Time for Inspiration (and Change)
For many people, gardening offers a therapeutic escape from the everyday pressures of life. But anyone can get stuck in a rut, even in the garden. A themed garden can breathe life back into your garden, and yield bountiful harvests of the foods or blooms you love most. Reinvigorate your landscape by putting your personal twist on a popular theme, or let one of these well-designed gardens spark your imagination.
Tea gardens set a mood, and that mood is usually one of tranquility. A smaller take on a pleasure garden (traditionally a large garden open to the public), tea gardens are seen in several different cultures. For instance, in Japan a roji serves as the entrance to a teahouse. It typically features well-manicured pathways that amble through native plants and grasses. If you want to create a calming space where guests feel like it’s always time for tea and quiet talk, take inspiration from the tea garden.
Gardens can be practical, none more so than those filled with plants that heal and restore the body. Herbs like motherwort, echinacea, peppermint, and wild bergamot grow fairly easily and offer medicinal benefits. To make use of them, however, you’ll need to know how to prepare the plants once they’ve matured. Some are brewed in teas, while others can be chewed to rid the body of aches and pains. With a little research, gardeners can keep a natural apothecary at their fingertips.
Landscaping involves a heavy dose of color theory, but you can cut through the complication and unify your backyard with a garden that blooms in a single color. White is the most popular choice because so many flowers have at least a little white on their petals. Some gardeners take the single-color theme a step further by creating a moon garden. This type of garden features white flowers and other plants with blooms and leaves that shine in the moonlight. A moon garden may also incorporate plants whose scents become richer in the evening.
Sometimes it’s helpful to think of the garden in terms of favorite recipes. Homemade salsa gets an extra kick when it’s made with fresh ingredients straight from the garden. Everything for the perfect spicy mix—cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, and onions—can come from the backyard. If you use raised beds, you can group together herbs and vegetables for other homemade favorites.
A garden’s shape can fall within a theme too. For instance, a pizza garden takes inspiration from the colorful Italian favorite. Each “slice” of this circular garden contains an assortment of pizza-perfect veggies and herbs. To get it right, you’ll need to plan your plantings and mark off your slices before any earth gets broken. As you’re sketching it out, consider what the mature plants will look like in relation to one another so you can create a pizza that will make your mouth water.
“Goth” may seem a little dark for the garden, but plants in deep, dark greens, purples, and blacks can soothe the landscape and the mind. Think of a goth garden as a moody, dramatic space ideal for getting lost in a book or relaxing in the sunshine. Incorporating shrubs like ‘Diabolo’ ninebark and such flowers as ‘Queen of Night’ tulips and ‘Sophistica Blackberry’ petunia, goth gardens stray from the norm and create a stunning, subdued landscape.
Three Sisters Garden
Corn, beans, and squash, the trio of vegetables known as the three sisters, are Native American staples. They not only taste good together, but they also complement each other nutritionally and benefit from being planted together. The corn stalks provide structures for the beans to climb, and the squash leaves spread along the ground, retaining moisture and deterring weeds. The roots of the beans also host rhizobia, which absorb nitrogen from the air and transform it into usable nutrients for neighboring plants.
Sunflowers range in size and color, but they all have one thing in common: They reach for (and follow) the sun. Sunflower gardens, even if they occupy just a portion of your landscape, feel lush and vibrant. Mix tall varieties with shorter ones, or stray from the standard yellow sunflower and instead opt for white or ‘Strawberry Blonde’ varieties. Sunflowers need full sunlight, so examine your yard and look for an unshaded area begging for life.
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