Monthly Archives: March 2013

Three Thrifty Ways to Create Garden Whimsy

This playful display featuring foxtail fern (top) complements the lively atmosphere in the Denver Puppet Theater garden.

This playful display featuring foxtail fern (top) complements the lively atmosphere in the Denver Puppet Theater garden.

Have you ever wanted a playful garden that reflected your creativity?  There are dozens of ways to add whimsical touches to your garden without going broke.  Here are three low-cost approaches:

Pick playful plants.  Foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’) lends a comical air to the garden because its shape resembles a jester’s hat.  Taller plants can radiate a sense of childlike wonder. If you like plants that reach five feet or more, consider foxtail lilies (Eremurus), annual sunflowers such as Helianthus annuus ‘The Joker,’ hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) and Harry Lauder’s walking stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’).

One gardener artfully arranged a small cactus collection on a colorful bench.

One gardener artfully arranged a small cactus collection on a colorful bench.

Compose colorful collections.  You may already have a collection that’s just begging to be displayed on a garden fence or trellis, or in some other garden location.  Examples include straw hats (as little as $2 apiece at thrift stores), baskets, old hand tools, sun faces, pink flamingoes, children’s furniture, vibrant flower pots or unusual plants.  Tereasa Surratt’s book, Found, Free & Flea:  Creating Collections from Vintage Treasures, offers abundant ideas for organizing and exhibiting collections.

This arrangement of wicker chairs has mama bear and baby bear written all over it.

This arrangement of wicker chairs has mama bear and baby bear written all over it.

Select sociable seating.  Wicker chairs add a friendly, comfortable air to the garden.  One gardener places a child’s wicker chair next to an adult wicker chair, mama-bear/baby-bear style.  Another gardener constructs a covered seating bench from discarded doors.  All kinds of objects can be used for seating, including nail kegs, cinder blocks with wood planks, tire swings and milk crates.  Marcianne Miller’s wonderful book, Salvage Style for the Garden, offers ideas and instructions for building garden benches, furniture and other accents from repurposed materials.

Once you add whimsical elements to your garden, you’ll begin noticing other items to incorporate into your exterior decorating scheme.  Resources for your repurposing efforts include thrift shops, estate and garage sales, salvage yards, nursery and hardware store sale racks, and even dumpsters, if your yard backs up to an alley.

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Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness, Whimsy