English Garden DesignDiscover why English gardens still rule and get ideas for creating your own English-inspired landscape
The English garden is one of the most successful exports of all time, travelling around the globe, gathering fresh nuances along the way. Today we find it as inspiring as ever. Wherever you live and garden, you can take inspiration from the UK’s hottest designers and their finest gardens.
The creative tension between formal structure and rambunctious planting is at the core of the Arts-and-Crafts British garden style. Marked by walled gardens with giant topiary, England’s well-manicured historic estates display a peculiarly British mix of grandeur, wit, and slight dishevelment. Start with good bones (in the form of walls and hedges), add yew topiary for an instant sense of history, sprinkle in roses, ruins, formal allées and follies and you’ll be well on your way to creating a dreamy English country garden.
American gardens designed in the English style:Whether you’re looking for ideas to create an enticing cottage garden, or you prefer the stateliness of grand English manors, here are some examples of how American gardeners have translated the English style into their own gardens.
At Sea Cliff Gardens B&B in Port Angeles, WA, Bonnie Kuchler has tamed an English garden gone wild. Her property has all the traits of a charming cottage garden, including a rose garden, white picket fence and long mixed borders. The style of her garden is quite romantic with flowers in blues, purples and pinks that spill over the borders. Kuchler grows double peonies, the color of raspberry-wine, elegant spires of pink foxglove, sapphire delphiniums, chartreuse mounds of lady’s mantle and much more.
A glorious rose garden now grows in what used to be a parking lot in Upstate New York. English inspirations include fragrant flowers that bloom between ribbons of boxwood, brick walkways and classical fountains. Kevin Lee Jacobs, the garden’s owner calls it a paradise of fragrance and color.
Another garden in Upstate New York, Duck Hill is a fine example of how elements of the English gardening style can be incorporated anywhere. Featuring a series of paths that serve as an invitation to explore, Duck Hill is a sequence of courtyards and garden rooms skillfully woven together. Crabapple trees surrounded by boxwood squares offer structure and seasonal interest, while a rose arbor and plants that spill onto garden paths add the charm you’d expect to find in an English country garden.
This home in Somerset, Maryland was facing an identity crisis. Landscape architect Douglas Miller helped enhance its cottage-like feel and created a garden to match. Key features include window baskets with plantings that are changed with the season, stone walls, and a series of garden rooms. Like many of the best English designs, evergreens serve as the backbone of this garden with perennials mixed in for bursts of color and texture.
TOP 10 ENGLISH GARDEN PLANTS
Almost any type of plant will work in an English garden. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Roses - English roses, shrub roses and climbers are the perfect types for adding charm to your garden
- English lavender - an herb that provides sweeping drifts of color and is ideal for creating informal hedges
- Pinks - cheerful flowers with cottage-style appeal, good for borders, containers and more
- Hollyhock - old-fashioned flowers that bloom mid-summer with numerous flowers on tall spikes
- Peony - classic, long-lived perennial bushes with big, fluffy, fragrant flowers in many colors
- Phlox - showy, long-blooming perennials that carry the garden through the heat of summer
- Hydrangea - popular shrubs with colorful flowers that bloom through summer and into fall
- Boxwood - easy-care evergreen shrubs that provide structure to formal and informal gardens
- Sweet peas - delicate, fragrant annual flowers that climb nicely up supports
- Clematis - flowering vines that bring long-lasting color to the garden
Be sure to check that the plants you select will grow well in your region.
ELEMENTS OF AN ENGLISH GARDEN
Include some of the following to enhance your garden's English style:
- Picket fence
- Garden gates
- Tool shed
- Stone walls