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Garden Tips

Add Fun to Your Garden - aka "Whimsy"
By: Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener

A garden should be more than just a cultivated area with plants in it. It should show creativity, have something to draw the eye to it, and I submit, should be FUN for all. To add that last element, try a little "whimsy". This adds real character and individual art, or your own creativity. A warning here, however. You can easily get carried away and detract from the beauty of your plantings by overindulging in whimsy or getting too tacky, but here are a few items I have seen in other gardens that have made me smile and enjoy the garden they adorned more than I otherwise would have. Some of those whimsical ideas include:

  • A real metal post bed - "A garden bed" – Get it!
  • Broken pots with a sign like "Rest in Pieces"
  • An entire flower pot cemetery with grave sites and humorous signage for each, e.g."Died Broke" or "Busted", or "Cracked Up".
  • Flower pot statues, often adorned as characters
  • Scrap metal welded animals (given a humorous name like a dog named "Rusty")
  • Old watering cans, old tools, and garden instruments hanging on a fence
  • A steer skull hanging on a wall (lit at night for additional effect)
  • Old wagon wheels, plows, milk cans, and items of a bygone era
  • Humorous signage, e.g. "This yard protected by fire ants!" or "Beware of Geckos" or "We're so excited about gardening, we wet our plants"!
  • Artificial fruit hanging from a tree in which they obviously don't belong
  • An old bathtub or water trough used as a planter
  • Cute statuary pieces , and humorous yard art pieces
  • A phony water faucet with a crystal bead for a water droplet coming from it
  • An old bicycle or other unusual object against a fence with vines crawling over it
  • A colored glass bottle tree
  • Animal skulls or bones laying in a cactus bed
  • A yellow brick road for a garden path or dry river bed with fish painted stepping stones in it
  • Unusual containers, e.g. a ceramic boot with succulents, or galvanized pails for flower pots
  • Stumps with tractor seats on top for garden chairs
  • Anything else that will add levity to your garden. The depths of your imagination are the limit. I've even seen an old chandelier hanging in an old oak tree above a garden or mirrors along fences to make the garden look larger.

When it comes to garden whimsy and decor, anything goes (as long as you yourself can live with it)! I have visited many other gardens full of whimsy and artistic touches and left with the thought that I loved seeing it, but  – IN SOMEONE ELSES YARD! So your own yard has to reflect your personal tastes and that's what makes gardening so diverse and interesting – no two resemble each other but reflect the personality of each and every gardener. Going on garden tours offers the opportunity to see what creative touches others have given to their garden spaces from which we get many ideas that will work in our own space. So, the next time you visit another garden, do admire the plant selection, placement and garden design, different textures and colors, etc, but also keep an eye out for a little whimsy thrown in – sometimes very subtle, sometimes glaring, but always eye catching and interesting. A little laughter with the lavender is OK!

The Whimsical Garden

 
©Zilker Botanical Garden,
Austin Area Garden Council
512.477.8672
info@zilkergarden.org