I used Vivian Russell’s Monet’s Garden, Charles Prost’s The Garden of Monet, and Derek Fell’s Monet’s Garden as resource materials.

I began to understand the garden as a palette upon which Monet practiced his color theories, combining red-green-silver, blue-pink-white, yellow-violet, and orange-blue. He preferred single flowers (flowers with a single row of petals) because of their translucence when backlit and their reflective properties when front lit. The play of light upon the garden determined where a plant was planted. Cool colors appeared where the sun rose and hot colors appeared in the sunset borders.

According to Derek Fell, "The most common wayside plants in his garden were white oxeye daisies, crimson corn poppies, yellow flat iris, and wispy oat grasses. He called these plants, ‘the soul of the garden.’ The Oxeye daisies and oat grasses added to the shimmer, and the appearance of diminutive corn poppies and wavy yellow flat irises were like fluttering butterflies."Poppies and Bachelor’s Buttons Suddenly my garden took on an aesthetic dimension far beyond my original understanding of gardening. I had always responded to Impressionist art, but yet had failed to recognize the potential sensory opportunities in garden design. Monet teased the senses visually lifting the garden from the earth with arches of roses along a main pathway. Color, movement, sound, and smell all became elements to optimize the enjoyment of the little piece of the world with which God had given me to nurture.

The design plan expanded. Christie, my friend, fellow Master Gardener and mentor, sighed. She knew the immensity of our endeavor.

Marcel Proust wrote: "If one day I can see Claude Monet's gardens, I feel that I will see, in a garden of nuances and colors, more than flowers, I will see a garden which seems to be less a traditional floral garden and more of a colorists garden, for example some flowers arranged in an ensemble that is not quite like nature, since they have been planted in such a way that those which blossom at the same time have nuances that harmonize in a pink or blue range; and that the artists intention, so powerfully manifested has dematerialized in some way, all that is not color.  Earth flowers and also water flowers, these delicate water lilies that the master has depicted in sublime paintings of which this garden (a true transposition of art, more than a model for paintings, a painting already executed within nature which is illuminated under the eye of a great artist) is like a first and living sketch." (Les Eblouissements by the Countess de Noailles, Figaro, June 15, 1902)
Poppies in Monet Garden
I studied my books and made a chart of the different plants Monet used for the different seasons in his garden.

Chart of plants and their season in Monet’s Garden

Spring Summer Borders /Autumn
Imperial crowns
German irises
White Phlox
Perennial geraniums
Linaria(toad flax)




Tea rose
German iris
Leopard's- bane


Pink and red Pelargonium
Pink tulips
Blue forget-me nots
Pink and Red double daisies
Blue-violet irises
Purple irises
Heliopsis delphiniums
Yellow Marigolds
Oriental poppies
Mountain clematis
Climbing roses


Japanese anemones
Carpathan bellflowers


Japanese anemones
Morning glories
Mountain clovers
Cactus Dahlias
Tobacco plant
Sweet peas
Golden rod


Sweet Peas on the old scuppernong arbor fence


MIX -Shirley Poppies- Larkspur-Indian Spring Holly                                                                  Hocks


Lunaria-Rose Mallow-Corn Poppies-Blue Boy Bachelors Buttons-Hollyhocks (Charters double)


Rose Mallow-Lunaria-Johnny Jump-ups-Nigella-Rhode's Shirley-Delphiniums


Dwarf Larkspur-California Poppies-Sweet Peas-Clary Sage-Shepherds Old Fashioned Poppies

We divide the seed to fit the plan. 

Sweet Peas have been soaked overnight

The Plan for the Southern Monet Garden                                       


mushroom compost preparation

The Southern Monet Garden began on September 20, 1999, with bed preparation.   Chris and Bryan arrived with energy, tools and a vision to begin the process of creating our Southern Monet Garden.  We realized that with my sandy soil, the foundation would be critical to success.  Weeding and watering would be crucial to success and enjoyment.  We decided to implement the fallowing method suggested by Ed Givhan, Montgomery, Alabama physician, in his book, Conversations with a Southern Gardener. Givhan recommends preparing the bed, leaving it to lie fallow for several weeks to see which weeds will pop up. Those weeds are then zapped with Round-up. Only then are we ready to follow through on planting our seeds. Then we just sat back and wait for those weed seed to show themselves. September 21, 1999, was the day we tilled the soil after the beds had been cut in the sod.


designSeptember 22, 1999 Mushroom Compost was added to the new beds to enrich the soil BryanStep 4  Then came the fun art…planting already established plants. Bryan at Dothan Nurseries designed the background for the Southern Monet Garden.  With his artist's eye he strategically placed plants using color, size and shape as visual elements while pleasing the other senses with plants with smells that enhance the garden environment

The corners of the house are anchored with pyramidal Carolina Holly. Radican Gardenias soften the edges coming around the corner in front of the Holly. Variegated Pittosporum and Lorapetalum with beautiful burgundy leaves and a spring blooming pink flower provide background against the house. Tea Olive grows higher in the areas between the windows. Lacy pink spirea flank the sod pathway. Pellea fern grows in front of the bay windows. Sage, Basil, and Thyme are planted in front of the Fern.

Old fashioned blue pansies grow low in front of the porch.  An arbor covered with coral vine and French hydrangea grow in the shade of the south side of the house.  Antique and David Austen Roses surround the bench on the northern side of the house.  Climbing roses grow over the arches above the brick walk (+ Antique and David Austen between the roses)  Old fashioned purple thrift is the ground cover beneath the roses.



October 23, 1999  was seed planting time.



Hollyhocks take special care. 
These seed must be punched into the ground individually (about 2") and covered with soil.

 We mixed the seed with builders sand and then shook the mixture over the area of the bed she had plotted for those seed.    
We pat down the soil to ensure seedlings have firm contact.
 After labeling the plots so that we will know what to look for in differentiating seedlings from potential weeds,
Jo Ann sprayed the seedbed with water.  This helps set the seed and start germination.  planting


 December 10, 1999 Germination actually began only two weeks after planting, but the plants were so tiny they were hard to photograph. 
Truly one cannot tell the difference in the plants with only two leaves.  They must have at least four for differentiation. 


Poppies California Poppies Oxeye Daisies Nigella (Looks VERY much like Larkspur and Daisy Queen Anne's Lace)
Rose Mallow Lunaria
seedlings poppies seedling seedling
Clary Sage (has kind of a fuzzy mint leaf)          



Apply PREEN for weed control before the weeds germinate. Use a light coat, EXCEPT IN THE SEED BEDS! (We want the weeds to germinate in the seed bed so we can zap them with Round Up.) Use this once a month ALL YEAR.

Use Round Up to zap the weeds in the seed bed. Then spot spray WEEKLY. Hand weeding will still be necessary, but will be much better if taken care of with diligence.

FERTILIZE with Florikan 15-4-9 w/ Nutricote
Apply every 3-4 months (all year)

Mulch with Pine Straw. It is actually easier to place the pine straw in the bed before planting little annuals like Pansies. But not in the seed garden. Seedlings need light to germinate.

WATER, WATER, WATER, preferably in the morning

Lunaria is the first to blossom. These beautiful fragile spires are Lunaria.  The tiny blooms resemble Easter eggs.  As you can see we now have a great stand of "greens."  Gardeners will recognize the poppies of all different types.  (February 28, 2000) As you can see, all of our efforts have produced something beautiful.  All the watering during the drought, the weeding, the shifting around so that plants would have room to grow have come together.  And we've only just begun!!!!


Watering remains critical.  We still reach temperatures in the high seventies in the middle of December.  These plants are large enough to transplant.  Select an overcast day in which to transplant so the seedlings will not dry out.  Use a spoon to scoop up a clump of soil around a seedling to transplant to a space in your bed where seeds may not have sprouted.  I use the soil scoop.  We also reseeded an area near the walk with more poppies. Arches were added to the Southern Monet Garden to incorporate the same vertical gardening technique that Monet used so effectively. Climbing New Dawn and Zephrine Drouhin were planted to grow over the arches. At the same time weeds that had sprung up in the fallowed beds were zapped with Round up. I later added a Dorothy Perkins rose my Aunt Elizabeth had brought to her home from my Grandmother Burson’s home in Furman, Alabama. It is a runner an is difficult to turn into a climber, but the thought is there. I also added Confederate jasmine to the arches because they are so beautiful, deliciously scented and patriotic.
Poppies and Larkspur

"The sin of pride was upon me." Celestine Sibley

This is what makes gardening worthwhile. Here you see poppies, bachelor’s buttons, Queen Anne's Lace, and violas. Our lunaria continues to bloom. Unfortunately, we have had some very hard rains that have beaten down some of our beautiful flowers. We should have thinned our poppies more drastically so that air could circulate a bit more near the roots. Some that were sown in another bed actually got the dreaded "root rot" and had to be pulled up. This picture reminds one that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever." Some of these exquisite blooms resemble peonies, while others have a single row of translucent petals. Those were Monet's favorites. Monet loved to capture the light reflecting through the petal of a bloom.

The Southern Monet garden has been gorgeous with outstanding poppies. By April 22 they were turning to seed. The garden was then in transition from Spring to Fall. I pulled out many of the poppies and replaced them with cleome, touch-me-nots, and cosmos. Sunflowers will soon be planted as well. One patch of poppies, sown late, was just coming into bloom. This was a good lesson in staggered planning.

Gathering seeds is one of gardening’s greatest pleasures, especially with poppies. I spread my seed upon newspapers on an old screen in the rafters of my greenhouse so that they will dry. I then collect the seeds in paper bags and look forward to repeating the planting process --and sharing my seeds!