Roman philosopher Cicero believed, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Indeed, our love of gardening is nearly as old as the history of humankind itself. The Hanging Garden of Babylon is part of lore, as it also immortalises King Nebuchadnezzar II’s love for his Queen Amytis who yearned for the green valleys of her homeland.
Vitruvius, a famed architect, of ancient Rome wrote a detailed manual of landscape architecture. The early Romans were worshippers of nature who used to lavish their praises on greenery by creating elaborate stepped gardens, topiaries and fountains. Renaissance gardens were instrumental in giving birth to the famed jardin à la française or French style formal gardens. Gardens of Versailles epitomises their gardening philosophy. The art of gardening also became an endearing pastime among the English.
The other side of Atlantic could not escape this fervent love for landscape architecture. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Virginia, Vallarta Botanical Gardens in Mexico etc bear its sign. We will learn more about the history of gardening as we go along. But before that we will try to utilise some of the tricks of the trade to enhance the beauty of our gardens.
Place shrubs as hedges, small topiary or groups in your garden. Holly, honeysuckle, boxwood, forsythia, cotoneaster etc are a few of the popular choices in this segment. If you are planning a Japanese garden, then azalea, iris, camellia, hydrangea, Ilex crenata and Osmerea burkwoodii will be the must have shrubs for you.
Speaking of Asian plants, East has its unique way of viewing and tending the nature’s pretty face. It is revealed in the way the gardens of the region are designed. India’s ancient architectural treatise has detailed propositions of including public parks in town planning and gardens in private dwellings.
Chinese gardens are deeply inspired by the prevailing belief systems. The popularity of Japanese gardens reached far and wide. Chinese Garden and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore preserve some of the rarest plant species of Asia and beyond. Singapore Botanic Gardens boasts of largest orchid collection too.
In long summer days evergreen trees will provide you with cool shades. In winter afternoons, you can have great time enjoying outdoor lunches at that inviting grove of yours. Seasonally, they will decorate your garden with flowers and fruits. They will also be shelters to the birds, insects, mammals and other animals. Also, they will be a nice backdrop for the smaller herbs and flowers.
Though they shed leaves in autumn – winter, deciduous trees too are welcome additions to any garden. Depending upon the soil type and climate, trees like pine, fir, maple, cherry blossoms, crabapple, eucalyptus, sandal etc could be planted in a garden. Fruit trees like mango, jackfruit, banana, coconut, pineapple, date palm etc would be very sumptuous choices as perennial garden plants.
With its innumerable variety, hibiscus has immense capabilities of highlighting any part of your garden. Perhaps, it is the only flower that enjoys such a mass following without even managing to survive half a day. Particular species of the plant also possess several health benefits. Hibiscus tea has rejuvenating effects on body.
Oil extracted from red hibiscus flower (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is used as hair fall treatment. It is also the national flower of Malaysia. Additionally, hibiscus tends to be an easy to care plant. You grow new plants from cuttings. You can then place them in a pot to deck up the interior of your house as well.
Artists like Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Eugène Delacroix and Henri Fantin-Latour worked tirelessly to capture the beauty of the roses. Now you have the perfect opportunity of painting your green canvas with the colour of the roses. Creating a rose garden is a slightly more difficult task under hot and humid conditions than creating a herb or hibiscus garden. But it will be worth the effort for as Curtis says, “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”
Rosa bracteata, Rosa chinensis, Rosa laevigata, gallicanae, pimpinellifoliae and banksianae are some of the roses that are native to Asia. Roses particularly dislike rainy season, so having them under temporary shades or in a green house would be a good idea.
Claude Monet was an avid gardener and created an elaborate lily pond at his flower garden in Giverny. He used to collect various lily species from all around the world to see them thrive in his own flower garden. As revealed by his numerous paintings and drawing of water lilies, lifelong this remained a favourite corner of his garden.
You can have a similarly beautiful lily or lotus pond at your garden too. Do not stop only at that. Decorate its banks with willows and calla lilies. Place a couple of lounge chairs by its side and cherish the beauty of the rainbow created by the flowers and butterflies. You can use this beautiful pond designed by Wasserpflanzen Appenzeller as an inspiration.
Both poinsettia and bougainvillea are low maintenance garden plants that look equally beautiful when kept in pots and placed indoors. What more, they are available in a plethora of colours. So you can create a special zone dedicated to a colour of your choice or enjoy a mix and match. Build an organic bamboo or cane trellis near the bougainvilleas so that they can climb upwards and colour up the ambience on their way up.
If your garden is rather small in size and you do not have the luxury of adding so many extensive details then don’t worry. We also have the perfect recipe of decorating the small courtyards which you will be able to find here.