Although her first love was painting, Jacqueline van der Kloet seems to have made her peace with the medium her parents thought more practical—garden design. Her remarkable gardens both private and public throughout Europe, and in recent years, several highly visible U.S. gardens, including Millenium Park in Chicago and Battery Park in NYC, are testaments to her mastery.
When she began her design business near Amsterdam in 1986, she laid out an initial Tea Garden– “Theetuin” in Dutch. The garden sat between her residence and her office, and became the site of her intensive experimentation with plants. Anchored by clipped hedges of box and privet, she created beds interplanted with perennials, shrubs, roses and grasses creating– perhaps not surprisingly– a lush, painterly effect. When the International Flower Bulb Center—an organization representing Holland’s numerous bulb growers– contacted her to write about bulbs, she told them she knew very little about them. They responded by sending her a huge box of bulbs, and she made good use of them.
When she began planting bulbs in public settings, perhaps what was most obviously different about Ms van der Kloet’s approach was her colors. Not interested in standard blocks of uniformly red and yellow tulips, her gardens feature subtler color schemes, frequently echoing tones of the larger landscape.
In her own garden, she encourages bulbs to return year after year (many tulips have remained since 1992) by allowing the stems and leaves to grow and wither naturally. Surrounding plants help hide ripening foliage; she also insists that removing spent flowers is essential. Photographs illustrate how magnificently this approach works, as she creates overlays of bulbs that bloom sequentially, resulting in a continuous and rich tapestry lasting typically six to eight weeks. Van der Kloet prefers combining bulbs with perennials, and then adds summer flowering bulbs to further extend the season of interest.
Each garden she designs is the product of meticulous planning, precise timing, and striking artistic vision. When she designed and planted three tiered walkway gardens leading to the theater at the 2012 Floriade, bulbs were supposed to begin bloom in early May. When they had hardly surfaced and the day of opening ceremonies was imminent, she and her crew planted the eighteen acres with biennials supplied by a greenhouse grower. Eventually the original bulbs made their appearance, resulting in an eye-popping tapestry of color and texture on a truly grand scale.
Article copyright by Alice McGowan written for http://www.hartley-greenhouses.com