Douglas Hunt
Douglas Hunt
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  • New Smyrna Beach, FL

Seven Ideas You Can Steal From an Italian Botanical Garden. Really!


Sometimes you visit a big public garden and it can be sort of overwhelming and you think, "Oh, how can I possibly do any of this in my little garden back home"? It can be even worse if you're in another country. Well, I visited the University of Bologna's "Orto Botanico" today and rather than just oohing and aahing I took a different approach. I decided to go in search of ideas that I knew I could actually put in place. Here are seven of my take-aways.
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
Plant passion flower
OK, seriously, doesn't this plant have have about the wildest bloom out there? All the passion flowers share this showy quality, and one of them, Passiflora incarnata, is hardy to zone 5, so I'm pretty sure there's one that will grow in most parts of the country. Plus, they're great butterfly host plants.
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
Mingling, it's a good thing
Look how cool it looks when some of this juniper pokes through the Japanese maple. Plant things close enough so that they can mingle, but not so close that they crowd each other out.
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
A roof is an opportunity for planting
This one with succulents is pretty big and on top of an information sign, the back side of which you see here. But you could downsize the idea and it would work for a bird house or bird feeder.
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
Add some art
OK, it doesn't have to be something fancy like this piece by the artist Guy Lydster, titled "Stargazer." But art changes our perspective and makes us look at things in new ways. And it's a great way to keep some winter interest in a garden.
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
Marigolds like company
All too often one sees marigolds in sad little rows, like so many stiff soldiers. Look how much better they look when they've got some company. (And sorry, I can't tell you what the plant is. I asked some of the students working there and they didn't know. Tsk. Tsk.)
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
Labels are a good thing
How many times have you forgotten what you've planted or where it's gone? I know I have. You can get a pack of 24 labels like this for five dollars. Five! Really, is there any excuse?
garden ideas italian botanical, flowers, gardening
Details count
OK, maybe you can't have a fence that has the amazing floral detail this one has. But with a little thinking outside the box, there is always a way to put a personal touch on something and make it stand out.

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4 of 67 comments
  • Kat
    on Sep 5, 2014

    love the inspiration ! I went to the green waste site and found the perfect pillar,a cut tree that I used as a center piece to hold my big artichoke decor. ! Best of all the roofing glue is holding up and it is the center piece in one of my gardens!Oh the places we will go if we upcycle!

  • Carolyn Hoxton
    on Sep 25, 2014

    There are some great ideas here, thanks! The garden art face head sort of spooked me out.

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