Growing a Goth Garden

Do you find Wednesday Addams’s sardonic humor and macabre tastes relatable? Yearn for the tragically beautiful aesthetic of a vampire? Prefer Kaz Brekker to Percy Jackson? 

If you’re someone who likes to forage for antiques or who would sacrifice the protagonist’s best friend, then a goth garden is the right way to go. 

Both bizarre and darkly intriguing, a goth or gothic-themed garden evokes the atmospheric quality of a Victorian novel, but without the seedier aspects.

Black is a color that many gardeners eschew in their yard, but when integrated with Old World elements and an array of darkly-hued plants, it can produce iconic results that will never go out of style. 

What is a goth garden?

The goth aesthetic commonly espoused in Western media features dark clothes, a depressive mood, and eyes smeared with eyeliner. However, the origins of the goth design are far, far older, stemming from the gothic architecture of Medieval Europe. 

Traditionally, gothic gardens all share a few common motifs: crumbling statues with moss and mildew clinging to their surfaces, derelict courtyards overrun with ivy, and tenebrous areas where specters lurk.

While this may sound a bit dramatic, it can help to draw inspiration from your favorite gothic books and TV shows. Many gothic elements such as arches tipped with pointed finials, near-black flowers, and black accented raised beds can easily be incorporated into your garden for a dramatic flair. 

Are black roses real?

Pure black roses have achieved almost mythical status – as both a bane and a miracle. Skeptics opine that they give off the same air as a YA protagonist who claims that her bright blue hair actually grows out of her scalp that color – and they’re right.

Nowadays, anyone trying to sell you true black roses is a fraudster. Rose aficionados may be saddened to learn that black roses are not real, though certain rose varieties can appear as such during a trick of the light. Even the supposed black roses of the lost city of Halfeti, situated on the picturesque banks of the Euphrates, are in fact a rich cabaret color so dark that it appears black. 

Now that we've answered a couple of common questions, let's get to growing your goth garden.

1. Select darkly-hued plants

Plants of a darker shade can be thrilling, refreshing, or just plain cool. Most black plants are not actually pitch-black upon closer inspection, but shot through with underlying colors of inky purples, smoky reds, and maroon browns. Some of these intriguing florals look like they were weaned off the waters of Lethe and seem content to party in the House of Hades for all eternity.

Don’t limit yourself to just flowers – many edible vegetables are loaded with endlessly fascinating deep hues (and anthocyanins). Heirlooms such as 'Black Krim' Tomatoes are steeped in history while the Black Bearded Iris looks lavish enough to be accoutered for the black parade.

2. Rebrand your garden with intriguing hardscaping

While there is a horror element in gothic tales, the genre above all conveys a sense of faded grandeur, evading the shock value prevalent in contemporary horror. Beauty, aristocracy, and horror intertwine to create a somber yet darkly decadent mood – and your garden should be reflective of that.

Vintage items, from rusted sundials to ornamental lanterns, add an eerie ambiance that emulates the twisting pathways of a once noble manor house, now fallen into dissolution. A dramatic steel arch, designed to withstand florid, flowering vines, lends sophistication and Old World glamour to a macabre setting. 

3. Sculpt with naturalistic hedges and medicinal herbs

Duality, long embodied by the ubiquitous yin-yang symbol, is what makes life so interesting. Some of the most toxic plants in the world can also yield cures, and medicinal herbs may be just what the doctor ordered.

Naturalistic hedges are highly attractive to pollinators and can also provide a screen of privacy. Even if grown for purely aesthetic purposes, these plants help soften the space among the harsher denizens of the garden. Take your interests to the extreme with a poison garden – not recommended for someone susceptible to malign influences. 

4. Take a relaxed approach in the yard

A goth garden is possibly the only place where your neglected Dusty Miller feels right at home.

A typical gothic setting showcases gnarled cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss in an opulent display of death and decay. Straight lines and neatly manicured hedges have no place in a goth garden – a place where the unwanted rebels of the plant world can come out to play.

Unless they’re of a belligerent variety, leave your grass and dandelions alone. Uncombed grasses, overgrown patches, and a weed here and there are all tolerated, if not wholly welcome. Barren seed heads and leaf litter not only forge a rustic feel, but provide food for wandering pollinators. 

5. Make your garden pollinator friendly

Leave the summoning circle open for pollinators, including the forgotten kin of butterflies – moths (a common fixture in horror but sadly not gardens). Dedicate a small portion of your yard to a moon garden or supplement with a plethora of darkly-colored native plants, many of which are attractive to pollinating insects.

Look for Green Wizard Coneflower, Dahlia 'Verrone's Obsidian', and certain astilbe and sunflower varieties.

Water sources from a fountain, birdbath, or even a sprinkler can attract wild-life to your garden.

6. Let in the light

Solar lights are an easy fix for those that want to illuminate their plants at night, but find some of the options available garish. Elegant and efficient, these solar lights infuse your gloomy menagerie of plants with light.






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