Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
February, 2004
Regional Report

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Atkins dieters might want to add this beefsteak plant to their gardens.

A Meaty Theme

Gardens based on themes are so much fun to do. You know, like the butterfly/hummingbird garden; the sweet little fairy garden full of foxgloves and teensy furniture; the relaxing tea-for-two garden with mints, lemon verbena, and soothing chamomile; the tasty chef's collection of culinary favorites like rosemary, lemon grass, ginger, and coconut thyme; the fragrant garden with lilacs, roses, jasmine, scented geraniums, and clove pinks.

And for the kids, how about a cute little pizza garden with tomatoes, oregano, and basil; or the alphabet garden with plants from asparagus to zinnia; or how about a zoo-themed garden with a cheerful menagerie, everything from cats-and-kittens to zebra grass.

Finding Inspiration
Those kinds of traditional themes please us either in the kitchen or the crafter's workshop, or in the entertainment and amusement of children and other visitors (and the gardener!). But this year, why not devise something with a little less fluff and a little more meat to it -- a personal theme to reflect your own personality, individuality, and lifestyle. With some imagination and a little research, I'm sure you could come up with something unique.

The Atkins Style, High-Protein Garden
For instance, if you are on the currently popular, high-protein Atkins diet, why not do a theme garden around that? Start with the obvious, as in the beefsteak tomato, then move on to include some real treasures, such as the beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii) and the roast beef plant (Iris foetidissima) -- also called the stinking iris so be duly warned. Then consider a few variants, such as cowslip (Primula), buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), lamb's ears (Stachys), pigsqueak (Bergenia), and goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus).

If your diet includes chicken, add cockscomb (Celosia) and for fish, try trout lily (Erythronium) or basswood (Tilia). I don't know if snake is allowed, but if so, then you should definitely include a snake plant (Sansevieria) or viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare) for good measure. And then there's turtlehead (Chelone glabra) .... well, maybe not.

In case you don't want to take things this far, you can at least start an avocado pit.

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