So many people lately have been using the nandina pictures from this blog. Hooray! So as opposed to posting more simple pictures of the nandina in my gardens, here is how I think about the bushes in composition.
“Four Seasons” is the name of a work of art the late artist Marc Chagall gave to the citizens of Chicago in 1970. It is permanently installed in the Art Institute of Chicago. For fans of pattern, it is a masterwork. Also for fans of Mr. Chagall.
What does “Four Seasons” have to do with Nandina?
Pattern sets up expectations in a work of art. We see an organization of spots, for example, in one area of a painting. When used in another area, the viewer says, “Yeah, I get it. This is part of the same visual world, where the pattern is part of the language.” The two spotted areas work together, or are unified.
Identifying the pattern on the side of this three dimensional work is easy. The yellow areas of tile organizes the work. The yellow is repeated all over this side of the mosaic. The repeat of the yellow is part of the fantastic world that Chagall presents. Within this patterned structure, he can include all sorts of figures, and the strong yellow pattern will hold them all in place, no matter how different they are. And above, the blue shapes of the figures are very different in size and strength.
Pattern serves this purpose in an area as big as the one above, but also in the details.
The association of light blue areas next to figures suggest shadows, and serve to make the figures more dominant. And also creates a subtle blue sub-pattern.
This is where the nandina comes in. Having many gardens here, I use the repeat pattern of dwarf nandina to create a unity in the gardens, being careful not to push it too far. Overuse would create a boring composition. Nandina comes in regular size too, taller, and the use of the big ones can repeat the color and texture but not the size. A mis-matched repeat. All the better.
This tall variety of nandina within our walled pool area always retains more leaves in the winter. Have no idea why. It gets brilliant red and is topped off with even brighter red berries.
Visually, it carries on a conversation with the reddest part of my tile composition, which is about 12 feet from the bushes.
Some of the plants at the pool are physically documented in the tile, not simply their colors.
The same nandina as within the pool area is missing more leaves in another area of the acreage, looking more like a Dr. Seuss creation than anything else in winter.
The dwarf nandina below is in the same garden with the tall.
To keep the dwarf nandina in little mounds, you have to move out the new sprouts. Then make more pattern in different places in the yard.
The tiny red leaves above are new plants. Use them to create more red pattern in other gardens, repeating a theme. On the other side of the house, a new garden was planted next to the bedroom that was added on.
The dwarf nandina has not gotten very red at all this fall, nor has the taller nandina bush to the right. This place is protected on two sides. In the tree-pee to the left is a pyracantha, which gets red berries in the winter. This one is very young, and has not yet.
Deer eat this. It will probably always have some sort of barrier around it. Along the back of this garden is cotoneaster. It has been there maybe 18 months.
When mature, it will look like this.