The 52-acre Brooklyn Botanic Garden, founded in 1910, features more than 10,000 plant varieties and is noted for its collection of flowering cherry trees. It's also beloved for its numerous display gardens, which are a perfect place for home gardeners to get ideas for their landscapes.
The red gate in the background of this photo may be a traditional element of Japanese gardens, but it's also a great example of how you can use garden structures to give your garden impact and uniqueness. Consider painting a pergola, arbor, or fence to give it a year-round pop.
Like most plants, spring-blooming bulbs look best in large numbers. Here, waves of thousands of English bluebells put on an amazing show for a few weeks in spring. You may not have room to put on a display like this but you can get the look by naturalizing lots of blue Siberian squill in your lawn.
Few plants catch our attention and evoke the emotional response that roses do. Happily, there are roses that thrive with little care in virtually every garden. See a wonderful selection at the BBG's rose collection.
Many common garden plants put on their prime show for just a couple of weeks. So get more from your landscape by choosing plants with several seasons of interest. For example, flowering cherry trees have beautiful blossoms, but look for selections that also display great fall color and have attractive bark.
Walk through the BBG's conservatory and you'll see a variety of tropical plants -- many of which will thrive in a bright kitchen, living room, or bedroom. The colorful croton with red, orange, yellow, and green leaves (shown in this photo) is just one example that you can grow at home.
Conservatories are a perfect place to battle cabin fever because they surround you with lush tropical growth, fragrant flowers, and warm, moist air.
Tuck in an evergreen or two for year-round interest. Evergreens are especially useful for gardens in snowy climates, such as New England, the Midwest, and Mountain West. Do a little research or walk through a public display garden and you may be amazed at the variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of evergreens. There are even flowering varieties such as rhododendrons.
Extend the beauty of a garden through fall by planting trees, shrubs, and even perennials that have foliage that turns beautiful colors in autumn.
Water has a magical effect in the landscape; it makes any garden more memorable. Find a way to include a water feature, however small (even a birdbath or tabletop fountain), in your yard.
Give your yard a professionally designed look by framing views. It can be as simple as situating a dramatic plant or piece of landscape art so it's seen through an arbor or pergola. Or take a lesson from this photo and line a walkway with shrubs or small trees.
Keep your garden safe for you and guests by providing good pathways. Materials such as brick, slate, and pavers offer solid footing and come in a wide range of colors, styles, and prices. Or consider gravel, wood mulch, and other less common choices to fit your landscape's look.
Exotic plants, such as lotus, give your garden a special touch. They appear out of the ordinary, but many are no more difficult to grow than the plants already in your yard.
Be sure to add a few extra plants of your favorite flowers so you can cut the blossoms and bring them indoors to decorate your home or office -- or to share with friends and family.