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Creating a garden is something many of us look forward to, but a garden is just a space until a theme is put in place. We have some wonderful ideas of how you can gather some of your favorite plants and flowers and mix them together with some of your favorite garden accents.

Planting small, quiet flowers next to large, deep firs can create a wondrous illusion of walking through low growing weeds in a giant’s forest. Where planting great, vibrant flowers around slight, muted trees produces an urge to grab the big stick in that giant’s garden and whack through the fiery mess of vegetation - you never know when he might stomp right on you. Both of these gardens can be considered one of two things - neglected landscaping in need of a rake or a bad execution or a theme in need of a chainsaw. If the later, the landscaper who produced these gardens did not know that when creating a purposefully themed garden there are some simple guidelines to keep from letting a garden design control you.

Choosing a theme may seem like the simplest part of a gardening project, but,  not to be contradictory, it is the most complicated. Even a color theme can feel difficult when factoring in ground type and climate location and space provided for execution. For example, a southwestern style garden would likely not be a wise choice for a location that sees all four seasons, has equal shade and direct sun, and competes for space inhabited by large trees and shrubs. However, that style garden could work in a northeastern setting if the plants used were compatible with the northeast. Plants with similar shapes and coloring as those found in the southwest but grow in the northeast, can create the impression of what the desired effect should be.

Planning the layout of a themed garden requires a centerpiece, accent pieces, and an ability to maximize the space provided. A centerpiece can be anything from a large, stone fountain to a small, red picnic table. Centerpieces provide a starting point for planning the layout of a themed garden. Eyes should be first drawn to the main feature and gradually wander taking in the whole of the scene. Small accent pieces should echo but not mimic the centerpiece – be subtle. If too many statement pieces were placed in a garden, the theme would seem chopped and hectic creating a feeling of discomfort. Unless the desired effect is to show one garden is separate from another, maximize space by gradually moving away from a theme when reaching the borders. By doing so, the illusion of a larger garden is created.

A great practice for designing the layout of a themed garden is to use graphing paper to draw in the plantings and objects planned to be used. Many landscapers use this same tactic and will be of great use to you. Be sure to measure the area the garden will be placed and acquire accurate dimensions of the features and accents. Color photographs, paint chips, and the drawing when placed together make the execution painless - except for the splinters. However, not every detail needs to be planned out in advance, and leaving some space to shift plants or switching statues could be beneficial to the appearance of the garden.