Super Mario Theme Garden
Here are the elements of a geeky old school video game garden!
This is a garden after all, so let's start with the plants! They would ideally have a tight and simple form, to help support the concept of being inside a cartoony video game.
The groundcover would be a simple bed of liriope, mondograss, or juniper. Save yourself a lot of unnecessary work by avoiding groundcovers that require any pruning.
Use tall columnar trees in the backdrop to both reinforce the simple cartoony look and to serve as a screen. You wouldn't want to ruin the illusion, and neighbors might get a little confused by your attempts to regain your childhood. If a therapist calls you up, this is perfectly normal for a theme gardener. Just hang up.
I highly recommend Chinese Hardy Banana, or Musella Lasiocarpa for it's large foliage but more importantly, for the big yellow 'star' of a inflorescence that appears on leafless stalks for as long as three months! You'd feel 'invincible' after seeing that bloom! (Corny joke!)
I chose bricks for the architectural elements for their charm, and durability, but mostly for their iconic use in the first level of Super Mario Bros. One of the most rewarding things to do in the world of Mario was busting open those brick boxes! It was great after-school stress relief. Painting the boxes orange or red with question marks would be essential to creating a convincing 'Mario' look. Just, um... don't try to bust them open, okay?
If you're going for a pixelated look, square concrete pavers seem to really fit the bill nicely! Setting the pavers throughout the low growing groundcover as a blocky meandering path is a fun way to add interest to an otherwise boring mass of green. If the garden is to be used by children or clumsy adults who like to play pretend, rubber pavers made of recycled tires would help prevent nicks and scratches.
DIY 1-Up Mushroom!
There are plenty of options for making your own power up garden ornaments, but this one is pretty affordable and could be made by reusing what might otherwise be thrown out. Though this demo used a flowerpot and a wastebasket, you could really use anything from buckets, to stacked tires or round pavers, and even stools! To make this project really fun, try adding wheels to the bottom of the shroom for hours of entertainment... for the kids, of course.
DIY Spinning Coins
This could be accomplished by simply outfitting a weather-vane with a gold painted disk, and the goal is to have the coins at eye level. If you don't have a weather-vane, sink a capped off pvc pipe into the ground, or attach to a wall. Then paint a disk shaped object gold (frisbee, plastic plate, vinyl record, wooden disk, etc.) and affix to a rod or dowel that's a few feet taller than the sunken pvc pipe. Insert the outfitted rod into the pipe, and watch as the breeze sends your coin spinning!
DIY Chompy Plant
This is only one way to accomplish the 'carnivorous plant in the pipe' bit, and it could even be done on a smaller scale by using pvc pipes to make a little tabletop centerpiece full of venus flytrap plants! Another neat trick would be to plant pitcher plants inside the big pipe so that when a visitor gazes inside, she'll be greeted by a battalion of hungry pitcher plants!
Disclaimer: The intent of this article is to serve as ridiculously outlandish inspiration, and I have not done this myself. Use common sense. Don't throw hammers at each other, bash your heads into bricks, or eat questionable mushrooms. Also, touching the star shaped inflorescence of the Musella Lasiocarpa will NOT make you invincible, so don't get carried away. Anyways, if you have the resources or determination to use some of these ideas, have fun and share your results! The sky is the limit!