Garden themes abound, and scented gardens, butterfly gardens, heirloom gardens, bulb, rose and white-flowering moon gardens are becoming "old hat" for many flower gardeners. Break into new flower gardening territory with a unique garden theme not yet seen in your neighborhood. Try flowers selected with winter texture or a bed of pure black and white flowers. Or plant a poison garden--and mysteriously let your friends try to guess its theme.
Plan your flower garden to produce a textured winter landscape which continues to provide visual interest even when the ground is covered with snow. The Louisiana State University Ag Center suggests adding plants that yield dried pods, cones and other material for winter decorations. Start with a background of shrubs including evergreens and holly as well as red and yellow twig dogwoods, low-growing birch varieties and the twisted stems of a Harry Lauder's walking stick. Plant irises and poppies and don't dead-head them; let the seed pods develop into their fascinating shapes to stick out above the snow or cut them for wreaths and dried arrangements. The University of Vermont Extension recommends ornamental grasses for winter garden texture, while echinacea, bee balm and lemon balm all maintain interesting seed heads that hold up little orbs of snow. Dense, spreading plants can be sheared into undulating shapes before winter hits, creating a sense of movement in the yard as snow covers them in gentle mounds.
Black and White Garden
Color is the whole point of flowers for many gardeners, but black and white flowers over green foliage creates a sexy champagne-cocktail look that can't be found in frilly pink and yellow plantings. Black or silver foliage plants can enhance this elegant look. The University of Vermont extension recommends Queen of the Night tulip and Bowles Black pansies to start your black floral display in the spring. William Guinness columbine, Green Wizard coneflower and black cultivars of bachelor's buttons can mix with white shasta daisies, while interplanted black and white iris cultivars provide a night-sky effect over their spiky foliage. For high drama, include one colorful splash, such as a dramatic scarlet tea rose or clump of deep red bee balm.
The thought of growing a poison garden may raise concerns about potential harm to children, pets and wildlife--but many of the most common flowers already blooming in your gardens are actually poisonous if consumed. Rhubarb, for example, is a common garden vegetable, grown for its stems that make a delicious pie or jam with strawberries. However, rhubarb leaves are poisonous. Plant rhubarb as a visual anchor in your poison garden, and let its exotic white flower spikes invite curiosity. According to the Cornell University Department of Animal Science, other attractive flowers that are poisonous include monkshood, jack in the pulpit, lily of the valley, angel's trumpet, delphinium, floxglove, helleborus, irises, laburnum, lantana, sweet pea, cardinal flower, lobelia, mayapple, wisteria and, of course, one of human's favorite poisons, tobacco and its ornamental nicotania cousins. Include a wild deadly nightshade on a trellis for beautiful purple flowers and glossy berries.