Gardens can do more than put food on the table or create curb appeal. For some, they're a reflection of values.
An avid reader? That could mean waxing poetic with a Shakespeare garden, which would involve landscaping with all the plants mentioned in his plays and sonnets. Going through a blue period? If Picasso could stick with one color, so can your garden. (Or try blooms in only riotous red.)
Here are some other suggestions for themes that can be fashioned into gardens.
· Colonial: Model your garden after the restored Moravian designs in Old Salem, Mass., by dividing a small patch of ground into squares separated by walkways and inter-planted with vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. Or look to Monticello, near Charlottesville, Va., where Thomas Jefferson, one of the more horticultural presidents, grew more than 350 varieties of fruits and vegetables in his mountaintop orchards and gardens, ranging from asparagus to lavender, tomatoes to table grapes.
· Perfumed: Place this scented garden near a bedroom window or anywhere you spend a few tranquil hours outdoors. Go heavy on the lavender, lilacs, heritage roses, sage and verbena, to name just a fragrant few.
· Tea: Plant an herbal brew of plants that can be converted into enjoyable teas. That includes the flowers and foliage from basil, peppermint, rose hips, chamomile, lavender and lemon thyme, among many others.
· Patriotic: Cultivate an explosive mix of the old red, white and blue with flowers patterned as a flag or made into some kind of lively Fourth of July color display.
· Roof: Top off a sturdy outbuilding with a layer of sod sown liberally with wildflowers. Or use succulents, cactus and other drought resistant plants on the roof of structures where they can be maintained and enjoyed.