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Creating Themed Gardens by Cath Manuel

15 June, 2021

There are many possibilities for creating garden spaces in all locations, where many people access and enjoy growing fresh food.

When growing food for use in the kitchens it can be helpful to design spaces to grow plants for a variety of cuisines, for many uses and also to be creative when planting new gardens.

One way to create spaces that everyone can feel ‘at home’ in is with themed gardens.

This is where garden beds are given themes for growing. Each theme could be based on world flavours, fruit grown, medicinal plants or sensory experiences.

Deciding on the theme or flavour of a garden is definitely a group effort, which encourages good conversation, opportunities for researching plants, social interaction and sharing of knowledge. Plus all the fun of growing delicious, beautiful plants and sharing in the kitchen!

Here’s a few of my favourite garden themes with plants to grow…

 Pizza & Pasta – fresh ingredients taste delicious on pizza and in a garden-fresh pasta sauce.

In this garden grow basil, tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum, chilli, parsley, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, silverbeet, broccolini, kale, rocket, coriander, onion, spring onion, leek, garlic, dill, fennel, squash and zucchini.

A Touch of Spicefoods that add spice to mealtimes.

Flavour, scent and colour are important for all the foods we eat. When food smells and looks delicious it helps to start our digestion and leads to an enjoyable food experience.

There are many foods that can be grown in the garden that will spice up the dining experience, including coriander, mustard leaves and seeds, caraway, fennel, dill, chives, tarragon, paprika, chilli, garlic, ginger, turmeric, galangal, lemon myrtle, kaffir lime or bay tree.

For extra flavour in many dishes grow and use a bouquet garni, which traditionally includes sprigs of parsley and thyme with bay leaves. For other flavours use rosemary or tarragon.

Tutti Frutti – sweet treats from the garden.

Include stevia, lemon balm, choc mint and spearmint in pots, cape gooseberry, strawberry, blueberry, midyim berry, rhubarb, rosella or dwarf fruit trees. Grow nasturtiums, viola and native viola for extra colour in the garden and edible flowers.

Salad & Stir Fry – fresh crispy greens to pick and enjoy.

Picking fresh leafy greens and herbs from the garden then tossing together a salad or a quick stir fry is healthy, delicious also highly nutritious!

There are so many seasonal foods to grow for healthy meals and mostly super easy, quick growing crops.

For an easy start try lettuce varieties, silverbeet, kale, asian greens, parsley, coriander, chervil, basil, chives, mint, tarragon and sorrel…just a few of my favourites!

Also grow marigold to use the edible petals and nasturtiums for the edible flowers, leaves and flower buds (pickle these and use just like capers).


  • Choose plants to suit your climate
  • Grow seasonal crops for best results
  • Allow flowers to ‘go to seed’ to collect and use in cooking or for growing in the garden. Coriander, parsley and dill are fabulous for this!
  • Plants can be grown in the garden or in containers
  • Choose containers that are suitable size for plant growth, eg a low shallow dish is great for mint varieties.
  • Start growing from seeds or seedlings – find the steps here https://soiltosupper.com/simple-steps-to-sowing-seeds/
  • Following organic growing methods where possible. Find ideas for organic gardening at https://soiltosupper.com/easy-ideas-for-organic-gardening/

If you create a few themed gardens in your outdoor space then you’ll have year-round access to a variety of fresh foods to create tasty dishes from around the world!

If you have any questions about your garden or establishing a gardening program please contact me – cath@soiltosupper.com

Bon appetit,


Cath Manuel is the founder of Soil to Supper and a specialist in therapeutic horticulture and kitchen gardens. Cath has many years’ experience in the horticulture industry, especially within the field of therapeutic horticulture, and provides programs both online and onsite. She also delivers unique training and provides support for people wanting to enjoy a career in Therapeutic Gardening. Cath has a great passion for sharing her knowledge to inspire and support people of all ages and abilities to enjoy gardening for improved health and wellbeing.

Find more on therapeutic gardening at www.soiltosupper.com