Designing an English Garden
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated July 24, 2020)
Quick, when you hear the title Pride and Prejudice, what comes to mind? For many people, it is the beautiful landscaped vistas found at the Pemberley Estate, or even the wonderful little "wilderness" that Elizabeth Bennet and the Lady Katherine DeBurg had their wonderful showdown in. These are some of the best known examples of what an English garden can, and should, be. If you would like to have that kind of elegance around your home, then you need to know the basics of designing an English garden.
- Draw it out. As always, when you begin any type of designing project, one of the first things that you should do is draw out your plan. Create a quick little sketch of what you want your garden to look like. By doing this, you will be able to help yourself realize what will be required to actually create the look you are looking for. This is no different when designing an English garden, take the time to think about what you are wanting and draw it out as you do through the rest of these guidelines. Think about each element, and allow it to influence your final design.
- Formality. An English garden can often be seen as having inherent contradictions. While these types of gardens may, at first, appear to be fairly informal, there should also be a sense of formality to it as well. One way that you can look at this is that there should be a sense of rigid flexibility to the arrangement of your garden. One way to get an idea of what this mean is to watch some movies that are set in England, preferably sometime during the early 1800s.
- Lush. One thing that can help you create the "rigid flexibility" that are inherent in an English garden is to choose plants which will be extremely lush. In fact, you should have plants which will be so lush, that when you first look at the garden, it will look almost overgrown. Only upon closer examination should you be able to tell that the garden is supposed to look like this. An example of this is how the English used to call such gardens a "wilderness" back in the early 1800s.
- Layers. A great way to achieve the look of an English garden is to have a garden within a garden. This type of layering can allow you to have both a formal look, and an informal feel. Be sure that you have areas that will cater to both requirements, but are also in harmony with each other.
- Focal point. Every garden should have a focal point, and an English garden is no different. The easiest way to achieve this is through the use of stone paths and walkways. Keep in mind that these paths should not be the main point of interest though. Rather, they should be used to draw the eyes towards a fountain, tree, or some other eye-catching piece of landscaping.
- Go for the feel. A very important element in an English garden is the furniture and other materials that you use throughout the garden. When choosing the materials that you will be using, you want to choose things that will help evoke a feeling of England. Some of the materials that you can use are things like trellises, natural stone, wood, and wrought iron.