It was upon a chance visit to Tate Modern that Kathy came face to face with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies after 1916. Such a large painting was immediately immersive. Taking notes, it immediately inspired a large new garden in front of and between the Rothko Rooms creating a 180 degree vista.
Monet’s painting shows broad patches of gold with only small highlights of pink or white lilies. The gold was more like bleached straw, and what came to mind was a very restricted pallette of grasses to represent the broad sweep aided by creamy white bidens and yellow solidagos. Pink or white echinaceas would provide the pinpricks of colour for the lilies with blue geraniums for the water. Streaks of purple would be echoed by purple verbenas.
As the low evening light sweeps across it, something of Monet’s magic appears, especially in summer and autumn; but as the midday sun moves behind in winter the area is transformed again; as the miscanthus seedheads catch the light and act as shimmering bulbs. So, so beautiful from close up or far away.
By then the grasses are like the palest straw, bleached so as to be almost without colour at all. But if the sun catches them and a breeze too, then they shimmer and become almost translucent. This is especially true of the calamagrostis.