Good to Grow: Have fun with the unexpected in the garden

Image by Chris Hudson
Article by Jane Powell, Good to Grow

One of my favorite times in the garden is when I find a surprise. Something that is unexpected and makes me slow down to look twice.

Big sweeping garden beds are grand, and I do enjoy mass planting with big swatches of color, but I find when visiting a friend’s garden, I am most excited by tiny thoughtful plantings tucked into unexpected places.

Most gardeners will tell you this comes by accident; they simply are looking for space to plant something new. Oh, the spaces they find. I have seen tiny terra cotta pots hanging on fence posts with small sedums spilling over the sides; makeshift containers up against a garden wall; planter rims framing a single plant in a bed; plants in boots, old chairs and even tin cans.

Maybe it’s a garden gate dressed with a small planter box inviting visits inside.

Let’s start at the beginning: I love an entrance. There are all kinds of ideas to create an entryway. There is the traditional gate and arbor. Maybe a doormat of stone, mulch or ground cover plants serves as your welcome.

Frame this with shrubs (either in the ground or in large containers) and you have created a pause point. That’s a term from my retail merchandising days, and it means just that — creating a spot where you will pause and enjoy the visual display, or in our case the garden design.

I have hens and chicks planted by my gate, they are fun and a bit old-fashioned. Plus, they multiply quickly. They are just a little something to spy when stopping to open the gate.

Once in the garden, keep the unexpected moments coming. Find a partly shady spot and plant iris cristata, commonly called dwarf crested iris. A friend shared a few from her garden and because they have shallow roots, I have planted them under a tree, hoping they can survive among the tree’s intricate root system.

What’s your favorite color? This is your chance to introduce art into your garden. Maybe a beautiful ceramic planter tucked in a garden bed, planted with a complimentary blooming flower.

I have planters of ferns tucked under bushes and trees. It is an unexpected spot for planters, and they also serve to keep tender plants out of the pup’s way as she races along the fence line. I’ve also seen lanterns — not with candles but with small plantings — hanging from tree branches. Speaking of hanging, I love wind chimes, and finding them hanging in the garden is always a treat.

I often use furniture and accessories to create displays in the garden. I have a mosaic top and iron base table in my herb garden. There between the raised beds is a colorful table surrounded by and topped with multiple pots of herbs. Hanging on the fence is a large grapevine wreath, and all of this sits on a bed of pea gravel. It’s a spot that feels like a room with flooring, wall decor and beautiful furniture. It makes me smile.

Keep walking and you’ll see Fancy Free, a metal sculpture that appears to be dancing through my sunny bed. She was a gift from an artist neighbor and I love the spirit she brings to my garden. In the back of my shade bed I have gathered vintage tools (flea market finds) and tried my hand at recreating a magazine display photo. It’s interesting but still a work in progress.

Of course, sometimes the surprise is a gift from nature. Last week I found a box turtle. I was just like a little kid, so excited that he decided to visit my garden.

Sometimes it’s a bird nest, or beehive. When you find these, take a moment to consider that you have created a safe haven for animals to build their home. It’s not always fairy-tale-like. I realize sometimes nests need to be disturbed — but for now, let’s welcome all to the garden.

Maybe in your garden, it’s a glass globe on a pedestal, a wrought-iron sculpture tucked into a turn in the path. Maybe you have created a display of annuals that take your breath away as you come upon them. Create a sense of wonder in your garden, plant and design the little spots that make you happy.

That’s the thing about surprises — they don’t have to follow rules.

Read the original article HERE.