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STYLE : GARDENS : FLORAL & HARDY

Garden and architectural designer Van-Martin Rowe always wanted a year-round cutting garden with the flair and fragrance of an old-fashioned bouquet. Banishing the front lawn from his Pasadena lot, he installed a picket fence and stone paths to shape the space and bought his plants over time. He began with roses--white iceberg and yellow climbing ones--because, he says, “in Pasadena, the rose comes first.”

Then, visiting nurseries in every season, Rowe chose what he saw blooming. In the fall, he planted white September weed, thistle-like protea, rosemary and purple-berried Callicarpa japonica. During the winter months, red ‘Yuletide’ sasanqua camellias, pink and white azaleas, chartreuse cymbidiums, sweet olive and tulip tree were at their best. Spring was easy: Rowe picked bearded iris, sweet peas, blue hibiscus--as well as diehards like pelargoniums that would flower for months. And for a burst of summer color, he bought purple princess flowers, chamomile, gold daylilies, orange clock vine and star jasmine. Plants were arranged in layers--tall marguerites and lion’s tail toward the back of beds, society garlic, statice and sweet alyssum in the front.

Rowe also selected hues that work indoors as well as out. “I love orange, purple and yellow,” he says. “Going around with my clippers, I get a mixed bunch that looks great in my house.” Outside, ornaments such as birdhouses and a gazing ball set off the blooms, and vine-topped benches invite sitting. After three years in his flowered bower, which he shares with partner Barry Storch, two dogs and a garden cat, Rowe does little except weed and hand-water: “If something doesn’t work, I simply stick in something else."--SUSAN HEEGER


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