Gardening with a Theme
In February, winter daydreams slowly take shape as we craft our garden plans, pre-order Potatoes and Dahlias, and set our sights on indoor sowing. Garden tasks this month are minimal: a bit of tidying around the yard, some mending of fences, monitoring plants for winter damage, and feeding the birds (February is National Bird-Feeding Month!). Indoors, we sketch garden maps, sharpen neglected tools, organize our seed inventory, and hone in on a garden plan.
Without a garden plan, it's easy to be seduced by every new variety that catches our eye–and before you know it, you're swimming in a pile of seed packs and don't know where to begin. A garden theme, on the other hand, is an excellent way to channel winter passions into summertime realities. A theme reins in conflicting impulses, provides focus, and stimulates creativity–resulting in a garden you can feel proud of.
A wildlife friendly garden for butterflies, birds, and bees.
Before you pick a theme, pause to draw a garden map—even just a very rough sketch. Understanding the sun, shade, and space limitations of the garden will allow you to pick a theme that will work. For more advice on garden mapping, read this post.
Make your garden theme meaningful to you. Hot sauce enthusiasts, for example, might decide to grow a wide variety of hot peppers this year. Cut flower lovers might focus on Dahlias and other blooms with excellent vase life. A good theme will inspire creative ideas and motivate you to bring your vision to life. Once you've found your garden theme, a sensible seed-shopping list will emerge and you'll avoid wasting time and money on plants that won't do well.
Browse the following garden themes for inspiration:
The Container Garden - Shop this collection.
Whether you are limited to a sunny balcony or have a big yard, container gardening is a great way to highlight favorite varieties, avoid competition with weeds, and reduce back strain from garden tasks like digging, tilling, and weeding. Herbs like Watercress, Basil, Chives, Mint, Parsley, Calendula, Chamomile, and Cilantro do especially well in containers. Nasturtium, Pansies, Sweet Pea, Gomphrena, and Strawflower thrive in pots. For vegetables, try: Sweet Pea Currant Tomato, Matchbox Pepper, Mexican Sour Gherkins, Tiny Tim Tomato, Tom Thumb Peas, Danvers Carrot, Tokyo Market Turnip, or any Lettuce Mix. Read more about container gardening here. Find our recycled textile containers here.
The Shady Vegetable Garden - Shop this collection.
If you’ve got a shady situation but want to grow vegetables, you’re in luck: a garden with 4-6 hours of sun can still produce a hefty harvest of leafy greens and root vegetables. Lettuce, Asian Greens, Chard, Kale, Collards, and Spinach will do just fine, not to mention brassicas like Broccoli, Kohlrabi, and Cabbage. Turn to Potatoes, Beets, Carrots, Turnips, and Radishes for shade-tolerant root crops. Read more about shade gardening here.
The Wildlife Friendly Garden - Shop this collection.
To help pollinators this year, plant a variety of species, including lots of flowers and herbs. Staggered bloom times will help to sustain healthy populations of wild bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects throughout the growing season. Try Good Bug Blooms, Pollinator Petal Patch, or one of our Wildflower Seed Shakers to get started. Milkweed and Butterfly Weed will support monarchs and other butterflies, while Bird Lover’s Mix and For the Birds will both provide lots of nutritious seed for avian friends. Read more about gardening for pollinators here.
The Edible Landscape - Shop this collection.
Why sacrifice beauty for utility when you can have both? An edible landscape uses color contrast, succession sowing, and edible flowers to freely integrate annuals, perennials, and vegetables. Some favorites for the edible landscape are: Red Swan Bean, Rainbow Tatsoi, Merlot Lettuce, Lemon Cucumber, and Phoenix Nasturtium. Find lots of edible flowers to choose from here. To read more about edible landscaping, read this post.
The Moon Garden - Shop this collection.
A moon garden features night-blooming varieties that fill the evening air with fragrance and glow in the pale moonlight. To create your own moon garden, start with Moon Flower, Purple Perfume Nicotiana, Lavender Cloud Nicotiana, and Midnight Garden Mix. Read our post Night Life in the Garden to learn more.
The Cutting Garden - Shop this collection.
A cutting garden focuses on flowers with sturdy stems that draw up water in vase arrangements and hold up well in bouquets. Include a diversity of blooms in your plan: big bold flowers like Dahlias, Sunflowers, and Zinnias; spiky blooms like Snapdragons and Blazing Star; fillers like Lacy Phacelia and Celosia; and flowers that dry well like Gomphrena, Strawflower, and Everlasting Flower Mix. Our Cut Flower Garden Boxed Seed Collection is another good place to start. To read more about growing a cutting garden, visit this post.
The Botanical Dye Garden - Shop this collection.
Using botanicals to create natural dyes for textiles is great fun! To grow a dye garden, try Japanese Indigo (for aqua to deep blue) , Dyer's Coreopsis (for yellows, oranges, and browns), Hopi Red Dye Amaranth (for vibrant pink!), Marigolds (for gold), Yarrow (for yellow and olive green), and Nettles (for pale blue-green). Visit our Dyer's Botanicals collection here. And for a full list of North American native plants that can be used for botanical dyeing, visit this page created by the U.S. Forest Service.
The Deer Resistant Garden - Shop this collection.
Deer love to munch but some plants are just too bitter or pungent for their taste. Try the following varieties in areas where deer are likely to roam: Butterfly Weed, Milkweed, Spider Flower, Nicotiana, Nasturtium, Poppy, and Cosmos. Visit our full collection of Deer Resistant Blooms here.
The Early Bird Vegetable Garden - Shop this collection.
Jump right into your veggie growing with seeds that can be sown as soon as the soil is workable. Try: Wild Arugula, Early Wonder Tall Top Beet, Siber Frills Kale, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, Wasabina, Golden Sweet Snow Peas, Tokyo Market Turnip, or Vivid Choi. Early birds get the worm, as they say, so get sowing! Shop this collection of Best Early Spring Varieties for more ideas.
The Seed Saver's Garden
Part of our mission as a seed company is to sell only open-pollinated (OP) seeds, in part because open-pollinated seeds can be easily saved, stored, and re-sowed year after year and still grow true-to-type. Open pollinated seeds ensure greater access to seeds, more food security, and more food sovereignty. If you want to begin saving your own open-pollinated seeds but are not sure where to begin, read this post on Ten Seeds to Save Yourself This Season.
We hope you'll draw inspiration from these themes as a way to organize and motivate your garden planning.