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How to Create a Theme Garden

Updated on March 6, 2017
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been a volunteer at Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.

Medieval Herb Garden at The Cloisters, New York, NY
Medieval Herb Garden at The Cloisters, New York, NY | Source

Theme gardens are gardens that are designed around a specific idea. They are a great way to showcase your interests and even your favorite flowers. The most common themes are Shakespeare, the Bible, colors, historical periods and geographical areas.

Choosing a theme

Choose a theme that is meaningful to you. Researching plants and designing your garden will be more fun if the result is a something that really speaks to you. For instance, if you are a Civil War buff, you might want to use plants that were commonly grown during that time period. Members of the Red Hat Society could choose flowers in their signature red and purple. Or perhaps you are a Harry Potter fan. Wouldn't it be fun to plant a magical garden of plants mentioned in that series?

Do your research - libraries

Once you have decided on your theme, it's time to start your research. The first place to go is to your local library. Don't worry if the selection is limited. Many libraries are members of consortiums, groups of libraries in a geographic area that lend books to everyone living in that area who is a member of one of the participating libraries. Do a keyword search on the consortium website just as you would on an internet search engine such as Google. You will be rewarded with a list of books matching your keyword(s). Each listing tells you which library has the book, whether it is available or not and often a brief description of the contents. Place your order for the book or books that you are interested in and they will be delivered to your local library in a few days. Then you can get started on your design and plant list.

Japanese Garden at Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Japanese Garden at Brooklyn Botanical Garden | Source

Do your research - public gardens

Visiting public gardens is an excellent source of information and inspiration. Many botanical gardens have Shakespeare Gardens if you have chosen that as your theme. There are also Japanese gardens and Chinese gardens to visit, garden restorations from various time periods and plant collections if you are interested in creating a native plant garden or a woodland garden. Be sure to bring a camera and a notebook. This is a great chance to see the plants you are considering in an actual garden. Take pictures of design ideas and plant combinations that you want to use in your own garden. Use your notebook to write down plants to add to your list as well as any additional information from your visit that you want to remember.

Buying plants

You don't need to wait until spring to buy your plants and seeds. You can order them from the comfort of your own home thanks to the internet. The sources for plants and seeds are nearly endless. You can either request catalogs or shop online. Be sure to check out online message boards for seed swaps. When spring arrives, you can visit local nurseries. Participating in local plant swaps is a great way to get rid of any extra plants you have and exchange them for plants that you want.

You don't have to be limited to just one theme garden. You can have as many theme gardens as you have ideas and space for them. And don't forget a place to sit and enjoy your theme gardens. A strategically placed bench can serve as a focal point in your yard as well as a place to relax and enjoy your creation.

© 2008 Caren White


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    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 11 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      You're welcome, Marlene! Have fun planning your garden and thanks for reading and commenting.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 11 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I enjoy the idea of planning a themed garden. Thank you for recommending consortium websites to help find more information about creating such a garden.

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Strategically placed trees and shrubs can make a wonderful minimalist garden. Let your imagination go!

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

      Zen inspired for me! I love the minimalist look but I also love lots of trees and large shrubs.

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Thanks disalvo!

    • disalvo8 profile image

      Eva Stefanski 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Beautiful hub and picture!

    • profile image

      Alexander Rodriguez 6 years ago

      Great...thank you very much.. :)

    • successfulblogger profile image

      successfulblogger 8 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

      10,00 hub views congrats.

    • profile image

      James Mann 9 years ago

      We have been so overwhelmed with our new backyard and all the work it needs that we never thought about themes. I think themes may just be a great way to break up the work that needs doing.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Be sure to choose plants that will grow in your soil and climate zone.

    • C.M. Vanderlinden profile image

      C.M. Vanderlinden 9 years ago from Metro Detroit

      I love the idea of a Shakespeare garden! And I agree--public gardens are a great way to get ideas. Great hub!

    • crazycat profile image

      crazycat 9 years ago from Philippines

      It's good ifyou could post photos to support your samples. Personally, I like a Zen garden design or anything Asian inspired.