The classic English garden has evolved over time and taken on many guises, from for formality of seventeenth-century styles, the sweeping parklands of Capability Brown to the wild natural look of the Arts and Crafts movement. But even with the popularity of today’s modern designs with their minimalist planting schemes, the simplicity and romance of the English country garden still typifies what we understand as the classic English garden. Bring together pretty fragrance flowers, culinary herbs, garden buildings and a peaceful place to sit and you have the ingredients you need.
The garden bench is a must for any true English garden. Carefully placed for sun or shade in a place that is peaceful and conducive to quiet reflection, the bench can take on many and varied designs to suit taste and compliment garden design. The classic Thakeham seat or Lutyens bench, originally designed by the furniture maker and architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1900 still graces many a classic English garden. But there are other beautiful designs to be had in wood, iron and stone. Garden ornaments also have an important place in the English garden, stone statues of shy maidens or classic characters placed in amongst herbaceous borders; sundials creating a focal point at the end of a pathway, and birdbaths creating a showcase for birdlife.
The classic English garden cannot be without a greenhouse. It was the Victorians and their love of new and exotic species of plants that popularised the greenhouse. Basic aluminium structures are cheapest but a wooden structure in the Victorian or Edwardian style adds romance to a south-facing part of the garden. However, you can’t get more romantic than the humble potting shed. Typically used for re-potting seedlings, it is a place to escape the trials and hustle of life, offering sanctuary to the true gardener.
Traditionally associated with the English cottage garden, lavender is a Mediterranean plant originally brought to this country by the Romans but has now become synonymous with English garden planting schemes. Another plant the English garden cannot be without is of course the rose. By the nineteenth century horticulturalists were breeding a wide variety of roses for their colour and fragrance. Climbing roses grace the walled garden, while scented shrub roses fill the borders with irresistible scent to fill the senses and ramblers climb high into the branches of a tree.
Herb gardens were a vital part of horticulture in the Middle Ages, where herbs were mainly used for medicinal purposes. Some herbs with stunning flowers moved over time into the ornamental garden, whereas others became part of the vegetable garden where their culinary uses became popular. Today, more romantic additions are added to the herb garden such as scented herbs and sweet peas, grown in garden planters with tall wigwam supports.