Embrace your free-spirited creativity with a bohemian landscape. This highly malleable design leaves lots of freedom for new forms. Although it’s typically an interior design theme, there’s no reason why we can’t break the convention and bring it outside. It offers fertile ground and many fresh ideas for the garden!
The Bohemian Backstory
A bohemian refers to anyone who lives an unconventional lifestyle. It’s often associated with artists, vagabonds, and travellers and is thought to come from the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic originally. It started as a movement in 19th century Paris when artists began to reject the pursuit of wealth and seek an alternative way of life focused on beauty and travel. As a design style, it embodies the principles below.
Bohemian Design Principles
‘Eclectic’ is perhaps the defining word for boho designs. It’s not confined to any particular style but borrows from everywhere and everything. Persian rugs, abstract modernist paintings, a macrame hammock, and a collection of antique pickle jars—bring them together, and you have boho.
In the garden, this looks like exploring beyond common garden themes and weaving together arrangements from many sources, including vintage decorations, unique combinations of plants, and statement features.
More Is More
Minimalism is trending these days, but not with those who love bohemian design. Boho is a style that embraces a full orchestra of decor. Inside, this feels like a baroque painting that’s come to life. Outside, this means forgetting the polished edges and symmetrical plantings and creating a rich and varied landscape. It also means lots of plants!
In line with abundance is the practice of layering. In a boho bedroom, you might find layers of coloured textiles on the bed, or hanging art pieces in front of other art, while in your landscape, this translates into layers of plantings, multiple colours, and manifold scents. Just imagine your garden as a multi-storied forest where each corner is a unique experience.
There’s not necessarily one palette for bohemian designs, but the colours often include earth tones, like red, burnt orange, beige, and brown. Try using ornamental grasses, bark mulch, burgundy coral bells, ninebark, and others in the garden. Don’t forget to add bold highlights of amethyst, jewel yellows, or electric blue, often found in boho styles.
True to the money-saving habits of artists, bohemians are known for their healthy use of vintage furniture. Step inside a bohemian room, and you’re likely to find 1970s couch pillows, an antique globe, and a few lamps from the Jazz Era. Outside, you could express this funky style with wicker furniture, an antique lantern, and a hippy tapestry above the deck, as well as plants with an old-growth feel, like ferns and hostas.
As a designer, think of yourself as a wandering traveller who has collected souvenirs from many places and displays them in one magnificent collection. An English rose garden, beside a Tuscan field of lavender, next to a native aspen grove—that’s the beginning of a bohemian landscape.
There’s no formula or fixed rules for a bohemian design. If you’re trying to copy something or someone, you’re losing the essence of boho! It’s more about defying the conventions, letting loose, and making an arrangement that’s entirely your own.
Whether we’re rooted in one place or not, there are bohemian qualities within all of us. We don’t necessarily need to travel to live a free-spirited and creative life. We can begin right where we are, and the garden is one place where we can bring these ideas to life!