In school, I had joined a colloquium that is planning on creating a Japanese Zen Garden on the school grounds. But before starting with the physical work, we spent the last half of the school year learning all about Zen and Japanese gardens. At one point, we visited the Japanese garden at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. On this trip, we really thought about what plants to have that would be able to withstand the winter while also comparing it to other kinds of gardens and plants.
(Make sure to hold your breath now!)