Romance in the Garden
The right garden can completely change your mood. A romantic garden carries many subtle elements that awaken the senses no matter the scale; whether it is a faint smell of flowers, a wooden bridge over a pond, a meandering path calling you to walk to its end, a vine covered walkway, a hidden seat, or a long avenue of trees with soft night lighting. All these things create romance in the garden.
We asked Paul, Alicia and Axel, Secret Gardens Horticulturists, for some expert advice on how to create romance in the garden and a few cheeky questions on the topic of romance….
1. What key elements make a great romantic themed garden?
Paul: I think romance is in the senses. A garden with the right smells, textures, colours and sounds create a romance, with no rules or formality, like romance itself has a sense of wildness and unpredictability.
Alicia: Plants that pique the senses – aromatic flowers, tomentose (fuzzy) foliage and soft textures would be at the top of my list. Flowering plants that you can pick such as Roses, Hydrangea, Iris, Peony, Salvia and Celosia make easy tokens of love as well as a quick, flirtatious adornment. Plus, cut flowers save you a trip to the florist!
You also can’t fail with a well-placed resting spot with a botanically framed lookout. These entice moments of pause and gratitude and are perfect for that fairy tale moment. Bonus points if you include built structures such as pergola’s draped with vines and/or well-placed love seats. A lush lawn is always inviting as well, anywhere to sit and enjoy company is going to create that atmosphere you want.
2. What’s the sleekest most sexy plant for a garden?
Paul: Brugmansia sanguinia – Red Angel’s Trumpet.
Alicia: Nothing beats a well-placed ornamental tree. Pyrus, Cercis, Acer Palmatum, Bauhinia and Caesalpinia all get special mentions but it’s taking me a lot of self-control to stop just at those.
Axel: Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’ – Corkscrew Willow, for the sexy structure.
3. People like to receive flowers, if someone wanted to get you flowers, what should they choose and why?
Paul: I prefer foliage, I think it has more personality, but if they had to get me a flower it would have to be a Magnolia grandiflora flower, wrapped in Passiflora edulis as the Magnolia is big and beautiful and scented and the passionfruit is small and delicate and colourful.
Alicia: I love getting flowers! You can’t go wrong with the ever traditional dark red rose. Tulips or Dahlia’s are also my favourites. However if someone surprised me with a bouquet of Australian Native’s and wildflowers I’d be damn impressed. On a side-note, if you’re going for Roses; yellow means friendship, so be careful not to do any unintentional friend zoning when you’re putting in an A+ effort.
Axel: To be honest I don’t like receiving flowers. An indoor plant like Ficus lyrata would be better and more interesting to maintain.
4. What attracts you to a person?
Paul: Personality is attractive, as is the sound of their laugh and light of their smile, someone who is themselves, so they standout and shine bright!
Alicia: The ability to make me laugh. That, and a killer taste in music.
Axel: Small details that make her different and that no one could see. It could be sophisticated and natural.
5. What’s the first thing you notice about someone?
Paul: Their energy.
Alicia: The way they hold themselves and if they smile with their eyes.
Axel: Her hair and voice.
6. What do you like most about creating and maintaining gardens?
Paul: The life, the caring, the change and the seasons. Also the ability to understand and watch it all.
Alicia: There is so much I like, the smells of the foliage and flowers, working with my hands and using my eye for detail. The thing I like the most though is knowing that if I’m pleased about how a garden is looking, the client gets to enjoy that beauty every day, which is a really awesome feeling.
Axel: I’m loving my position at Secret Gardens because I can design and redesign, change, improve and maintain some part of the garden to share my ideas with my clients. Everything to make it special for their life.
7. Is there anything you dislike about it?
Paul: Not one thing.
Alicia: I hate it when the insides of my boots get wet.
Axel : Rain and weeds.
8. If someone wanted to take you out, what would be your ideal outdoor date?
Paul: Drinks on the beach in sweltering heat, I’m easy after a few drinks!
Alicia: Horse riding through a mountain/hillside trail to a river or lake where we can go for a dip (bonus points for a waterfall). Preferably in the beginning of Spring just as all the wildflowers have blossomed.
Axel: A secret garden on a Parisian Rooftop with an Eiffel tower view!
9. If you could create your ideal partner, who would they be and what would they do?
Paul: I feel to answer this question would be a recipe for someone to steal my heart and I can’t make it that easy.
Alicia: How long have you got… I’m actually not that picky (**that’s a lie**). He would have to be creative with a very good sense of humour, active and a good communicator. My head is saying he’d be someone that works hard using motor skills but looking at my track record he’s probably a drummer.
Axel: Someone who will inspire the world by her talent, design, art, music, fashion.
10. What’s your favourite scent in the garden?
Paul: Either Gardenia flowers, freshly cut lawn, or petrol when filling up the machinery
Alicia : Artemisia and Prostanthera rotundifolia. I wish they were both more commonly planted! If you take one piece of advice from me please make it this. Smell these plants!
11. Brad Pitt or George Clooney?
Paul: Brad Clooney
Alicia: You know, I ponder this every day. Today is a Clooney day
Axel: Angelina Jolie
12. What is your favourite garden you’ve visited?
Alicia: The Kaisaniemi Botanic Gardens in Helsinki. I was there during November so it was their autumn and the colours were amazing. I filled one of my camera’s SD cards in about 2 hours.
Axel: Alhambra (Grenada/Spain)
13. Where would you love to live?
Paul: I would love to live in a penthouse in Manhattan, New York, surrounded by potted plants, so it feels like I’m in one of those upside down islands from avatar, high up in the clouds.
Alicia: My sister currently lives in the Hunter Valley and the more I visit her the more I love the place.
Axel: All the biggest cities around the world. I have lived in London, Barcelona, Paris and Sydney. I will say New York, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Tokyo are on my wish list.
14. What is the most romantic place in the world?
Paul : The most romantic place in the world would have to be in bed with the person you love.
Alicia: I know it’s cliche but I’m going to have to say Paris. Swoon!
15. How soon is acceptable to drop the ‘L’ word to someone? (Love)
Paul: Any time before you actually feel it!
Alicia: You have to know for sure before you start dropping the L word. And you should probably know it’s going to go down well before you drop it. You can’t be sure any time before a couple of months. However, it’s easy to confuse a great relationship with just watching a really good TV show with someone. So if you’re in that boat, I’d suggest you wait until the show’s off-season to drop the L-Bomb because you don’t want to realise you’ve mistaken love for a really great season of Breaking Bad.
Axel :After few years
16. What’s the most embarrassing date scenario you’ve found yourself in?
Paul: I’m far too charming to ever let anything embarrassing happen to me on a date… To THEM is a different story.
Alicia: Probably realising it was a date halfway through the date itself. He was very prepared. I was not.