A garden, by definition, is a carefully planned area, normally inside, set aside for personal pleasure, the display, and cultivation of various types of flora and fauna. The single most distinguishing characteristic defining a wild garden, however, is solitude. A garden can include both artificial and natural materials. A wild perennial flower bed, for example, can be as arid or as diverse in species as the surrounding landscape. Even the most utilitarian garden, however, must provide a sense of privacy to those who dwell within its boundaries.
Gardening has many definitions; the most common, of course, is gardening for pleasure. However, for purposes of this article, the term “garden” refers generally to any decorative arrangement of plants intended for ornamental purposes only. A manicured lawn, for example, may be a garden, but it would not be considered one, nor would an alfresco dining experience. Gardens are generally intended for growing beauty rather than sustenance.
A gardener who seeks aesthetic gratification is not necessarily a gardener who plants flowers for their attractiveness, although some plants do meet that criteria. Ordinarily, a gardener is someone who likes to grow plants that are attractive, or simply “cool.” A gardener does not necessarily have to like plants. In fact, a certain degree of dislike may be a necessary component of the hobby. Many of us live in regions where we are surrounded by plants, many of which we detest, on a daily basis! So the desire to own and enjoy plants is not a prerequisite for a gardener.
Most people interested in the hobby of gardening would agree that most plants need a lot of water. A well-drained soil is important to a gardener, as is a regular supply of water. Herbs do well in dry habitats, but they do best in a relatively moist garden. The gardener should check the soil and water conditions regularly, especially if he has a large garden. A gardener who grows plants primarily for decorative purposes would not likely be interested in herbs. But the avid gardener could very well include herbs in his landscape design.
As the name implies, a rock garden is designed with rocks, whether real or artificial, to frame a view or to frame a border. Rock garden design can range from simple, attractive oases to ornamental rock plants. Much like a landscaping border, a rock garden provides a focal point that draws attention and creates a mood. The use of landscape lighting can add drama to a rock garden, as can planting varieties of flowering perennials.
Gardening today is more individualized than it was in years past. Some gardens are focused on a theme, such as a Japanese Zen garden or a strictly vegetable garden. But more commonly, gardens incorporate plants from all around the world, bringing a diversity of textures, colors, and tastes to a backyard landscape. A backyard garden can be an expression of a person’s personality, an education about plants and their growth, or even a method of gardening to feed the entire family.