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Create a Survivor-Themed Garden

Want to jazz up your garden for a change of pace or a special party or gathering? Are you a fan of the reality television hit “Survivor”? Why not combine your love of gardening with your love of Tribal Councils and create a Survivor-themed outdoor space!

The beauty of the Survivor garden is that there have been so many locations for the popular show that you can choose which setting would best suit your garden space. If you have only hearty plants that grow in dry conditions, create a Survivor Africa theme. If you have lush greenery and the opportunity to include more tropical foliage, go for a beach location like Palau, Borneo, or the Pearl Islands. Have wide open spaces with lots of grass and trees? Great – you can create your own Survivor: The Australian Outback.

One of the most obvious themes in Survivor is the torch. Each contestant has a torch, and the fire represents their life in the game. Create this feeling by picking up Tiki torches at your local gardening/home decorating store, or even at the dollar store. Use the torches to line your walkway or entrance to your garden. If you’re throwing a party or having a barbeque, you can take the Survivor theme one step further by adding name tags to the torches, one for each guest.

To compliment the torch lighting, consider adding solar lights to the décor. They may not be authentic Survivor gear, but they will look gorgeous illuminating the foot path or the edges of your garden, especially in contrast to the dramatic torches glowing around them.

Now you’ll need your immunity necklace and/or idol. Immunity idols are generally statues of some sort - if all you can find is a ceramic frog, go with it! If you’re looking for authenticity, try a small wooden sculpture that looks like it would have symbolic meaning in a tribal setting. To display your idol, you’ll need a crude-looking platform. A tree stump is fine, or use a large rock or piece of wood and affix your statue to it. Just make sure that both your statue and your adhesive are waterproof, as they will undoubtedly be exposed to rain and the elements.

For an immunity necklace, you can craft one out of beads and seashells. Your goal is to make it look like something a chief would wear at a tribal ceremony. Once you’ve crafted your necklace, you’ll need to create a “cross” out of long sticks for your display. Hold two sticks together to form a cross, then secure them together by winding twine around them in every direction where they meet. Then push the bottom of the cross into the ground in your garden, and hang the necklace over the top so it rests on the horizontal stick.

No Survivor theme would be complete without a tribal flag. Here’s where your creativity really gets to shine! Pick up some fabric that is weather-resistant, and some fabric paint, and let your imagination run. Draw the basic Survivor logo shape, with “Survivor” written through the middle and “Outwit Outplay Outlast” around the edge. Then name your “tribe”. Use your family name, or come up with something unique, funny, cute, or just plain silly. Then paint in the rest with images that will compliment your garden, or stand out amongst the greenery. Hang your flag on a fence, flagpole, or attach it to a stick or a tree branch.

The actual plants that you have in your garden are secondary to the props of course, which is what makes this an easy theme to live with. Once you tire of the Survivor style, just remove your props and try something completely different. If you want to take things one step further, however, consider baby palm trees (if they will grow and thrive in your geographical location). They aren’t huge or cumbersome to move or plant, and they will add a definite distinctive touch to your Survivor garden. For a bit of tropical flair, pick up some coconuts at the grocery store and place them decoratively in your garden.

If you really want to take your Survivor theme to the extreme, and have enough room to do so, you can create a Tribal Council area, and a voting booth. This would be fun for a Survivor party, but perhaps not too practical for the average fan. For your Tribal Council area, set up seats for the jury (up to seven), and seats for the ‘players’ (up to nine). These seats should be either benches or something that looks natural, like slices from a thick log. There should also be something resembling a podium for the ‘host’ to stand at. In the very center, place a fire pit.

The voting booth should be several feet away from the Tribal Council area, and should include a small table, a black marker, and pieces of paper (parchment if you can find it). You’ll also need a large urn to place the votes in. Again, make sure that anything that isn’t waterproof is stored overnight or when you’re away so it doesn’t get damaged by rain.

Once your Survivor garden is set up, invite your friends over for a Survivor-style barbecue or party. Make some buffs out of bandanas and assign each person a tribe as they arrive. Just don’t serve them anything that could be considered part of a gross food challenge, and make sure they know that they won’t be voted out of the party!

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