Beginning the series after all seven seasons had been released, I arrived late to the “Game of Thrones” party. I plowed through all seven seasons within three months and was left to pine away for the release of the eighth and final season in April. I had months to think about the future of the realm and what would happen when the White Walkers battle the united Houses and the Free Folk; winter was coming.
I designed the 2019 Annuals Garden and Pavilion beds while binge-watching “Games of Thrones” and named each bed design after my new favorite television show. As I pored over my plans, I found it somewhat difficult to name such bright and happy designs in honor of a TV series that can be so dark and grim. I began to ask myself if the garden would seem gimmicky or it would offend visitors. After naming half of the designs, I abandoned the plan.
Then something unexpected happened and inspiration knocked me over the head when I saw Dior: From Paris to the World at Denver Art Museum. I was struck that Christian Dior and his succeeding creative directors named each dress. The meanings of some dress names are obvious while others are more of a mystery. The names provided something additional to ponder and more significance to each design. I decided right then and there that I will always name my garden designs as they, too, are pieces of art. It no longer mattered what others thought because it is an important and fun part of my creative process.
I pulled parallels of the plant colors, textures and moods from settings, objects, language, battles and characters of the “Game of Thrones” world:
- Fire and Ice is the name for the design on the west berm in the Annuals Garden. This is homage to George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” novels from which “Game of Thrones” is adapted. The plant and flower colors are rich with warm burgundy contrasted with frosty whites and silvers. This bed is the backdrop for two houses that merge together in wedding ceremonies. Look for cascading, burgundy Amaranthus caudatus ‘Dreadlocks’ spilling over the wall and bluish-silvery cardoon to be standouts in this bed.
- Khaleesie graces the name of the garden bed across from Fire and Ice. it is a raised planter in the center of the garden. The color palate is similar but has more of a tonal array of burgundy, pink and silver. Lime green is added to enhance this design. It is a beautiful composition in color and many of the blossoms are exquisite—fit for Khaleesie. Towering cactus formed Nuit d’ Ete dahlias are a companion to the lime green Abutilon, also known as flowering maple.
- Drakarys, the Dragon Queen’s command for her dragons to breathe fire, inspired the bold, bright and warm colors of the two beds to the north along the water’s edge. Bright salvia called Love and Wishes and orange, tasseled Irish Poet are two new favorite annual flowers of mine.
- Milk of the Poppy is a garden bed designed with all white and cream flowers, mixed with green. If one lingers too long here, one might fall into eternal sleep. Spiked Rocket White snapdragons pierce through mounds of Vanilla marigolds.
- The Rains of Castamere is adjacent to Milk of the Poppy, featuring soft pink, coral and peach floral tones. Dark foliage plants and grasses are mixed in with the sweet hues. I chose this design name after the song of the same name written in the “A Song of Fire and Ice” novels, because it is performed at the end of the episode “Blackwater” by one of my favorite bands, The National. I selected plants with dark gray and black hues that remind me of rain and the battle of Blackwater that took place in the episode. This bed features two types of ornamental millets: Purple Majesty and Copper Prince.
- The Wall is the long bed to the south where upright columnar basil (Ocimum ‘Lesbos’) will create a hedge-like wall when fully grown. The plants in between the basil have dark hues and silvery whites. This wall planting represents The Night’s Watchmen in their back clothing keeping a watchful eye for the icy Night King and his army of the dead.
- Weirwood is the name of the bed to the east. This bed has a very large Quercus shumardii, or Shumard oak. The leaves turn scarlet red in fall. In “Game of Thrones,” Weirwood is a tree considered sacred to characters who worship the Old Gods. Weirwood trees have red leaves just like the Shumard Oak in the bed.
- Wildling, Dorne and Highgarden are the three rectangle beds to the south. The bed named for the Wildlings is bright and features plants that attract pollinators. I thought Wildling was a great name for this design because the naturalistic and free form design reminds me of what the Free Folk live for. Bright violet cleome and tricolored ornamental peppers make a statement in this wild design. The middle Dorne bed is long with yellow and purple flowers, fit for Dornish highborns to roam. Little Gem marigold has a lemony fragrance in this Dornish bed. The Highgarden bed to the west is lush, showing fleshy hues and romantic blossoms of Versailles Flush cosmos and CHANTILLY ™ Light Salmon snapdragons. This bed is named for the prosperous city of Tyrell. It boasts billowing flowers that are pure and innocent, just like Margaery Tyrell!
- To the south, a long planter rests underneath a gray pergola. This design has many layers of flowers and foliage plants. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) and dark hues of petunias contrast with the red foliage of coleus and impatiens. This was the first bed I named; can you guess what I called it? The name of this design is Red Wedding.