Plant a theme garden

November 18, 2012 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Do you need a challenge to perk up your enthusiasm for gardening? Why not try a theme garden? A theme garden is a mix of plants related in some way. The connection between the plants may be very apparent or it may be a little more difficult for visitors to discern.
The most obvious of themes are those designed around a particular color or a couple colors. Pink, white, purple and yellow are probably the easiest to design for color throughout the season, but red, orange, blue, and even black, silver and gold are other options.
Some other common themes are gardens that include plants only from the Victorian era, plants mentioned in the Bible, cutting gardens full of flowers with stems long and sturdy enough for bouquets, butterfly or hummingbird gardens with nectar and pollen producing plants, night-blooming gardens and scented gardens. The Scented Garden by Rosemary Verey can help with a scented plant theme.
A theme garden popular with children is a pizza garden. Often in the shape of a circle with triangular divisions representing pizza slices, pizza gardens are comprised of plants used in pizza making, like oregano, tomatoes, basil, onions, peppers and parsley.
Herbs lend themselves to healing or medicinal gardens. Those gardens may perhaps showcase chamomile, mint, lavender, thyme, feverfew and lemon balm.
Crafters often use natural items and a themed craft garden might feature dye plants, those that produce colors used in natural dies. It could include roses, strawberries, red cabbage, blueberries, grapes, spinach, and carrots. Flax, grasses, willow and grapes for basket or wreath making, flowers for drying, and plants with leaves or flowers for pressing could also part of a craft garden.
What about a garden with all plants with animal names? Lamb’s ears, horsetail, elephant ears, pussytoes, cardinal flower, trout lily, rattlesnake master and turtlehead are some you could incorporate.
You could do a musical name garden: coral bells, bellflower, fiddlehead fern, trumpet lily, bugleweed, and bells of Ireland are a few of the options.
A real challenge would be to design an attractive garden with plants whose names begin with each letter of the alphabet: aster, bee balm, cosmos, daisy, echinacea, fern, etc. Your guests will have fun searching for the plants corresponding to each letter. Even trickier would be a vegetable/herb garden with the same theme.
Or pick your favorite letter, perhaps the one that begins your first or family name and use all plants beginning with that letter. Or use only plants native to your family’s country of origin.
Planting a theme garden utilizing only plants native to Wisconsin sounds difficult but it may actually be one of the easiest of themes to accomplish. Landscaping With Native Plants of Wisconsin by Lynn Steiner will be a great help, as will these websites: and
There are so many options for theme gardens! Planning and planting an attractive one is a challenge that will add some extra fun to gardening.


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