Gardens of Delight: Fantasy-Inspired Garden Ideas

Gardener trimming a plant

Forests and enchanted woods have been a staple of fiction and fantasy as far back as the days of Shakespeare. The Bard wrote many adventures amid towering trees, most notably the unnamed forest in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the Forest of Arden from “As You Like It.” Books are full of fictional woodlands, such as Tolkien’s Mirkwood and Forests of Fangorn, or real forests populated with fictional characters, as in the case of Sherwood Forest.

You can transform your garden into a place where you can envision faerie queens and mysterious creatures dwell. All you need are a few design ideas and tips, the right landscaping supplies, and a drive to turn your dream from fantasy to reality. Take your pick from these enchanting garden ideas.

A Charming and Productive Plot from the Shire

J.R.R. Tolkien loved nature, and few places in Middle-Earth reflect this appreciation of the environment like the Shire. Even the humble but heroic hobbits who live in it are consummate farmers and gardeners, “for all Hobbits share a love of things that grow.”

Hardworking agriculturist and horticulturists turned the location that stood in for the Shire in New Zealand into a working farm and tourist attraction. The attraction features a restaurant that serves food made with ingredients grown on site. If you’re a fan of Tolkien, you can bring a piece of the Shire to your backyard and live off the land as well. All you need to do is tend your lawn, add a few decorative shrubs, and plant your own vegetable garden.

You can fill your vegetable garden with bok choy, artichokes, and onions. Consider planting broad beans and cabbages. You can use these vegetables to make assorted dishes and reduce shopping costs. If you use barberry plants for the hedges, you can turn its berries into jams and jellies. Remember that the Shire has a very organic and natural vibe, so avoid manicuring your lawn to perfection or trimming your plants into rigid shapes.

A Mysterious Overgrown Ruin

Landscaped garden with pondRuins of old castles, haunted fortresses, and forgotten temples are staples of fantasy literature. Much of these draw inspiration from actual ruins found in Europe, Egypt, Middle East, and Asia. From the temples of Ancient Greece to the jungle-covered facades of Angkor Wat, mysterious, tree-covered ruins have piqued countless interests and imaginations.

You can also have your own romantic or enigmatic set of ruins in your garden. This has been a landscaping trend since the 19th century. Victorian globetrotters wanted to have their own backyard ruins after touring Europe and Africa, and so they created the concept of “garden follies.” These simulated ruins can be made of real stone or plaster-covered wood.

Pick a portion of a ruin you would like in your garden. Maybe some broken stairs or the apse of a church. If you can afford it and have the space, build a small replica of an actual ruin. You can use Spanish moss, common ivy, or any of these climbing plants and make it feel like these ruins have been in your yard for centuries.

There are countless kinds of fantasy forests: ghost-riddled woods, enclaves of elves and dryads, and beautiful jungle kingdoms. With the right plants, tools, and experts, you can turn a simple stroll in your garden into a walk among some of the most fascinating fictional environments.

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