English Garden Design

 

The hallmark of the English garden is the manicured landscape park that presents an idealized view of nature. Landscaping that looks natural, yet better. Think of English garden design as “Nature, improved.”
 

In the words of Charlotte Hodgman, editor of BBC History Magazine, “The landscape garden is one of England’s greatest artistic achievements.”  By the end of the 18th century, English garden design was catching on in France and Russia, too, in Pavlovsk Park.

English landscaping also had a major influence on the form of the public parks and botanical gardens which appeared around the world in the 19th century. And manicured golf courses around the world owe a lot to English landscaping.

 

The gardens at Stourhead in Wiltshire, England, were designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.

The gardens at Stourhead in Wiltshire, England, were designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. The gardens were inspired by the landscape paintings of Claude Lorrain and Gaspard Poussin. The temple of Apollo was built in 1765. CREDIT: Lechona

Key elements of English garden design:

 

Border – The English pioneered the herbaceous border in the 19th century, mixing perennials of various heights, textures, colours and blooming periods into a nice composition.

 

Collecting – Plant collecting was a hobby for many English gardeners, especially during the 19th century. The plants collected ranged from the exotic to the mundane, from orchids kept in greenhouses to tulips.

 

Cottage garden – A lush and romantic garden that maximizes use of space by having flowers, vegetables, shrubs and perennials all grow together.

 

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, in Warwickshire, England, also known as the residence of William Shakespeare. The 12-room, Tudor-style house is surrounded by a cottage garden where vegetables, herbs, and flowers are all grown together.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, in Warwickshire, England, also known as the residence of William Shakespeare. The 12-room, Tudor-style house is surrounded by a cottage garden where vegetables, herbs, and flowers are all grown together.

Garden gnomes became popular in England, but they originated in Germany.

Garden gnomes became popular in England, but they originated in Germany.

Follies – Follies are the ultimate garden ornament in landscaping. In the 18th century, the English nobility started including Roman, Chinese, Gothic, or Egyptian structures in their gardens. Some were small buildings;  others were only partially constructed to act as modern ruins. Not cheap to build, follies were named for the folly of the owner—as having way too much money!

 

Landscape park – Wild gardening, or improving the natural landscaping, is the very essence of English gardens. Rolling parkland, groves of trees, vast amounts of lawn, and a pond or stream were preferable to a more structured and contrived approach that the French were using. The English garden extols the virtues of naturalism, with a focus on an old tree or a special plant, newly discovered from Asia or the Americas. Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was the creator of the landscape park, some 300 years ago. The landscape park can be summed up as: Nature, improved.

 

Whimsy – Follies were not the only thing that the English enjoyed putting in their gardens. The eccentric English also included topiary cut in every imaginary shape (even Thomas the Tank Engine has his own hedge) miniature landscapes as if belonging to hobbits or fairies, and of course, garden gnomes which were introduced to England by Sir Charles Isham in 1847, after a trip to Germany.

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