Healthy & Beautiful Gardens – Bringing romance into your garden

Hello, fellow gardeners! Even though it’s not February, I thought this might be a good subject for landscaping this week. I think we’d all like a little more romance in our lives, wouldn’t we?

I don’t recommend planting anything right now. It’s a little too warm, but once we get into fall weather – assuming we get some fall weather – that’s an ideal time to get new plants in the ground as they can acclimate well and have plenty of time to get roots established before the spring growth.

Alright then. What do you think of when I say romantic garden? Many people might think of roses or hearts carved into their garden gate, or they might even think of a Jacuzzi spa for two. Those are all romantic of course, but I’d like to expand on that as well as give some other possible ideas readers might not have even thought of.

One thing that conjures up romance to me is privacy. This can be accomplished through judicious planning of plant and tree placement as well as hardscaping; hardscaping would be things such as trellises, pergolas and gazebos. All of these structures should be covered with fragrant vines for maximum effect.

Fragrance is one of those elements that add romance to the garden, especially in the evening! Roses (English roses, rugosas, and heirlooms are the most fragrant) and jasmine vines are high on my list, but those are not the only options.

How about lavender, mock orange, heavenly scent, honeysuckle, sweet peas viburnums, wisteria or gardenias? These are all great choices.

Citrus trees are a great addition because they smell great when they flower. Is there anything more scrumptious than the scent of orange blossoms?

Lemon verbena is a great plant because it smells great and can be used for potpourri making also.

Those in the Fallbrook area and west of that may be able to grow some of the more tropical fragrant plants as well. Plumeria would be on the top of my list.

Most of these plants are not particularly “drought tolerant.” These are special plants for a special area and deserve special attention.

You can also create “privacy screening” with hedges. There are lots of choices for that purpose, and they don’t necessarily have to be fragrant (although that’s always a bonus).

A great candidate might be Mexican Orange, or “Choisya ternate.” This eight foot evergreen shrub has beautiful white flowers. Buddleia is another great fragrant shrub that comes to my mind, especially since it is actually drought tolerant.

Not only is privacy good from the outside world (neighbors) but you can also create privacy in separate “garden rooms” in your yard. A jazuzzi tub just outside your bedroom door and large potted plants of gardenias and mock orange surrounding and lattice panels on both sides covered with jasminium officinalis would be nice.

Besides fragrance, and privacy, you want to make sure you have some nice comfortable seating areas placed strategically. A large covered swing with pillows for two is a perfect place to sit and relax. If you can manage it without disturbing neighbors, soothing music in the garden is a real plus. There are many stereo systems that can be installed outdoors with speakers that look like rocks or can be built into a patio cover.

If you can’t have a stereo in your yard, how about some strategically placed wind chimes? They have a very relaxing melodic sound that I personally love to hear in the garden. The sound of a stream or fountain is also very romantic and relaxing, so that too would be a wonderful addition. Romance can’t blossom unless one is relaxed so that is the key element to remember.

Of course romance can occur during the daytime, but evening is usually the time when one can unwind and enjoy the garden, so at that time, don’t forget romantic lighting.

It can be as simple as a few candles in special holders for outdoors or you can use very inexpensive solar powered lights. Have lights installed with a dimmer switch or, depending on your garden style, add in some tiki torches for fun.

If your house is situated near a bright street light, that’s where you need to do some privacy blocking so that the light doesn’t intrude into your romantic setting.

Fire, via a firepit or fireplace, is also a very romantic addition to the garden. Don’t forget the comfy seating!

And last, but not least, some beautiful statuary could be a nice addition. This could be a Greek Goddess (Venus) or Cherub, alone or in a fountain. Bring out some cold champagne and you have the perfect romantic getaway in your own backyard.

I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how to bring a little romance into the garden. As always I am available for consultations and design work. Have a great week!

Linda McDonald-Cash is a landscape designer with Unique Landscapes. For more information, call (951) 764-4762 or visit

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