Specialty Gardens: Filling The Needs Of Gardeners With Unique Gardening Styles

water garden
Image by CaraMaria

By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)

Gardening is not only a hobby; it’s an art form. While most gardens are a result of a particular climate or landscape, many are simply an extension of the gardener’s imagination and passion. Let’s learn more about the different types of gardens and unique gardening styles that fit the needs of all gardeners.

What are Specialty Gardens?

Specialty gardens offer excellent alternatives for those seeking a particular gardening style or passion, regardless of location. So whether it takes place indoors or out; whether it’s in the backyard, on a patio, rooftop or a hilltop; whether it’s a hot, dry region or a cool, wet one, specialty gardens allow the individual gardener to pursue his or her own unique interests in creative ways.

Different Types of Gardens

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Some gardeners have a passion for growing specific plants. Others seek to improve the environment. There are gardeners that make creative use of limited space and those who simply enjoy a particular gardening style. Here are some of the most common types of gardens:

Woodland Gardens

Perhaps you’re a nature buff, as most gardeners are. Consider a woodland, shade or wildflower garden. These specialty gardens offer special appeal and are a low-maintenance way to grow a variety of native plants and flowers.

  • Woodland gardens – Woodland plants and wildflowers can be grown anywhere using native species or those sharing similar traits. Simply mimic their natural habitats.
  • Shade gardens – A shade garden can fill dark, vacant areas with bright, beautiful plants. In fact, many plants not only tolerate shade but also thrive in it.
  • Wildflower gardens – Wildflowers can be grown in sun or shade depending on the plants and climate. These gardens can include prairie gardens as well, filled with a variety of native grasses.

Tropical Gardens

If you enjoy tropical appeal, these gardens are also easy to create. Many common garden plants have tropical origins or characteristics such as:

Houseplants like dieffenbachia, palms, pothos, and croton can also be included.

Water Gardens

Maybe water lulls your inner garden passion. A water garden can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be or as space will allow. These may include:

Water garden plants take several shapes and forms as well, including anything from oxygenating plants to water lilies and cattails, many of which can also be used for creating bog gardens. Bog gardens house a variety of moisture-loving plants and are also easy to create.

Japanese Gardens

Water is an important part of Japanese gardens and may be represented in the form of subtle features, such as basins, or merely suggested ones like raked sand. Japanese gardens focus on detail with a respect for everyday objects found in nature.

Paths, groups of stones, specific plants, lanterns and wooden or bamboo structures (such as fences or bridges) are also common. Unlike most other gardens, emphasis is placed more on simplicity rather than an abundance of plant life.

Environmental Gardens

If your passion is to save the environment, specialty gardens can range from xeriscape gardens to rain gardens and wildlife gardens.

Xeriscape gardens – Xeriscape gardens use low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants that grouped together to form natural-looking landscapes, which conserve energy and water. There are numerous plants available, from annuals and perennials to grasses, shrubs and trees that will thrive in a xeriscape setting. Xeriscapes can be found in any style including rock gardens and desert or succulent gardens.

  • A rock garden provides gardeners with the opportunity to combine both shade and sun-loving plants in the same space. Rock garden plants should be chosen according to the climate and growing conditions within a given area. Many perennials, low-lying shrubs, bulbous plants and annuals thrive in a rock garden setting
  • Desert and succulent gardens can be created by adding a variety of cacti, succulents, ornamental grasses and other drought-tolerant plants to the garden.

Rain gardens not only protect the quality of water but also welcome wildlife. A rain garden is a naturally shallow or dug out depression in the ground designed to catch rain that would otherwise turn into runoff; and with the addition of native plants, a rain garden can be an attractive landscaping feature.

Wildlife gardens can welcome an array of animals, such as pollinators, or simply a particular type, such as butterflies.

  • A pollinator garden includes a diversity of flowers that attract a multitude of birds, butterflies, beneficial insects and small mammals responsible for pollination.
  • A butterfly garden includes a variety of shrubs, fruit trees, herbs and flowers.

Permaculture gardens are also environmental and wildlife friendly.

Urban Gardens

Gardeners in the city also have options with specialty gardens. These may include rooftop gardening and container gardening.

  • Rooftop gardens are great alternatives for urban gardeners. A rooftop garden is sometimes challenging due to hot, windy rooftop conditions but with the proper design and plant selection, these gardens are well worth the effort.
  • Container gardening offers the chance to transform even the smallest of spaces, such as balconies, into a beautiful garden throughout the seasons. With adequate drainage, nearly any container or plant can be used for growing plants.

Cutting Gardens

Some gardeners plant special cutting gardens. These may consist of only a few plants in particular or numerous varieties. Flowering bulbs, perennials, annuals, ornamental grasses and many shrubs make excellent candidates for cutting.

Children’s Gardens

A children’s garden is a great way to get the kids interested in gardening. Most of these gardens come with a theme of their choosing. Children have a natural gift of the imagination, and this is all that is needed. Themes can be based on a favorite game, story character, place, animal, hobby or even an educational focus.

Edible Gardens

Edible gardens can include anything from herb and vegetable gardens to edible flower and orchard gardens.

With so many specialty gardens to choose from, you’re certain to find a unique gardening style to fit the needs of any gardener.

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