English gardens offer a transitional landscape design option for gardeners who are torn between the formal geometry of a symmetrical garden and the lush, irrepressible exuberance of a landscape gone wild. In an English garden, you can have all of the above, at the ratio that is most pleasing to your eye.
English gardens as we know them got their start back in the early to mid-18th century, and were a very formal affair. Because their roots stretched back to Roman antiquity, these original gardens were heavy on symmetry, geometrical patterns, and classical architectural and sculptural elements. However, as time has marched on, they have also come to incorporate planters burgeoning with colorful ornamental plants, pathways that can be winding or straight, and large areas for contemplation or play.
The following are some of the elements of a typical English garden design:
- Shapes. While it is true that an English garden can have flower beds planted in riotous combinations, those beds are usually bordered by neatly shaped hedges and borders with clear geometrical shapes. Living plant borders are used to create “rooms” as well as visual pathways, guiding the eye to key focal points.
- Flowers. The basis of your garden will be perennials that you can count on to return year after year. Typical examples include Phlox, Bee Balm, Lupine, Hibiscus and Hydrangea. These will be accented with annuals that you can vary from season to season. These include flowers such as Marigolds, Pansies and Cosmos. Also, don’t forget rich, lush greenery.
- Roses. Most English gardeners are very proud of their roses, even entering them in local and regional contests. Wild English climbing roses are as popular as prim and precisely pruned rose trees.
- Herbs and vegetables. A proper English garden will also include a kitchen garden of some sort, grown to supply herbs and vegetables close at hand.
For more information about English garden landscape design, we recommend reading The Early English Kitchen Garden, written by our own Mary Palmer Dargan. You can also contact Dargan Landscape Architects directly to discuss how we can help design an English garden, master plan or a tune-up for your property.
L. Kim says
This was a delightful read! I’d love to chat more about specific splants to incorporate.