How to create the perfect English garden

November 28, 2016

Quaint English cottage gardens are the perfect embodiment of romance. With the soft colours, the picket fences and the plants falling over each other, an English garden can be a magical place to get lost in for hours.

You don’t need to be living in England to enjoy the full experience. In fact, the style has been adapted around the world for centuries. Here are some tips on creating the perfect English garden no matter where you live:

Clean slate

As with any large project, to begin with it is best to have a completely clean slate. You should schedule in a weekend or two to get the yard back to basics as a starting point. Hire a skip bin to throw everything out, and enjoy the convenience of it being picked up and hauled away for you. It will save you time and energy from having to dispose of it yourself. Don’t just get rid of unwanted weeds, take a look around at your existing pavers or any rocks or materials that you don’t think will match your new garden and throw that out as well.

A bit of romance

English gardens can have such a romantic feel as soon as you step foot in them. To set the romantic scene, opt for plants that have pastel coloured flowers instead of the bright ones. For example, lavender, soft pink roses and pale pink peonies. Their fragrance will also help set the romantic tone of the garden.

Embrace the crowds

Another signature move in an English cottage garden is over crowded plant beds. Dating back to the original English cottages that were owned by labourers with no time for gardening, it was normal to have plant beds that were full of essentials like herbs, fruit and vegetables. Once the cottages started being favoured by people who were a bit more well-off, the owners began to add flowering plants to the mix. These days, it’s quite the norm to have a plant bed near the front of the house that is full of herbs, vegetables and pretty flowers.

Make sure you care for the soil so it can help make this mixture flourish, as the desired effect will be somewhat ruined if half of the plants are wilting instead of thriving.

The picket fence

No rambling English garden is complete without the quintessential white picket fence. These days, anything goes, so if you aren’t a big fan of white you can easily get away with another colour. Try one in earthier tones or even a light grey. Add some climbing plants along the inside of the fence, such as clematis or wisteria and sit back while it does it’s thing. Each year you will have a different look as the plants continue to grow along their own path.

A curved pathway

Quite opposite to the grand English gardens that are based on symmetry, a cottage garden looks better with curves. Have a pathway from your fence to your front door, but don’t make it a straight walk. If space permits, wind the path so you have to walk through the flourishing colours and smells of your garden before you reach the front door. It lends the feeling that you are inviting people to stop and stay a while, to explore. A direct route to the front door has the opposite effect.

The feature

To contrast against the picket fence and the pastel coloured flowers, place a stone feature somewhere within the garden. This can be in the form of a bird bath, a stone finial or perhaps even a stone bench if you have the space. You don’t have to choose just one item, you can use them all!

The formal English garden

If you wish to recreate a more formal English garden, the type you would have found surrounding castles back in the day, the ideas are quite different.

Symmetry is key, with pathways having sharper edges than those of the English cottage. But the pathways themselves can be a feature and don’t have to lead anywhere. Simply add a square or diamond pathway right in the middle of the backyard, with neatly trimmed grass or clean pebbles surrounding it.

Hedges look great in English style gardens as well, especially when they are kept neat and tidy at all times. Add some topiary plants throughout the garden for the perfect finishing touch.

If you cannot decide between the more formal style garden or the English cottage garden, why not do both? If space permits, you can have a formal English gardens with the topiaries and the symmetrical paths, and hidden amongst it can be a small patch of English cottage garden. Place an archway with climbing plants full of pastel coloured flowers to mark the entrance, while the inside can have a love seat hidden amongst the fragrant plants.