Make a Scene

Small vignettes create dramatic focal points.

by Charlie Thigpen   Photography by Chuck St. John

When we were young our parents would tell us not to “make a scene” as we were beginning to misbehave or throw a tantrum. I’m telling you that it’s okay to make a scene — as long as you do it in your garden. Create a scene or small vignette within your garden for a focal point or to inject some personality into your landscape. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your entire landscape looking beautiful, but by taking a small section of your garden, or even a planter, you can fix a little spot that will be easy to maintain but create a unique look. Here are three examples of scenes we created around our landscape.

A stone sidewalk leads to a landscaped hypertufa toad house in this miniature garden. Two small rosemary plants on each end of the house help frame the scene. A few hens and chicks make a tidy foundation planting. ‘Silver Falls’ Dichondra is a low-growing groundcover that I used to create a lawn for the home, and red violas provide blooms in the tiny front yard.

Don’t throw away that broken planter. This cracked container was tipped on its side, planted and given a second life. A small lemon cypress tree creates a centerpiece and purple violas add a touch of color. Angel vine is beginning to creep over the front edge of the planter while a terracotta cherub looks watchfully over the scene.

This decorative bowl was filled only one-quarter of the way with soil so the plantings wouldn’t cover up the markings on the inside of the planter. Three different selections of perennial low-growing Heuchera were planted to provide colorful foliage throughout the year. A few allysum recently planted on the front side are beginning to bloom and release their sweet fragrance. And a copper dragonfly mounted on a stake appears to hover over the bowl.

So let your imagination be your guide, and this spring don’t be afraid to “make a scene.” It might be just what your garden needs.

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