Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quirky Names & Garden Themes

Have you ever done something that makes sense only to you? And do you do quirky things that make your friends think you might be just a little bit silly? Now that I've asked, would you dare admit it?

I have a quirk that I learned from my mother-by-marriage. She was always naming things! Roads, meadows, mountains, or points each were named according to something that happened there or a detail apparent at the location. When she said that we should go camping to LaBrent Point, the family always knew it was the place that she named after my husband and me because we went on a famous camping trip there once when Brent forgot our sleeping bags and had taken the top off the Bronco (we froze at night!). If we went on a picnic to Elk Point, we knew where she meant, thus named because many elk were seen there. Cabin-Woods road was the road that led past the log cabin, and Deep Woods Pond was a place she liked to go to observe birds in the deep forest. Evidently our children adopted this habit (or learned it from her too) because they named places in our yard according to traits observed there. When Rylan was a little boy he would avoid mowing the lawn in a certain corner of the yard. We discovered it was because he didn't like "Scary Corner" because it was dark and bushy there. And Brandon always had a cute or funny name for his favorite garden patch.

Without even realizing what I was doing, I've taken to naming flower beds. The names adopted over time seem to stick --- and remain the same from year to year. The picture above shows the "Tea Garden". There are no tea trees or tea herbs in this garden! It was simply named this because I enjoy stepping out the back porch with my cup of morning herbal tea and leaning on the porch rail to observe the garden as I sip and think. The "Spa Garden" surrounds the patio by the master bedroom, and "The Secret Garden" is a tiny spot with special stepping stones made by my mom. My mother had specially named gardens as well. Her "All White" garden was right outside the living room window and every plant in that garden bloomed in exotic white flowers. It was elegant and beautiful! Her "Secret Garden" was nestled amongst trees where a tiny brick patio contained enough space for two small chairs and a table. Mom's "Sweetheart Garden" was cut into the shape of a heart where she grew roses in her front lawn. And "The Woods Garden" was at the bottom of her hill with all her brambly and wild-like flowers. Gardens given simple names; each holds special plants that seem to match the mood and purpose of the garden created. Having something special to identify them with is helpful and endearing to those who share it's beauty.

Recently our local newspaper suggested that we spice up our gardens with a theme. Although some are common ideas, others are quite unique and seem like they would be interesting to plant and grow. They suggested the following:

Colonial: Divide a small area into squares that are separated by walkways and inter-planted with vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. For ideas, find pictures or drawing of Moravian style designs from Old Salem, Massachusetts or Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.

Perfumed: Grow plants that are especially fragrant in this garden. Ideas are for lavender, lilacs, roses, sage, and verbena. A perfumed garden is especially nice near a bedroom window or an outdoor living room.

Tea: Plant tea herbs in this garden for fresh summer tisanes and infusions. Use the flowers and foliage from basil, peppermint, rose hips, chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm in this garden.

Patriotic: Plant flowers that are red, white, and blue. These are especially nice in concentrated areas like window boxes or planters. Flags or decorative metal stars would be a pretty addition to this garden.

Roof: apply a thick layer of sod to a roof-top and then grow wildflowers, succulents, or cactus on it's top for all to enjoy. Just make sure the roof is sturdy!

Alphabet: This is a fun project for children in the family. Start by planting something that starts with the letter "A" and then proceed through the alphabet to "Z". You might have to take creative liberties with some plant names, but working from alyssum to zinnia could really be fun!

Friendship: Plant flowers in this garden that were given to you by friends and loved ones. A start, a seed, a plant --- each bonds you to that friend. It reminds you of them each time you look at the plant. Just be sure to select perennials for this garden rather than annuals. Fair-weather friends should probably have their contributions planted elsewhere.

What other ideas do you have for themed gardens? If you want to leave a comment with ideas, I'll add them to the list for others to enjoy too! Put your thinking caps on and then share your creative and growing ideas for garden themes with us.


  1. Anonymous12:19 AM

    those are some great gardening ideas...You Mother in law wasn't named Anne SHirley was she? :D

  2. A rock garden? Stone garden? Hummingbird garden? Butterfly garden? Shade garden?

    This was a fun post! I name lots of things and places, too. This morning I'm remembering Anne of Green Gables naming the road that passed through apple orchards "The Great White Way."

  3. Ha! I hadn't read Marye's comment...

  4. I've always wanted a Moon Garden that uses all white flowers with delicious scents that come out strong at night.

  5. I love the idea of naming things. I need to ponder the names for my gardens, my home, things I adore and places that have meaning. While I'm away I'll work on that. ~Adrienne~

  6. I name everything too, and have themes in my gardens. I have a butterfly garden, for example, named "SkyWings Butterfly Garden" after a favorite iris that I grow there. I have always been a namer, and felt a kinship with Meg in the Madeleine L'Engle novels who had a role in life to name things as a way of affirming their existence and their role in life. :)

  7. Your site is so beautiful...the photos are delicious!

    And, thanks for including me in your friend's list. ;) I might have told you that before.

    Tea with Milk

  8. If no one has suggested it yet we'd need to add a Fairy garden...

  9. Most of what I do seems to only make sense to me and my Sweetheart. Everyone else appears to think I'm a wee bit "off".
    Our current Theme Garden is "Vegetables & Herbs Buried in Weeds". Sweetheart weeded all afternoon, then went back out in the evening to water and came in mystified saying there were already new weeds. Ugh.

  10. I love that you have taken the cue from your Mother-by-Marriage (what a lovely term!) and have named places according to events. It reminds me of the Bible--Old Testament especially where every name of person or place had a special meaning...and became a reminder of what happened there or a description of the person. Thanks for sharing! I love the garden ideas, too!



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