Since caring for a garden is an ongoing pursuit, and maintenance breeds repetition, it can be easy for what once was a passion to become fairly monotonous. Between winter sheltering routines and spring cleaning regimens, your previously relaxing and inspiring time outdoors can become like a chore.
However, for many of us, gardening started as a way to reconnect not just with nature but with ourselves. A meditative practice that allows us some respite from the rush of daily life, to create space for our creativity and peace. As a reminder that your garden is as much a canvas for the mind as a sanctuary for the body, we’ve put together some of our favourite examples of unique and quirky garden design ideas.
Hopefully, these undeniably individual greenspaces will reawaken your own creativity and willingness to experiment in the garden.
Thinking in three dimensions
When planning the design of a space, particularly a garden, it can be easy to get tunnel vision and focus solely on the ground space you have to work with. However, there is no reason that your garden can’t be as multidimensional as any forest or jungle. Using vertical space has never been easier since there are now a plethora of building options and accessories that can be used to house plants above ground level, not to mention the larger species that already have their own vertical profile.
If you’re unsure where to begin or don’t have a lot of space, Trellis’ are an excellent way to add colour and character to bare walls and fences. You can thread them with climbing plants like Clematis and Honeysuckle that will not only bloom beautifully in the coming months but also hang your garden air with the scents of summer.
Gardens that have a lot of open areas might be best suited to a full Pergola, these hollow structures perform the same role as a Trellis’ – providing an anchor point for plants. The difference lies in the scale of the frame, Pergolas often reach above head heights and are sturdier than your average Trellis, this means you can be more ambitious with how you populate them. Grapevines are a popular selection in this case.
Finally, you have the option of green walls, we’ll cover a novel way to build one of these later, which are essentially vertical planting beds made by hanging pots off the wall in question and filling them with plants that either hang freely or can be trained into your desired shape.
Less is more
A garden’s purpose varies from person to person though most commonly we use it as a respite from the busyness of daily life. Why not double down on that philosophy and build yourself a Zen garden.
Zen gardening has long been a practice of monastic traditions throughout East Asia, the creativity and tranquillity of the pastime are thought to aid in the acts of contemplation and meditation. Partially resulting from this spiritual reverence, distinct Japanese gardening styles emerged.
One such style, which might aid your own creativity contemplation, is known as Miniaturization. The style refers to the use of dwarf plant species, Bonsai trees being among the most famous, and strategic landscaping to recreate miniature scenes from nature. Sandboxes are iconic in this gardening style, often raked to maintain a level or rippled surface that is often meant to represent a desert or ocean landscape.
Under this style, your garden truly becomes a canvas, built for aesthetic appreciation rather than producing certain colours, scents, or species. The beauty here is that you are able to interact with the garden still, largely through maintenance, and also create a sense of escapism by having your own miniature paradise to steward and enjoy.
Treasure your trash
Finally, we have a gardening aesthetic designed to engage your crafty and DIY sides. Upcycling has become something of a buzzword in the past decade, in light of the deepening climate crisis probably, and the combination of lockdown restrictions and platforms like Tik Tok and Youtube gaining increased prominence means that a whole new generation of DIY hobbyists has emerged.
Though they may not be immediately obvious, there are a variety of everyday waste items that can be upcycled for use in your garden. Tin cans make excellent candle holders and, with a hole punched through, can be suspended from tree branches or fence posts. PVC piping, usually used in plumbing, can be converted into narrow planters that are already prefabricated to slot together and conserve water.
Perhaps you have old pallets from previous gardening ventures? Once broken down you have a ready supply of timber that, after a sand and weather treatment, can fill the role of most outdoor furniture. Alternatively, if you have or are investing in a fire pit then a few good whacks with an axe will break a pallet into manageable pieces to keep you warm on summer nights.
The list goes on, though it’s worth mentioning probably the easiest and most cost-effective upcycling strategy for gardeners: composting. You’re already producing food waste anyway, why not separate the plant-based scraps and put them to work fertilizing the plants you’re trying to grow?