theme garden

Potting shed and wishing well in a drought-tolerant English garden.

One very popular style of gardening all over the world is the “English garden”. An English garden is simply a garden that is designed to look like it grows in the British Isles. The usual image is either of a somewhat wild, flower-filled cottage garden, or a carefully manicured formal estate garden. You can design an English garden along either of these lines. To get the effects you want, choose plants, materials and decor that not only follows the theme, but will do well in your own backyard climate. Immitate the effect you want but adapt it to the local environment for ease of maintenance.

For a cottage garden, plan an informal design.

Choose plants that mix mounding, sprawling and vertical growth habits and offer plenty of colorful flowers or foliage. Again, make sure these plants will do well in your own garden or you will have to continually replace dead or poor performers. Set plants closely so they form big garden bouquets rather than singly with space in between. When planting young plants, leave space for them to grow and fill in the surrounding area with annuals that will provide temporary fullness.

Add one or more of these features:

  • Meandering pathway
  • White picket fencing
  • Stacked stone walls
  • Rustic Bench
  • Stepping stones
  • Trellis
  • Cottage styled shed
english garden

Lush green of another English-styled landscape

Go more stately for a formal English design.

Ssketch out a design that is more controlled, with well defined edgings, neat lawns and optional symmetrical or geometrical layouts. Set plants neatly in groups of the same color or habit of growth so the effect is like painting larger swathes of color or neat outlines. Keep trees and shrubs properly pruned or clipped into shapes.

Add one or more of these features:

  • A formal gazebo
  • A knot or herb garden
  • Wrought iron or cement bench
  • A formal sculpture, fountain or topiary
  • Big classic pots or urns

Other things you can do in either kind of English garden is to construct a ‘garden within a garden’. Add a rose garden or an herb garden as a special area either enclosed by fencing, shrubs or delineated with an edging in a private part of your garden.

Surrounding gardens look good filled with typical English garden plants like these:

  • hollyhock
  • foxglove
  • hosta
  • columbine
  • rose
  • bellis daisy
  • viola
  • pans,
  • peony
  • johnny-jump-up
  • primrose
  • delphinium
  • wisteria

If you live where conditions are not ideal for these plants, look for locally happy plants that have similar looks. Most of the short-lived annual plants will grow in a wide range of climates since they will only last for the spring or summer seasons anyway. But make sure you give plants the soil, sun or shade that will allow them to thrive.

A good mix of permanent features (hardscape) and living plants (softscape) garnished with some English garden decor should turn your landscape into the kind of English garden you will enjoy using for yourself, your family and your friends.