Ideas For Story Garden: How To Make Storybook Gardens For Kids

storybook theme
Image by Anna Fox

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Have you ever imagined creating a storybook garden? Remember the pathways, mysterious doorways and human-like flowers in Alice in Wonderland, or the lagoon in Make Way for Ducklings? How about Mr. McGregor’s whimsically orderly vegetable garden in Peter Rabbit, where stumps are miniature cottages for Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin?

Don’t forget Hagrid’s Garden, which provided Harry Potter and Ron Weasley with ingredients for their magic potions. A Dr. Seuss garden theme provides a wealth of ideas with imaginary plants such as snick-berries and other oddities – like trees with crazy, twisty-turn trunks and colorful flowers atop spiral stems. And this is just a sampling of the storybook garden themes you could create. Read on to learn more.

Ideas for Storybook Gardens


Coming up with storybook garden themes isn’t as difficult as you might think. What were your favorite books as a young reader? If you’ve forgotten the gardens in The Secret Garden or Anne of Green Gables, a visit to the library will refresh your imagination. If you’re creating storybook gardens for kids, ideas for story gardens are as close as your child’s bookshelf.

A book of annuals and perennials (or a seed catalog) is a great place to get your creative juices flowing. Seek out unusual, whimsical plants like bat-face cuphea, fiddleneck ferns, purple pompom dahlia or giant plants such as ‘Sunzilla’ sunflower, which can reach heights of 16 feet. Look for plants like drumstick allium – just right for a Dr. Seuss garden theme, with its tall stalks and big, round, purple blooms.

Ornamental grass provides a wealth of colorful ideas for creating a storybook garden, such as cotton candy grass (pink muhly grass) or pink pampas grass.

If you’re handy with pruning shears, topiary provides endless possibilities for creating a storybook garden. Consider shrubs such as:

Many vines are easy to shape by training them around a trellis or wire form.

The key to creating a storybook garden is to have fun and unleash your imagination (don’t forget to check your USDA plant hardiness zone before you purchase those storybook plants!).

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