Friday, 24 October 2014

My Flowery Fibonnaci Lawn Spiral

 What is it about flowers popping up in lawn that’s so pleasing?
The flowery meadow was beloved in mediaeval times but of late, it’s a brave daisy that dares arise in a lawn.
And then Christopher Lloyd popularised the meadow trend in Britain and promoted fritillaries and other bulbs in the sward. Crocus (below) and snowdrops may be the bulbs of choice for our cold climate friends, but I have chosen the warm climate equivalents – and cheapest – with cobalt grape hyacinth (Muscari – almost too tall) and milky blue spring star flower (Ipheion, pictured above). When I have enough snowdrops to extend the season, I’ll add them; and I’m thinking of also planting dog rose (Rhodohypoxis, last picture) for later flowers. Even white rain lilies (Zephyranthes) for autumn, perhaps, white winter hoop petticoat daffodils (Narcissus foliosus) and – when I have enough – those pretty lilac crocus.
A downpour of rain in winter combined with drainage problems led to our little circular lawn becoming – almost - a pond and I thought my newly planted bulbs would rot. Learning that in spring many Turkish bulbs grow in extremely wet soil, from snow melt, before the summer-dry, reassured me just before my little bulbs began to show.
But I didn’t plant them informally, oh no.
I planted my dwarf bulbs in a Fibonacci spiral.
In mathematics, the Fibonacci sequence is the numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144...defined by the recurrence relation xn = xn-1 + xn-2 and named for Leonardo Bonacci (known as Fibonacci , c. 1170 – c. 1250); the sequence had been described earlier in Indian mathematics.  (Fibonacci is also known for introducing the Hindu–Arabic numeral system in Europe.) I read that ` applications include computer algorithms such as the Fibonacci search technique and the Fibonacci heap data structure, and graphs called Fibonacci cubes used for interconnecting parallel and distributed systems.’ But I was more interested to read that the Fibonacci sequence: ` also appear in biological settings, such as branching in trees, phyllotaxis (the arrangement of leaves on a stem), the fruit sprouts of a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone.’ Most of us have heard of it thanks to novelist Dan Brown.
Shaped like an unfurling leaf, my spiral represents life itself; at the same time, maths and reason. Perhaps it’s worked out well that only two types of bulbs are here, and that they do not last long; it’s an ephemeral display, it’s delicate, it’s not as heavy looking as this dissertation sounds.
It’s meant to be light hearted, pretty, and celebrate life.
And I love it.
Jill Weatherhead is horticulturist, garden designer and principal at Jill Weatherhead Garden Design and garden writer who lives in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, and works throughout Victoria (

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