Everyone has different fantasies for what they want their backyard or front yard to look like; some want clean-cut grass to take a stroll on, while some want all varieties of colorful, fairytale flowers to complete that cottagecore vibe. But for those of you who are all for the gothic Victorian aesthetic, I have some good news! Now you can create and customize a goth garden that reflects your aura and life philosophy perfectly. Perpetual Halloween in your front yard!
Origins of gothic gardening
There’s no doubt about it, gardening is more than just a hobby or a pastime; it is an art, a medium to express yourself and your personality, just like makeup, or clothes, or painting. Therefore it comes as no surprise that as early as the 1970s, the idea of picturesque gardens modeled on certain aesthetics like castles, Gothic ruins, rustic cottages, etc. was becoming popular. People are now more intrigued by the proposition of experimenting with their own gardens similarly, making them thematic and interesting.
Plants that complete the look
As you can guess, the color themes for such a concept would be black or red, overlapping with grey. So you’re gonna want to pick flowers that give off a creepy and hauntingly beautiful vibe.
For starters, you could repurpose and replant old, lifeless shrubs, which would be a great addition to the look and will allow the plants to bloom again. You can then go on to buy plants like ’Black Pearl’ heucheras, Coleus ‘Black Prince’, Cobra Lily, Skunk Cabbage, etc. The Black Bat flower with its unique tentacle-like structures and the gorgeous, fragrant Black Hyacinths are highly recommended for their shades of black. Black Poppies have an infamous reputation too, having been considered the flowers of sleep in mythology. On a more scarlet red, rich-blood colored side are Black Dahlias in full bloom or the Ti Plant with a patchwork of bright ruby and black on its leaves.
Aside from these, you can also choose to go anti-color and pick arid, spiky-looking plants and trees, which will give an edge to your garden (pun intended). I know it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of plants aside from the pretty pink, yellow, and green ones we tend to see daily, but trust me, Mother Nature has a gothic side of her own and there are so many ‘death colored’ plants that can give your garden life!
Plants that create the gothic concept
It is not just about the looks or colors, though. Plants that complete the intent of your garden with their importance in the history of witchcraft or their special, creepy properties belong just as much. There is literally a chili pepper by the name Vampire, with demonic black and blood-red plants and a taste so hot that you’d rather stay away from it. You can also go for the toxic Actaea pachypoda, a shrub with unsettling white berries that give the plant its common name of ‘doll’s eyes’.
Then there are plants with some witchcraft-related purposes, such as ‘Dark Opal’ basil, ‘Black Krim’ tomatoes, Chamomile, Willows, etc. Fun fact, some of these are rumored to have been named things like bull’s eyes, dove’s foot, and calf’s snout- you know, typical Polyjuice Potion ingredients.
Finally, if you’re into that stuff and wanna make your garden really scary, don’t forget creepy plants such as carnivorous ones, or those that stink, or those that just have weird qualities.
Visitors will be terrified as they walk through your field of Mouse Tail Plants, or the insect-eating Cobra Lilies, or the Skunk Cabbages that smell like, well, skunks. Then you have the (figuratively) evergreen Spanish Moss which is the epitome of a Gothic look; its long, grey tendrils shrouded together to create a mystic appearance.
Accessorize and customize it per your own style!
After you’ve planted the plants and done your bit, you can let nature run a little wild. An unkempt, disorderly appearance is more suited to this aesthetic. Letting some (not all) plants wither and become unattractive is probably okay in a Gothic garden scenario.
If you are really, really passionate about giving this garden your all, then you can invest a little more in the Victorian architectural features, like arching structures, broken and weathered statues (especially of gargoyles and such), wrought iron gates, and of course, rustic name plates and signs for your plants. Some skulls and fake tombstones with appropriate lighting will give it a more Halloween-oriented feel.
Again, it’s possible that you’re not willing to take it to extremes and just want a serene, medieval-era place to chill in. You can then look for a more magical approach with fairy lights and night-blooming, sweet-smelling, white specimens, such as moon-garden plants. But remember, customize the garden as crazy or as sane as YOU want it. Gardening is all about having fun and painting your world in your colors, and taking a few pictures while you’re at it!
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