The influence of an English garden

Phantom Screens / May 1, 2015

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The British really know a thing or two about gardening. With a gardening heritage going back hundreds of years, there’s something for everyone to incorporate into their own backyard. It doesn’t have to be a formal garden with lots of hedges and standard tea roses though – there are lots of different influences and you can easily incorporate them into your backyard.

Planting in drifts

Planting in drifts was made popular in the 1900’s by the woman known as the “queen of English planting”, Gertrude Jekyll. At the height of the “Arts and Crafts Movement” she created a style of planting where she used soft, intertwined “drifts” of plants in beds and borders. There were no harsh edges or straight lines and it was a very natural and painterly style of planting.

You can incorporate this style of planting into your backyard by creating a planting plan where you rough out where you’d like the drifts to be and what colors to use. There’s plenty of inspiration on the Design Sponge blog here.

A formal garden

Another archetypal style of English garden is a formal garden. Characterized by hedges, straight lines, geometry and symmetry the formal garden captures the regimented and ordered way of life that was so much part of English history. It’s a very balanced style of garden that suits a regular shaped plot.

If you’d like to create an English formal garden you’ll need to consider things like hard landscaping with straight paths and neat edges. To keep the garden looking smart, you’ll need to keep up to date on things like pruning, hedge trimming and grass cutting. A formal English garden though will bring you a lot of pleasure if you enjoy symmetry, neatness and a sense of order. Find design ideas at:

Cottage gardens

This is the wonderful, relaxed style of planting with a big mix of colors, flowers and plants. It works well in the more temperate northern climates as the hot areas of the south are too harsh on English-style plants.

To create a cottage garden you want to soften the architecture of your home and property by having climbing plants and rambling roses. An archway covered in foliage is another classic look for a cottage garden and will add a fragrant touch when visitors arrive at your home.

As for color – it’s a free-for-all mix. Choose herbaceous plants which are a combination of annuals and perennials and then play to your heart’s content. There aren’t any fixed rules, but here are some hints and tips from Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

A courtyard hideaway

Because England is a small island, there’s a limited amount of space available and therefore land is at a premium and houses tend to be smaller. Along with that people’s gardens are also smaller and in some inner city and urban locations there’s a popular trend for a courtyard garden. It’s a paved space with small beds for plants and flowers and planters and pots. A simple table and chairs, and a water feature might also be included.

If you’d like a secret hideaway for reading a book or having a quiet cup of tea (it is an English garden, after all) then plan a little courtyard in your backyard. It’ll be a little haven away from your busy life! Pinterest has some great pictures of courtyards to get you fired up and ready to go!

Don’t be afraid of hard work

But including an English garden into your backyard can be hard work. To quote a poem “The Glory of the Garden” by author of “The Jungle Book”, Rudyard Kipling: “such gardens are not made, by singing “Oh, how beautiful” and sitting in the shade”. So if you’re prepared for a little bit of hard work – then having an English garden might well be the thing for you!