Russian Gardens

Do you have a garden with plants and flowers?  Or is your outdoor area paved and concreted?

Or maybe you live in a flat and don’t have a garden at all.  Maybe you have a balcony garden, or only indoor plants, like I have.

indoor plants
My indoor plants – the only garden I have

One thing (of many!) I love about living in Russia is that there are some very old-fashioned traditions that are still sometimes observed.  We looked at some old-style clothes drying techniques in this post

Today I’m going to show you some of the rather delightful, old-school, and simply cute, gardens, garden beds and planters that I’ve seen while living here. And while a lot of the photos here show only snow or weeds in the garden, let me assure you that come spring, they are filled with colourful flowers!

toys in a tyre
Toys in a tyre garden


Moscow is a very old city, although recently it’s been through a process of ‘modernisation’, especially in the centre.  And, while that’s meant out with the old, in with the new for a lot of things, it seems that some old-fashioned planters are still standing.

old planter

Let’s look at some of them.  They appear to be made of concrete.  They’re usually painted every year to freshen them up, although sometimes this doesn’t happen and they end up looking quite neglected.

unpainted planter
They can be quite unsightly if they’re not regularly painted
unpainted planters
These look like they haven’t been painted, or planted, for some years

Every spring the workers get to work and plant flowering plants in them.  And, despite the age of these planters and the bad paint job, I find them very colourful and quaint.  Even when they are painted, the paint jobs aren’t the best and they’re still not quite as ‘perfect’ as they could be! But they do add some charm to the neighbourhood.

Here are some colourful planters with colourful plants
pink planter
Another one, this time it’s pink

The following two planters aren’t in Moscow, they’re in a town called Nizhny Novgorod. They are really old and the design isn’t one that’s seen these days. However, as you can see, they’ve been neglected and now just have weeds growing in them.

shape planter
shape planter

Garden beds

Now let’s look at actual garden beds.  We all live in flats here, so we have a lot of buildings with garden beds around them.  Once again, every spring these garden beds are refreshed and planted with new life.  Most of the plants from the previous year have been destroyed by living under the snow for several months.

snow garden
Not much can survive a winter under the snow

And then, at the beginning of spring, the work begins.  Someone, often a woman and usually not so young, starts cleaning the ground and plants an array of different flowers in the garden bed.  She’s not paid for this, it’s not her job.  She does it because she likes gardening, and also because she wants the exterior of her building to be attractive.

local Russian garden
This one’s near our flat. We often see the woman working in the garden

And, not only flowers and plants find their way to these gardens.  We can see toys, plastic items (like jugs), artificial flowers (!), and, the very traditional garden decoration, car tyres.

Tyres in the garden

But they aren’t just old black car tyres.  They’ve often been painted and decorated to resemble animals or characters.  Here’s some we’ve seen around Moscow and other towns and cities in Russia.

tyre creature
A funny face in the garden
colourful border
Here the tyres are painted for the garden border

The planter below is made from a tyre, turned inside out, and cut to create this very interesting outer edge.

inside out tyre
Inside out tyre

And, how long has it been since you’ve seen an example of the classic ‘swan’ tyre garden decoration?

tyre swans
Beautiful swans in the garden

And more…

It’s always fun walking around Moscow, discovering new places, and new garden ideas!  Some others have been even more unique and surprising to see, like these ones.

garden with toys
This garden even has toys in it!
garden creatures
A little wooden ‘stool’ with creatures on it
Every garden needs a scarecrow

It’s hard to see, but the border of this garden bed below is made up of plastic bottles, painted white and put upside down to create a white edge to this garden.

plastic bottle garden
Plastic bottle border

The following garden is a bit of a mystery. Its shape and position doesn’t really make a lot of sense – maybe it’s some new abstract art garden?

abstract garden
A very strange location and design
triangle garden
We have triangle gardens – this one’s a bit old and neglected

The brick border

And finally, we have the traditional brick border. These are probably the most common kind of garden border here, but they still manage to create an arty touch with their choice of colours and designs.

I love these old fashioned gardens, they’re much more ‘fun’ than the sleek, modern planters and designers gardens that we can see around us these days.

And what about your garden?  Is it a bit wild, is it traditional, decorated with objects, or is it a modern or minimalistic style garden?  Tell me about your garden!

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

14 thoughts on “Russian Gardens”

  1. I’m always fascinated by how well gardens recover after a Winter of being covered in several inches of snow. You’d think the extreme cold would kill everything, but they just pop right up again year after year. Loved seeing all the quirky little garden plots that your Russian neighbours have created.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂


    1. Hi Leanne, yes, it’s amazing how resilient some plants are to sub-zero temperatures spanning several months! It’s lovely to see the gardens and trees coming back to life after a cold winter. It’s really something I love seeing in spring, I never get tired of stopping on my way to the metro or shops, and taking a look at the new growth on plants and trees. Of course, that means the beginning of hay-fever season which isn’t nice for sufferers. Thanks for taking a look at my quirky Russian gardens! Have a lovely end to the week. 🙂


  2. Hi Cheryl. You always come up with the most interesting posts, and this one is no exception! I love gardening, though as you know we are renting an apartment right now and my plants are limited to a couple of houseplants and my rose trees from Italy that I currently have on our balcony. I’m really hoping we are able to get this property we want in Chiatura, Georgia. It’s an apartment, but it comes with a small yard which I’d love to plant a garden in. I’m so glad I saw your post. I almost missed it. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi Christina, thank you for the compliments, I do appreciate them. Yes, we’re in the same boat, I think. Love gardening, don’t have a garden! House plants are lovely, but nothing beats getting down onto your knees and getting your hands dirty in the garden! I hope you get the property you’re after and can plant your dream garden. Are you thinking of flowers or vegetables? And do you travel with your plants??? Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂


    1. Hi Alice, that’s a great idea! My sister in Australia recently put an old wooden desk, turned upside down, and filled it with plants (she didn’t want to dig up the grass). It looks great and just like your pallets, wood is environmentally friendly! Thanks for reading and commenting, it’s nice to meet you. 🙂


  3. Love your tabletop plants! Lots of interesting gardens and planters! I liked the tires. Thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 16 for Gardening, open April 30 to May 10. All entries shared if social media buttons are installed.


    1. Hi Dee, yes, it was extremely interesting walking around Moscow and other Russian towns looking at their gardens! I like the tires as well, it’s nice to see the recycling of them in such a useful way. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂


    1. Hi Lydia, yes, it’s incredible how resilient some plants are! I love seeing the little green leaves poking up through the snow! I’ve recently watched our strawberry plants, after spending time completely covered in snow, start to grow new leaves and actually thriving! Nature is so wonderful! Thanks for reading my post and commenting, it’s nice to see you here.


  4. Lots of interesting garden spaces and decorations! It is nearly time for us to turn our thoughts to the outdoors and our gardens; I planted a few new plants in the fall and I’m anxious to see how they did over the winter.


    1. Hi Joanne, yes, it was incredibly interesting to walk around Moscow and other Russian towns and look at the gardens there! I’m starting to prepare for my new spring garden here in Bulgaria, I’m looking forward to the challenge! Thanks for stopping by and reading my post.


  5. I’ve been a few novel gardens around the coast using tyres and statues. Fortunately I see many more flowers and shrubs too.

    Thanks so much for linking up for Life This Week #231. Glad to have you add your post as part of the community here. Next week. the optional prompt is Good. Hope to see you there. Denyse.


    1. Hi Denyse, tyre gardens are so old fashioned. I love it when I see one, it gives me such a feeling of nostalgia! I’m starting to get excited about the growing season, it’s just at the beginning stages but after another few weeks when we’re past all the dangers of frost, I’ll be able to get working on my own garden! Have a great weekend, Denyse!


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