Most Western cultures follow the Tropical Zodiac, a derivative of Babylonian and Hellenistic astrology systems.
There are 13 constellations of the Tropical Zodiac, however Ophiuchus isn’t included by most astronomers in standard astrological zodiacs. The remaining 12 constellations are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.
Each of these are called Star Signs or Sun Signs as they reflect the area the sun was traveling through during the year.
Each Star Sign has a range of characteristics attributed to them, a ruling planet and is represented by an animal or figure.
Each Star Sign also belongs to one of the four elements: earth (sometimes called root), air, fire or water.
Each Star Sign also displays the quality of either cardinal (self-motivated, active, ambitious), fixed (stable, determined, persistent) or mutable (adaptable, flexible, sympathetic).
Horticultural Horoscopes, or how to determine your gardening persona by your Star Sign
In the same way that the destinies of people might be determined by the cosmos, so might the fortunes of the plants growing in our gardens. Say goodbye to premature plant deaths forever with our handy horticultural horoscope!
- Aquarius (22 January to 19 February). Flower: Orchid. Tree: Nut trees and most fruit trees.
- Pisces (20 February to 20 March). Flower: Water lily. Tree: Fig, willow.
- Aries (21 March to 20 April). Flower: Geranium, thistle, honeysuckle, witch-hazel. Tree: Any thorn-bearing tree or shrub.
- Taurus (21 April to 21 May). Flower: Rose, poppy, violet, foxglove, vine. Tree: Ash, cypress, apple.
- Gemini (22 May to 21 June). Flower: Lily of the valley, lavender. Tree: Nut trees.
- Cancer (22 June to 22 July). Flower: Acanthus, wild flowering plants. Tree: Any tree rich in sap.
- Leo (23 July to 23 August). Flower: Sunflower, marigold, dahlia, rosemary. Tree: Orange and all citrus trees, bay, palm.
- Virgo (24 August to 23 September). Flower: Small, brightly coloured flowers. Tree: Nut trees.
- Libra (24 September to 23 October). Flower: All blue flowers, large, opulent roses, vines. Tree: Ash.
- Scorpio (24 October to 22 November). Flower: All dark red flowers. Tree: Bushy types of tree, blackthorn, nut trees.
- Sagittarius (23 November to 21 December). Flower: Pinks. Tree: Lime, mulberry, ash, oak, birch.
- Capricorn (22 December to 21 January). Flower: Pansy, hemlock, ivy. Tree: Pine, willow, elm, poplar.
VIRGO is a boring astrological sign to be born under: duty, order, attention to detail and practicality are supposed to be one’s strong points. I have always wanted to be a Leo: proud, confident, generous, ruled by the Sun rather than murky Mercury. Gardeners, though, should probably be Taureans: stable, persistent, steadfast, tenacious, thorough, with the ability to learn from experience.
Modern astrologers never address themselves to important things such as gardening. They are strangely obsessed with peripheral preoccupations: career opportunities, emotional relationships and such like. These are interesting enough in their way but cannot compare with the really big issues: the likely success of a climbing rose; the possibility of a new pot in your life.
In old astrology books, horticulture had a more important part to play. You find lists of plants specially suited to each star sign. Virgoans apparently have an affinity with nut trees. This is exactly the encouragement I need to go out and buy a rather expensive walnut that I have had my eye on for some time. Horoscopes can usually be interpreted to one’s own advantage.
Anyone looking for a similar excuse to spend may find it in the following list of star signs and their associated plants.
- Aquarius (22 January to 19 February). Flower: orchid. Tree: nut trees and most fruit trees.
- Pisces (20 February to 20 March). Flower: water lily. Tree: fig, willow.
- Aries (21 March to 20 April). Flower: geranium, thistle, honeysuckle, witch- hazel. Tree: any thorn tree or shrub.
- Taurus (21 April to 21 May). Flower: rose, poppy, violet, foxglove, vine. Tree: ash, cypress, apple.
- Gemini (22 May to 21 June). Flower: lily of the valley, lavender. Tree: nut trees.
- Cancer (22 June to 22 July). Flower: acanthus, wild flowering plants. Tree: any tree rich in sap.
- Leo (23 July to 23 August). Flower: sunflower, marigold, dahlia, rosemary. Tree: orange, bay, palm.
- Virgo (24 August to 23 September). Flower: small, brightly coloured flowers. Tree: nut trees.
- Libra (24 September to 23 October). Flower: all blue flowers; large, opulent roses; vines. Tree: ash.
- Scorpio (24 October to 22 November). Flower: all dark red flowers. Tree: bushy types, blackthorn, nut trees.
- Sagittarius (23 November to 21 December). Flower: pinks. Tree: lime, mulberry, ash, oak, birch.
- Capricorn (22 December to 21 January). Flower: pansy, hemlock, ivy. Tree: pine, willow, elm, poplar.
Nut trees feature with suspicious frequency. They are evidently the bankers, the horticultural equivalent of the ‘difficult truths’ and ‘turning points’ that you find in mainstream astrological copy. If you throw in enough turning points and nut trees, by the law of averages someone, somewhere is bound to say: ‘How strange . . . how true.’
Although we have no choice in the matter of our birth, a horticultural horoscope would at least help gardeners to choose the tasks most suited to them. Leos, for instance, are likely to be dangerous with secateurs in their hands. They should not be let loose on pruning. Bribe a Virgoan to train and tie in your wall shrubs.
Aries – March 21-April 20
Symbol: The Ram
Ruling Planet: Mars
Flower: Geraniums and Honeysuckle
Tree: Thorn bearing trees such as hawthorns and Honey Locusts
Plants to avoid: Slow growing plants and trees, such as conifers and Japanese maples. Soft foliaged plants that may be torn or burned by your passion
Garden quirks: The best time of day for an Aries to garden is with the rising sun
As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries love new beginnings, and are always thinking of areas to add to the garden or plants to experiment with. Energetic, dramatic and passionate, the garden of an Aries is big and bold, with well organised flower beds or pots mass planted with flowering plants in vibrant colours of red, orange and yellow.
They are drawn to bulbs like lilies, gladioli, dahlias and daffodils which welcome the new season with their bright, colourful blooms, or flowers like four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) which open with sunrise each day. Aries can be short-tempered and impatient, with whole garden beds often uprooted and replaced overnight.
Because of this, they should plant annuals or fast-growing shrubs like roses and honeysuckle – slow growing trees and shrubs will reveal how impatient and explosive an Aries can be!
Ariens are good at getting round obstacles, and are extremely energetic. Call one in when you want to demolish a rotting greenhouse or circumvent a drain. They also like quick results, which makes them impatient gardeners. They will be more likely to choose a quick-growing shrub such as mallow rather than a slow-growing but far more beautiful one such as daphne.
Taurus – April 21-May 20
Symbol: The Bull
Ruling Planet: Venus
Plants to avoid: Ugly plants, spindly plants, weeds
Garden quirks: Taureans are the most likely to grow an erotic garden
Taureans make ideal gardeners because they are tenacious enough to stick at the grimmest of jobs: clearing stones from a newly dug bed, raking leaves. The Taurean’s worst fault is stubborness. They do not accept advice easily. Home life is important to them, and that includes the garden. Taureans do not believe in short cuts, the downfall of more flamboyant Leos. They always read the instructions on the back of weedkiller packs.
Ruled by the Goddess Aphrodite, Taureans are earthy beings deeply in touch with their surroundings and obsessed by the pursuit of beauty. Due to their sensual natures, Taurean gardens are places of pleasure and delight, with touch, smell and taste integral elements.
Soft, textured plants like lambs ear (Stachys byzantine) and hostas, fragrant shrubs like daphne and star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), and delicious fruits ready to be plucked and eaten from the stem such as figs, apples and pomegranates should be grown in every Taurean garden. Taureans can be vain and self-indulgent – make sure you have very few reflective surfaces like water or mirrors in the garden, in case they get lost staring into their own reflections forever!
Gemini – May 21- June 20
Symbol: The Twins
Ruling Planet: Mercury
Tree: Nut trees
Plants to avoid: Any temperamental or high maintenance plant
Garden quirks: Gemini are clever, bookish people – why not bring the library into the garden to create a space perfect for intellectual stimulation?
Gemini are curious, youthful and clever beings, much more at home in a university or library than in a garden. This isn’t to say they are bad gardeners – but that a Gemini’s garden should be designed with the intent of bringing people together for intellectual stimulation, such as garden club meetings and book clubs. Due to their frustrations with routine, Gemini can struggle with houseplants (a.k.a. Gemini = Maidenhair fern murderers) or any plant that requires regular and ongoing maintenance (think roses, clipped shrubs or peonies).
Stimulate Gemini’s love for change by planting ornamental grasses, deciduous trees and winter flowering shrubs like witch hazels to create movement and excitement within the garden, flowering annuals to attract humming bees and birds. Tough indoor plant species in a range of shapes of sizes can be grown in the house of a Gemini, but be sure to move these around regularly to maintain their interest. Perhaps also employ a house plant waterer if you wish to avoid mass plant death.
Geminis love variety and change, and are likely to move house more frequently than those born under other signs. Their gardens will be full of annuals and bedding plants. They will go in for pots rather than permanent plantings. Because gardening will be only one of several interests, the garden will never quite get the attention it deserves; but Geminis are good at pretending to know more than they do. They are archetypal buyers of gadgets.
Cancer – June 21- July 21
Symbol: The Crab
Ruling Planet: The Moon
Tree: Any tree rich in sap
Scent: Night blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)
Plants to avoid: Cacti
Garden quirks: Natural nurturers, Cancer’s have a knack for growing complex plant species with hyper sensitive needs. Think orchids
Highly emotional, sensitive and intuitive beings, Cancers require a garden of solitude and escape from the outside world. Imaginative and creative, Cancer’s gardens should include long winding paths lined by flowering shrubs, hidden nooks and corners, bodies of water and large drooping tree canopies with green understoreys or ferns and woodland plants to hide among.
With the moon as their ruling planet, Cancers prefer grey, silver and purple flowering plants such as artemesia, teucrium and lavender, night flowering plants such as brugmansia and members of the nightshade family. Cancers can become overly sentimental and nostalgic among their gardens, wallowing in self-pity rather than getting outside to interact with people.
Cancerians like looking after things, but they sometimes make a simple nurturing job much more complex than need be. They are likely to specialise in difficult alpine plants, and to invent complex life-support systems for house plants when they go away for a weekend. They will enjoy raising cuttings and seeds, particularly the type that take more than a year to germinate.
Leo – July 22-August 21
Symbol: The Lion
Ruling Planet: The Sun
Tree: Bay laurel
Plants to avoid: Soft foliaged plants that may be torn or damaged by Leo’s big personality
Garden quirks: With their competitive natures and loud personalities, Leo’s make ideal flower show growers. Leo’s probably shouldn’t be left with secateurs in the garden for long periods of time
Loud, passionate Leos love being the centre of attention and their wild, colourful gardens should reflect this too. Favouring bright and bold colours of yellow, orange and gold that mimic their warm-hearted nature, Leos prefer growing sunflowers, dahlias, spiky aloes, zygocactus and rhipsalis which imitate their flowing manes. Highly creative, Leo gardens are places of artistic stimulation, with big dramatic sculptures, sun dials and spaces for creating with friends.
Fire should be at the heart of any Leo garden, with a fire pit, pizza oven or barbecue stimulating their animated personalities. Like fire, Leos should remember they can burn out too quickly, exhausting themselves from social interaction or offending visitors with their loudness. Luckily, their garden is always there to provide space for recharging whenever they need a time out.
Leos like working towards some specific goal and, since they also enjoy being in the limelight, they are happier seeing their flowers on the show bench than in the garden. Outrageous flowers, such as gladioli and dahlias, chrysanthemums and begonias, will be much more their thing than tasteful euphorbias and hellebores. And they like giving things away, so they can be useful friends.
Virgo – August 22-September 21
Symbol: The Virgin
Ruling Planet: Mercury
Flower: Forget-me-nots (Myosotis)
Tree: Nut trees
Scent: Lemon verbena
Plants to avoid: Cacti, plants that don’t enjoy being pruned, climbing plants, rhipsalis
Garden quirks: With their careful plant management, Virgos make exceptionally good vegetable gardeners
Careful, meticulous Virgos are extremely well-organised perfectionists, and their carefully tended gardens often reflect this. Favouring a tight, conservative style, the green space of a Virgo might include clipped buxus balls and yew shapes in pots, iceberg roses and espaliered trees. Highly detail-oriented, the garden of a Virgo is seemingly perfect to any visitor, without a single sign of a weed or insect infestation.
The overly critical Virgo however will constantly see faults, obsessively labouring over every plant in the garden, not welcoming any assistance from others. Due to their methodical nature, and being highly attuned to the needs and wants of each individual plant, Virgos are great plant collectors, succulent growers and terrarium gardeners.
Virgoans are good planners and organisers, but fret if things are not going as they should, which happens more often than not in gardening. They are best left to work on their own for they can be hypercritical, often unfairly, of other people’s efforts in their patch. They are not afraid of hard work: set them to shift railway sleepers, or to turn your compost heap.
Libra – September 22-October 21
Symbol: The Scales
Ruling Planet: Venus
Plants to avoid: Spikey plants like berberis, hawthorn and japonica
Garden quirks: Ruled by the Goddess of love and beauty, Libra’s have a secret love for all things opulent and lavish. Add a marble bust or pot to the back corner of your garden space to make a Libra’s heart sing
Symbolised by the Scales, gentle, caring Libras are passionate about justice and equality which is reflected in their well-balanced and graceful gardens. Driven by a desire for harmony, the green spaces of Libras are often influenced by the symmetry and formality of French parterre gardens.
At the same time, Libra’s also enjoy experimenting with less-popular plants and weeds, and they have a unique talent for making every garden space look lush and beautiful. Like other Air signs, it is important for the gardens of Libras to be designed around creating space for people to sit and discuss important topics. Though they are praised for their fairness, Libras are ruled by the Goddess Aphrodite, and must be wary of falling into the trap of vanity and hedonism.
There should be a Libran on the committee of every gardening club, for they are diplomatic, love harmony and are brilliant mediators. Compromise can lead to indecision, though, in the matter of their own gardens. A white rose or a yellow one to climb round the porch? Pinks or pansies in the front border? When they have decided, the result will be enviable. Librans get their gardens into all the best books.
Scorpio – October 22-November 21
Symbol: The Scorpion
Ruling Planet: Pluto
Flower: Dark red flowers
Scent: Black orchid
Colour: Dark grey
Plants to avoid: Granny plants, pink flowering plants, soft foliaged plants that might be punctured by the Scorpio’s razor sharp tail
Garden quirks: Watch out for large dogs in the garden of a Scorpio – you should only enter if you have been specifically invited in!
With their tough outer shell and solitary natures, Scorpios can be some of the hardest people to get to know. This can often be reflected by their high-walled gardens that create privacy for Scorpio’s but keep the drama and excitement of the world outside. Highly resourceful and self-sufficient, the gardens of Scorpios can be grown almost entirely from propagation.
The plant palette might include spiky shrubs like grevilleas, acacias, hawthorns, cacti and flowering quince, that keep people from entering within, whilst still allowing birds and small animal life inside. Composting, worm farms and graveyards are usually found within these gardens, as Scorpio’s are fascinated by death, decay and the cycle of rebirth. Despite their tough outer shell, Scorpios are fiercely loyal and protective of their family and friends. If you are invited within the garden of a Scorpio, its protection from the outside will look after you also.
Scorpios have beady eyes for their own and everyone else’s business. They will be able to give you a run-down on the cheapest source of supply for anything from compost to petunias. Unfortunately, the periscope head that looms over the garden fence when you least want to talk is also apt to be a Scorpio’s. In conversation, avoid contentious issues such as peat and pesticides.
Sagittarius – November 22-December 21
Symbol: The Archer
Ruling Planet: Jupiter
Scent: Orange blossom
Plants to avoid: Conventional plants, buxus, hydrangeas, spathiphyllums
Garden quirks: Sagittarius are always thinking about the next great adventure. Their houses should include big windows to gaze out across the garden to the horizon and beyond
People born beneath the constellation of Sagittarius have a passion for travel and adventure, which is echoed within the exotic plants and shrubs growing within their gardens. Sagittarius gardens are places of excitement and intrigue, with paths leading to areas that showcase plants of diffent colour, texture and gardening styles.
Extroverted and enthusiastic, Sagittarius gardens might include strange and unusual plants collected during their travels which exhibit exciting behaviours, such as carnivorous plants, titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), stinking corpse lily (Rafflesia arnoldii), nerve plant (Fittonia albivenis) and lithops. Impatience and tactlessness are negative traits of a Sagittarius, so a big friendly dog to win back the favour of visitors is important in their gardens.
Sagittarians are blunt. At worst, this can be hurtful. At best, it can open your eyes to some of the more pretentious aspects of gardening. Is your treillage trompe l’oeil really necessary? Was it, after all, a good idea to make a border of green-flowered plants? However Sagittarians do not sulk and they are forgiving; but they seldom learn from the mistakes they have made. They murder more rhododendrons than any other group of gardeners.
Capricorn – December 22-January 20
Symbol: The Goat
Ruling Planet: Saturn
Tree: Cherry blossom
Plants to avoid: Unruly shrubs, weeds
Garden quirks: Capricorns are known to play classical music and sing to their plants
Economical is the polite way to describe Capricorn gardeners. They are the ones who save their own seeds, wrapped in screws of paper in old Ovaltine tins. Capricorn people are practical and will work hard to achieve results. This asset should not be underestimated. They Their self-discipline extends even to hideous chores, such as scrubbing down the greenhouse glass.
The garden space of hard working and disciplined Capricorns should reflect reflect their strong self-control and eye for detail. Exceptionally skillful with a pair of secateurs, Capricorns favour Japanese Zen gardening, bonsai and topiary, and can often be found outside pruning their plants after a stressful day of work. Running water and a stone bench to sit upon within their garden space will provide another outlet for Capricorns to unpack their often overly full minds.
Capricorns are very thrifty gardeners, and are known for their skill in collecting seed and raising plants from cuttings. Beneath their very serious exteriors, Capricorns have a very playful side, although they often forget to show it. Don’t be surprised if you turn a corner within their tamed, ordered gardens to find a pornographic image splayed across a wall!
Aquarius – January 21-February 19
Symbol: The Water Carrier
Ruling Planet: Uranus
Plants to avoid: Roses
Garden quirks: Aquarians are the most likely to be featured in a weird plant collectors magazine
Eccentric and energetic, Aquarians love collecting strange and unusual plants, and showing these off to visiting humanitarian groups or at parties with their friends. This love for weirdness extends to the vegetable patch where Aquarians are known for growing experimental foods outside of their usual palettes, such as black radish, fiddleheads and dulse.
Because of their love for meeting new people and sharing knowledge, Aquarians often work in community gardens where they trade seeds, cuttings and stories of the latest political upheaval with new friends. Despite their confident air, Aquarians hate being alone with themselves. They should always have water and flowering plants in their gardens to attract birds and starve off loneliness.
Tolerance is the Aquarian’s strong suit, and it is a good trait in a gardener; but it is also the sign of a dreamer. There is a danger that in their own gardens, Aquarians’ dreams will never be translated into reality. By concentrating on designing gardens for other people, they can get round this problem neatly. Aquarians’ ideas are likely to be futuristic: pergolas of spun steel, water gardens of Perspex, laser light shows among the lilies.
Pisces – February 20-March 20
Symbol: The Fish
Ruling Planet: Neptune
Flower: Water lily
Scent: Lily of the Valley
Plants to avoid: Spiky plants, plants that require a lot of maintenance
Garden quirks: Pisces are natural gardeners but be sure to check on them regularly, they may be so visually engaged with their plant spaces that they forget to come inside!
Compassionate and gentle Pisces are highly sensitive and imaginative beings, which is reflected in their rambling, misty gardens. Like all water signs, Pisces long for privacy and solitude, and their woodland gardens offer hidden nooks and benches for quiet contemplation.
Ruled by Neptune, a water feature or a koi pond is essential to the garden of a Pisces, as it will restore their feelings of hopelessness after a difficult day. Soft and feminine, the Pisces garden should feature rambling, flowering shrubs, twisting paths and wild flowers sprouting between the pavers. As Pisces are natural dreamers and romantics, medicinal and hallucinogenic plants can be added to the garden border to increase their creative capacity.
Pisceans are apt to be lazy and to take the line of least resistance. They will welcome the vogue for wild-flower gardens and the notion of letting the garden take care of itself. This is fine, as long as its their own garden and not their employer’s. Pisceans are intuitive. They will recognise that a plant is in difficulties before it is past saving. They are also naturally co-operative: good people to have in communal gardens.