How to Create a Goth Garden
Whether you are into scary gardens, a witches’ medicinal herb garden of ‘cures and curses’ or awesome black plants, a Goth Garden is for you.
Halloween marks the beginning of the trifecta of big Fall and Winter holidays. Whether you are into scary gardens, a witches’ medicinal ‘cures and curses’ herb garden, or a Goth garden full of vampires and zombies– creating a Halloween landscape doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
A Goth Garden and the love of Goth gardening is inspired by the dark, brooding Gothic gardens popular in the Victorian era. Quite simply, a Goth garden suggests a fascination with cemeteries and death. Themes of death and decay dictate the use of black plants. Today, expressing your inner dark side with homemade or store-bought tombstones, gargoyles, flickering lights (no open flames, please) and cobwebs will add drama as uneasy guests make their way to your front door.
A Scary Goth Garden
Creating a Goth garden is the perfect time to repurpose any lifeless shrubs and fallen scraggly limbs that you have hidden behind the garden shed since spring. Plant them (again) or prop them up with wooden stakes (which could be handy if vampires appear). Using a succulent such as Dragon’s Blood Sedum or ornamental Blood-lies-Bleeding will add to the creepy effect.
Scary gardens– with lichen-covered tombstones, spider’s webs and illuminated pumpkins– are easy to set up. Every community has over-achievers who turn their entire property into a goth garden landscape for Halloween. But you can provide a festively spooky experience in smaller spaces with well-placed elements and containers filled with black plants.
Black Plants are Totally Goth
Thankfully, the past decade in horticulture has produced wickedly delightful shrubs, trees and flowers that are easy to find and perfect for a Goth garden. Colors ranging from deep burgundy, purples, to almost black flowers and foliage are readily available at local big-box stores, nurseries and online.
Examples of Goth Garden and Halloween-appropriate plants are Persian Shield, Southern Living® ‘Purple Pixie’ loropetalums and Monrovia® ‘Little John’ azaleas. Also popular are Proven Winners® ’Black Pearl’ heucheras, Ajuga reptens ‘Black Scalllop’ and Coleus ‘Black Prince.’ If your prefer growing from seed, check out black violas in Burpee’s Atlas Seed Mix or Baker Creek ‘Black King’ seeds.
Tingle the spines of your trick-or-treaters with a display of Canna Tropicanna® Black, surrounded by black pansies, Coleus ‘Dark Star’ or Coleus ‘Black Patent Leather’, Perilla frutescens ‘Aka Shiso,’ and black Mondo grass spilling over the edge of open Victorian cremation urns.
Witches’ Brew in the Garden
Many Goth gardens also include herbs. The creepy names of the herbs found in ancient witches’ herb gardens– such as bear’s foot, bull’s eyes and ass’s ears– had a very practical purpose. The creepy names helped protect untrained herbalists from poisoning themselves.
To recreate these gardens, plant dark-colored herbs and vegetables such as ‘Dark Opal’ basil, almost black ‘Ibis Hybrid’ lettuce, Black Spanish radish, ‘Black Krim’ tomatoes and ‘Purple Beauty’ peppers. Use broken pallet slats with hand-painted eerie common and folkloric names as plant labels. Adding garden accoutrements like scarecrows, hanging bats, straw brooms, and black pots will round out your coven-ient (see what I did there?) outdoor kitchen.
Don’t abandon hope all ye who enter the abyss of Goth gardening. Check out my Pinterest boards (Jardinière Noir and Grave Gardens) for more spooky plant and décor inspiration. But don’t be offended if your Halloween landscape intimidates trick-or-treaters or their parents. It just means chocolate for you.
For More Inspiration:
Jardinnaire Noir – Black Plants for Your Garden
Grave Gardens – Cemeteries, gravestones, statues, artwork
Teresa Watkins is a nationally known garden writer and the owner of Sustainable Horticultural Environments.
For more great Halloween decorating ideas, read: