We’ve all heard about butterfly gardens and herb gardens, but what about pizza gardens, or sunflower forts?
One of the many attractions of gardening is that you can play with it. We are not limited to the furrowed rows of earlier generations. You can be as creative as growing conditions and your plants’ needs will allow. And deciding on a theme is a way to pull your garden together artistically or aesthetically.
Themes provide a unifying framework, a story, a uniqueness to your garden, and they can be a lot of fun. Themes are more artistic than simply how you grow your plants. Garden themes make it easy to decide on which plants work best in a landscape, a raised bed, or even a single container, by providing a long term, broader perspective on that space.
You can create a theme based on flower color, leaf shape, or even a particular shade of green. You can create a theme that takes advantage of a shady corner, transforming it from a seldom used, mostly wasted space into a storybook hideaway, complete with peek-a-boo elf statues and a reading chaise lounge. [More lemonade, please!] Or, you can create a theme around a favorite book or movie.
Garden themes can be whimsical, or they can be utilitarian. Let’s take a look at some examples of each type:
Gifts garden If you like to give plants as gifts, plan ahead for that. Create a nursery bed specifically for plants to be given as gifts. You can find more tips on this winning garden theme in my post titled Planting Backwards.
Holiday dinners garden Nothing says gardener like fresh Brussels sprouts and baby beets at Thanksgiving, fresh greens at Easter, and a juicy watermelon on July 4th. Planning your planting to coincide with harvests when you are going to want them makes a holiday dinner garden a handy theme.
Pollinator garden Attract beneficial pollinators with a patch of garden dedicated to everything they love, want, and need. Nectar-producing flowers that come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, a nice layer of mulch, and a water source will draw them like flies, where they will stay to pollinate all of your garden crops.
Salad garden Keep yourself in salad ingredients with a continuous supply of spinaches, lettuces, Swiss chard, scallions, peppers, or whatever you prefer in your salad. Growing these healthy ingredients in close proximity adds color and texture to a garden patch, along with convenience for your dinner table.
Tea garden You don’t need to provide the exquisite care needed for a traditional Japanese tea garden to grow plants that taste delicious when steeped in hot water. Peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm, turmeric, garlic, and sage are all easy to grow and can provide a perpetual free source of tea for family and friends.
Those garden themes are all very useful, and they make plant selection simple. But what about some of the more fun ideas? My three favorites are children’s gardens, corn and sunflower forts, and pizza gardens:
Children’s gardens Children love plants they can touch, taste, and smell. Feathery soft yarrow, creeping chocolate mint, and towering fronds of licorice-scented fennel all come to mind for a children’s garden. Also, children need plants that grow quickly. Radishes and beans are always good choices. [You may be surprised to discover that most children love the taste of spinach they have grown themselves…]
Corn and sunflower forts The soaring heights of corn and sunflowers makes these plants perfect for forts and mazes. Simply draw where you want the walls to grow, plant seeds, and top dress the area, watering as needed. You will have to provide protection from feet and paws, at first, but, before long, they will support each other as they grow ever higher. You can even add nice little touches, such as a climbing cucamelon or purple pole beans.
Pizza garden You can set aside a piece of garden for a specific meal. In this case, you can plant tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, and whatever other herbs and vegetables you enjoy on a pizza. Heck, if you have a 9-foot square space, you could even grow the wheat for your pizza crust! Of course, the garden can’t help with the cheese or pepperoni, but you get the idea.
Garden themes require the gardener to look forward in time. Being the optimists that most of us tend to be, this isn’t hard to do. That’s why we keep putting seeds in the ground, year after year, we know that most of them will grow.
Now, you can stop letting your preconceived notions of gardening stop you from trying something different and unique. Go ahead! Have fun with it!
What kind of garden theme are you going to try?
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!