The Idea Garden at Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA, offers innovative ideas for home gardeners using native plants
Located near the entrance to Garden in the Woods is the Idea Garden, which showcases innovative uses of native plants in a more “designed” setting. The Idea Garden is quite the opposite of the rest of the Garden, which provides a naturalistic setting for our native species. Whether in pots, hanging planters, on rooftops, or in the landscape, the ideas presented in the Idea Garden can be adapted by gardeners to make their own landscapes more exciting through the use of native plants.
The Idea Garden was redesigned in 2011 to include a conversation area (called the Conversation Ring), an edible garden, a rooftop garden, a sedge lawn, a small patio garden, an herb garden, and the invasive plants jail.
In building the Conservation Ring, a privacy fence was created with a berm, trees, and shrubs. Large bolders were set in a circle to create the conversation area. At the center is the Fireball, a sculpture which spins and tumbles around a small metal bowl which holds burning wood. This pieces was created by artist Ben Caras in collaboration with the horticulture staff. Walkways to and within this area were created with cobble stones, some new and some antique.
The Patio is a container garden with pots of native plants providing exciting alternatives to the use of annuals. How about planting pitcher plants? They perform well, help control bugs within the area, and provide a fascinating focal point to the container. With differing shapes, sizes, colors of foliage and blossoms, native plants work beautifully in patio pots. By varying the shapes, sizes, and colors of the pots, a patio takes on new dimensions.
The Roof Garden or Green Roof was a concept researched for four years on the top of the shed in the Idea Garden. Different plants were checked for their ability to withstand the extremes of heat and cold, lack of water, and other side effects of living on a roof. A roof garden is a dynamic alternative to asphalt roofing. It provides a great layer of insulation for
both summer and winter benefits, showcases a variety of plants, and controls rain runoff. Will Clausen redesigned the roof in 2012 as his summer project. Half of the roof was much hotter and was planted with various grasses. The other half was cooler and was planted with a variety of cooler colors with a few yellows and oranges for punch.
The Edible Garden of 2012 was transformed into a container Garden. Click here for a full description of the Edible Garden by Senior Horticulturist Kristin DeSouza.
In 2011, the Invasive Plant Jail was relocated from the New England Rare Plant Garden to the Idea Garden. This exhibit of invasive species helps conservationists and gardeners know these plants, understand how to remove them, and helps decide which native species make excellent substitutes.
The Herb Garden underwent a redesign in 2012 with a new entry to the Idea Garden created, a smaller herb spiral designed, and a new habitat box added for animals to utilize as living space.
The Idea Garden is literally full of ideas for gardeners to adapt to their own landscapes whether their landscapes are large or small. Come back to the Idea Garden at Garden in the Woods often to see what has been added or changed.