People like to personalize their “stuff.”  You see it everywhere, things like family stickers on cars, unique cell phone ring tones, stylized computer covers, etc.  Many different ways to personalize your possessions.  So how about taking it one step further and personalize the space around your home?  Your yard should have a theme that makes it personally yours, even if, or maybe especially if, you live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood.  With a judicious use of plants and landscaping, you can turn your yard into your own personalized theme yard.

It is highly satisfying to live surrounded by a space that speaks to who you are as an individual.  Are you proud of your heritage?  An Italian garden is easy to create here in the Southwest.  Also Greek, Middle Eastern, Spanish, French, Australian, and just about any other warm climate area of origin.  I mentioned the idea of a football themed garden several years ago in this column, and Oriental themed gardens are also a distinct possibility.   Are you a Shakespeare buff?  You could have a Shakespearean yard filled with plants mentioned in his plays and sonnets, and don’t forget the sundial for a touch of the Elizabethan age.  Consider a yard full of plants mentioned in the Bible - easy to do since many of them thrive in our very similar arid environment.

Designing a theme landscape is much like designing any other landscape.  Think about the look you desire, formal or natural, and then select the plants that reinforce that look.  The hard part is keeping in mind the final mature size of the plants and the growing and watering requirements of the plants involved.  

You may need some help creating your theme garden.  That is to be expected, because you want it to look good, not just a bunch of plants plopped into the yard here there and everywhere.  Garden coaches and landscape designers can help create the look you want.

In fiction, the theme is considered one of the fundamental components of the story, and can be a broad idea, message, or moral of the story.  When it comes to yards, having a theme would mean that your yard in not simply an amalgam of whatever ended up there, your yard can help embrace and embody who you are as an individual or family.

(Editor’s Note:  Jacqueline Soule will be offering a series of lectures on theme gardens at the TJCC, starting on March 5.  As well as writing and speaking about plants, Jacqueline works as a garden coach.  For a private consultation call 909-3474.)

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