Each year on March 17th around the world, it seems like everyone wants to be Irish. Even the Irish, who instead of the solemn Catholic mass service normally reserved for recognizing saints; began celebrating the saint's day exuberantly with festivals and pub crawls only in the latter half of the 20th century.
When visiting Ireland, visitors are enchanted with the lushness of the verdant rolling hills and colorful flowerbeds. Fairy-like cottage gardens filled with lupines, snapdragons, cabbage roses, daffodils, Canterbury bells, shamrocks, violas, and ivied trellised walls that climb skyward to golden thatched roofs appeal to our sense of charm and enchantment. Walking among thatched home gardens or the formal castle gardens can even inspire fourth-generation Irish progeny to recreate their holiday memories upon their return to the States.
You may be surprised to learn that many of the plants grown in other countries will thrive wherever you live with the same sunlight, soil conditions, and proper maintenance. If you cannot purchase the actual plant species locally, you can substitute Florida-appropriate shrubs and plants with similar colors, fragrances, and shapes. Finding them is easy by ordering through a good nursery or online catalog. March is a good time of the year to create a garden that will help transport you to another world to relax, meditate. or reminisce during this time of reduced traveling. Let's visit a few countries to discuss their main garden themes.
Moroccan or Spanish themes can be easily accomplished in small backyards or patios with container planting of citrus trees in a stone courtyard surrounding lap pools. Adding wrought iron or black aluminum furniture and grillwork on fences, chimeneas, and decorating with jewel-toned mosaic tiles on stucco walls or along garden paths will complete your design. Large ornamental shrubs like bougainvilleas, Ficus trees, climbing roses, with Mediterranean fig and olive trees planted on the outer perimeters or high wall ensuring privacy and shade, adds to the Spanish ambiance.
Everything in an Asian garden is as you would find it in nature: water bodies need to be round and not flowing from statues but from waterfalls, trees sway in the wind and brave the harsh elements of the Himalayans. When in the first stages of designing a Japanese garden remember that balance in an enclosed area is very important in the Japanese garden. Using rocks, raked sand and swirling linear creases in the sand can be envisioned as an entire ocean and mountains and river streams. Traditional landscaping plants are chrysanthemums, orchids, plum and parsley hawthorn trees, junipers, camellias, water lilies, lotus, clumping bamboo, moss, ferns, grasses, irises, azalea, native wisteria, tea olives, pine, and cedars. St. Luke's Plum and loropetalums can substitute for Japanese maples. Adding lanterns, stone basins, temple statuary, bamboo water features, and low bridges will add movement and structure easily transform it into an Asian garden.
The diverse climates of Africa, from arid deserts to thick rainforests, lends itself to a variety of African gardening styles. There are many plant species available in Florida that were imported from Africa. Unusual succulents like euphorbias and aloes, bulbs such as crocosmias, gladiolas, and rain lilies. Towering tall palm trees hanging with baskets of feathery proteas blend with Transvaal daisies, aloes, amaryllis, crown-of-thorns, gardenias, periwinkles, and African violets. Edible vegetation like coffee, watermelons, okra, millet, figs, and olives create a wild but safe adventure of being on the African continent. Placing African clay pottery among statuary of wild animals, with hanging macaws in a large palm or baobob tree will evoke stirring feelings of being in a jungle. Add sounds of rumbling lions hunting their prey (with the help of your outside stereo). View your garden at night with the help of torch lighting from the safety of your cane patio furniture will set the mood that you're not in Central Florida but at an exclusive hotel in South Africa. Make sure you add hummingbird-attracting plants so that seasonally you will be able to espy one of Africa's native birds, albeit North American hummingbird species. Large rounded boulders and ornamental grasses can finish off your display.
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Resource: Gardens by Country, Wikicommon
Photo credits: Teresa Watkins, Wikicommon,