Theme Gardens

With so many beautiful flowers out there, how do you choose which you will plant in your garden? One way to organize your thoughts is to plan a themed garden. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

The key to a good theme garden is flexibility. Before you start, keep in mind that not all plants will grow well in your garden, so try to make your theme fit with the environment you have. Also, not every plant in your theme garden has to fit the theme exactly -- they may not all work well together and you might want some foliage plants to fill in space between your highlighted plants.

Another factor to consider in a theme garden is cultivar names. What if you really want a specific kind of flower, but it doesn't fit your theme? No problem -- take the "Flame" calla lilies and "Snowball" dahlias as an example of what you can do with cultivars. There are hundreds of cultivars available for some popular flowers like tulips, so you can probably find something that will fit your theme.

Fire and Ice Garden

Make things hot and then cool them down with a fire and ice garden. The fire plants pictured here are just  a selection, "flame" and "fire" come up in cultivar names all the time. There are also other plants besides torch lilies and celosia that look like flames, so be creative.  When it comes to the other half of your garden, there are dozens of stark white and pale blue flowers with monikers referring to ice and snow; the ones here are just a small sample. Those snowball dahlias sure do look refreshing, don't they?

Looking for a few more ideas? How about spurge 'Fireglow', fire flower, sunflower, blazing star, dame's rocket or firebush for your hotsy-totsy fire garden, and glory of the snow, winter aconite, Ice Wings or Ice Follies narcissus, snow crocus and summer snowflake for your cool breezy ice garden?

Tea Herb Garden

Many herbs and flowers are delicious when used fresh in a cup of hot tea. You can also dry them to create your own herbal blends. Try some of these!


Patriotic Garden

Nothing could be more patriotic than a red, white and blue garden, right? Well, sure, star-spangled is one way to go... but why not try a different route? "Red white and bloom!" is cliché. Try a patriotic garden filled with American wildflowers. Many of our native plants send up beautiful blossoms right around the Fourth of July, so you can enjoy them with your hot dogs and apple pie.

Here are just a few suggestions for striking North American wildflowers. Be careful: you should check you local lists before planting anything, in case it is considered an invasive in your area. Also make sure to check the timing if you are bent on a Fourth of July flower extravaganza; these may bloom at different times depending on your climate zone.

There are dozens more. Here's a list to help you get started and a few webpages that can help you find even more native flowers.
* Evening primrose
* Jewelweed
* Toadflax aka Butter and Eggs
* Joe Pye Weed
* Coreopsis

* Martha Stewart Living -- her gardening section features a number of varities of native North American plants.
* -- a Canadian website showcasing some of our beautiful native flowers.
* -- this site is devoted to all things wildflowers; the link will take you to a guide to the flowers which will grow in your region, although they may not be native there. Each flower has a species information page that can tell you where it is originally from. You can also read about invasive species.


L-O-V-E Garden

Roses aren't the only romantics in the garden. Try spelling it out to the letter with these flowers and foliage plants.  Most of these are perennials, but you could mix it up with a few new annuals every year as well.

'''L '''is for lovely lupines, lucious lantana, lightweight lily of the valley, and lavender love-in-a-mist.

'''O''' is for oppulent obedient plants, ornate ostrich ferns, oggling ox-eye daisies, and old-fashioned ozark primrose.

'''V''' is for vertical veronica, valued violets, va-va-voom verbena, and... valerian. (Ran out of adjectives, but valerian is used as an herbal sedative. Isn't that interesting?)

'''E''' is for enchanting edelweiss, extraordinary elephant's ears, engaging English daisies, and ecstatic echinacea.


Fragrance Garden

Flowers are beautiful for more than just the sense of sight. Showy orchids may delight the eyes but the subtle sweet pea is a delight for the nose. Try planting flowers that put out their fragrance at different times of day (or both day and night).

These are just a few of the most popular fragrant flowers. Check out these articles for longer lists and growing tips!
* -- includes a list of roses that are particularly fragrant.
* -- discusses when things bloom, so you can plan for the seasons.
* -- location suggestions for different fragrant plants.
* -- fragrant desert plants.


Goth Garden

Don't let perky pink peonies and bobbing golden daffodils ruin your bleak mood. Here are some suggestions for a suitably gloomy garden.

First, a few dark flowers to match the darkness in your soul. Keep in mind that flowers are rarely truly black; they are usually very dark blue or maroon, although black prince pansies may be one of the few exceptions (disregarding the bright yellow eye, of course). Black roses are highly sought after, but the darkest shades are usually a deep red or marroon.

Nothing goes with doom and gloom like a little blood... or at least a blood-colored dracunculusBleeding hearts are typically red, white and pink, but you can find some in just white if you prefer.

Dangerous Flowers

These flowers are known for their potent poisons. Don't eat them, and don't plant them where your pets might eat them either.


These theme ideas are just a few of the ways you might organize your garden. There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful flowers out there, in a rainbow of colors and shades. Whether you have an East Asian-influenced modern design or a semi-wild English country garden, there are flowers that will perfect the look of your garden. Just don't forget to take time to stop and sniff them once in a while -- you work so hard to maintain them, you should enjoy them too!