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Gardens are magical places teeming with life and beauty. Vegetable gardens are that way, the heavy fruits hanging on the vine, the sumptuous leaves splaying out. Flower gardens are that way, the aromas emanating from the blooms, the flares of color that come and go throughout the year.

The give-and-go of life is amazing to witness, but part of what makes gardens so mesmerizing is the canvases upon which the plants and animals—let’s not forget birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, worms, butterflies, etc. that make homes in the garden—paint. These are the mediums where we—humans—really come into play.

It’s we who transform our homes and yards to work with nature and participate in these life events. We can choose to build a playground in which all these plants and animals can play. We have so many tools at our disposal.


Source: grian1954/Youtube

Stumperies, for those new to the term, are decorative arrangements of stumps within a garden or space. They also serve a purpose. Many animals love to live underneath stumps or tucked in beneath the bark. Stumps can be arranged both vertically and horizontally to contain soil, a la raised beds, and plants can spill out over the edges. As the wood breaks down, it’ll add fertility. Stumperies are a beautiful, natural element to add to gardens.


Source: Ideas for Home Garden Decor/Youtube

Similar to stumperies, rockeries are imaginative arrangements of rocks in a garden. They can be constructed to act as terrace walls, raised beds, natural statuary, and borders along walking paths. They help absorb heat in the winter, harvest water in drier times, prevent erosion and provide habitat for beneficial animals like garden snakes, frogs, and lizards. Plus, they are a rich resource to add to the garden mix.


Source: Eco Sapien/Youtube

All life needs water. It’s just a fact. So, adding water features to a garden is important for plants and animals. They are also beautifully surrounded by plants, rockeries along the edges, and other natural elements. Birds, bees, butterflies, and more will dance and sing and swoop around the water. A trickling fountain will keep it circulating and make it all the more relaxing. These can be constructed from old pool liners, used IBCs, or even secondhand barrels.


Source: martysgarden/Youtube

Trellises and arbors are amazing and fun things to construct in the garden. Rather than going with store-bought lumber, they can be built from downed limbs, old scraps of fencing, or pallets. The point is they can be diverse, quirky, and plentiful. Lots of plants—beans, kiwis, grapes, passionfruit, jasmine, roses, and so on—like to climb up or along stuff. These can be feature pieces throughout the garden or over walkways.

Fire Pits

One of the most beautiful things to see in a garden is the people who love it. That means we have to put stuff in the garden that’ll draw us into it. Fire pits are wonderful enticements. They can be surrounded by stumps, bordered by rocks, and overlooking ponds. We can sit in the evening with a fire crackling, the frog croaking, and a bit of dinner cooking on the open fire.

Mandalas, Mazes, and Medicine Wheels

Source: Pete Kanaris GreenDreamsTV/Youtube

Whether it’s a mandala garden, garden maze, or medicine wheel, the point is that we can arrange our gardens in interesting ways so that walking through them is an even more enchanting experience. Why go with rectangular beds and rigid lines when nature moves through the world much more fluidly? When designating spaces for garden beds and pathways, we have the opportunity to get creative.


Source: Woodworking Skill/Youtube

Along the lines of a fire pit, anytime we can build a place to put our daily existence in the garden the better and we will be for it. Little raised platforms (freestanding decks) are great for this. We can construct a place to do outdoor yoga sessions, meditate, read, or even work. A comfy platform amid lush vegetation is so inviting.

Bird Perches

We can interpret this in several different ways. Birdhouses often have bird perches, so they are great to add to the garden. Birdfeeders often have bird perches, and they liven things up. Birds seem to have no trouble perching at the edges of birdbaths, and they add yet another valuable water element to the mix. Interesting sticks can be hung from tree branches, or moss-covered limbs can be stood on the ground so that birds can find a place to relax, too.

Amongst all of these things we build in the garden, plants find opportunities. Shade-loving plants might nestle into nooks behind the stumpery. Frost-sensitive plants might cozy up to rocks. New stuff will plant itself beneath bird perches. Vines will climb the trellises, and maybe shade the yoga platform on hot summer days. The ash from the fire pit can add nutrients to the soil.

With some imagination, with harkening back to childhood, we can build diverse and dynamic ecosystems right in our gardens.

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