Design an English garden

Beautiful flowers, meandering paths, manicured borders and arbors are all part of an English country garden.   Many kinds of trees, shrubs, and flowers--both  annuals and perennials--may be planted.

Paradise of exiles : the Anglo-American gardens of Florence
Katie Campbell.
London : Frances Lincoln, 2009.
In the final years of the nineteenth century the crumbling villas abandoned on the hills above Florence proved irresistible to an eccentric colony of English and American expatriates.After a brilliant introduction this entertaining book features some twenty of these characters, among them Bernard Berenson at I Tatti; the 'cad' Sir Arthur Acton and his fabulously wealthy wife at La Pietra; the bereaved philosopher Charles Strong whose Rockefeller in-laws financed his villa retreat; the cross-dressing English essayist Violet Paget - known to the world as Vernon Lee; the beautiful Serbian Princess Jeanne Ghika who lived in seclusion with her American companion Miss Blood; the eccentric English romance writer known as Ouida; the much-married American heiress Mabel Dodge Luhan and the misanthropic aristocrat Sir Gerge Sitwell.Art and history formed the main interests of the community with horticulture a close second. The Anglo-Florentines injected new life into Tuscany's decrepit gardens, touring the countryside for inspiration and trawling old libraries for treatises and manuals. Some preferred an anglicised version and smothered their walls with scented climbers, replaced gravel terraces with emerald lawns and stuffed box parterres with bright bedding plants and their orchards with exotic shrubs.Literary reference abounds throughout this book with Henry James leading the way, but it is the old guide books - Elgood's Italian Gardens, Latham's The Gardens of Italy and books like Georgina Graham's My Tuscan Villa which provide so much evocative material.
In the garden with Jane Austen
Kim Wilson.
Madison, WI : Jones Books, 2008.
Bringing Jane Austen's gardens--real and fictional--to life with excerpts from her novels and letters, period songs, poetry, and illustrations, this charming recollection offers tips for creating English gardens alongside Austen. This lavishly illustrated exploration with color photographs of gardens associated with the writer offers a rich experience to admirers of both Austen and gorgeous gardens. Complete with a reference section that includes important dates in Austen's life, locations and dates of her houses, and a map of 1809 England, this delightful book is perfect for the history and garden enthusiast alike.
The English garden : a social history
Charles Quest-Ritson.
Boston : David R. Godine, 2003.
  1. Originally published: U.K. : Viking, 2001.
  2. Includes bibliographical references (p. 259-267) and index.
The English garden through the 20th century
Jane Brown.
Woodbridge : Garden Art Press, 1999.
Jane Brown describes the range of influences upon gardens and their design from the heyday of Gertrude Jekyll one hundred years ago to the innovative ideas of Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.
What gardens mean
Stephanie Ross.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Are gardens works of art? What is involved in creating a garden? How are gardens experienced by those who stroll through them? In What Gardens Mean, Stephanie Ross draws on philosophy as well as the histories of art, gardens, culture, and ideas to explore the magical lure of gardens. Paying special attention to the amazing landscape gardens of eighteenth-century England, she situates gardening among the other fine arts, documenting the complex messages gardens can convey and tracing various connections between gardens and the art of painting. What Gardens Mean offers a distinctive blend of historical and contemporary material, ranging from extensive accounts of famous eighteenth-century gardens to incisive connections with present-day philosophical debates. And while Ross examines aesthetic writings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including Joseph Addison's Spectator essays on the pleasures of imagination, the book's opening chapter surveys more recent theories about the nature and boundaries of art. She also considers gardens on their own terms, following changes in garden style, analyzing the phenomenal experience of viewing or strolling through a garden, and challenging the claim that the art of gardening is now a dead one. Showing that an artistic lineage can be traced from gardens in the Age of Satire to current environmental installations, this book is a sophisticated account of the myriad pleasures that gardens offer and a testimony to their enduring sensory and cognitive appeal. Beautifully illustrated and elegantly written, What Gardens Mean will delight all those interested in the history of gardens and the aesthetic and philosophical issues that they invite. "Replete with provocative musings, Ross delineates links that should prove interesting to readers engaged in pondering our capacity to relate to the natural world through the gardens we create."--Booklist "[A]n innovative and absorbing study of the garden as an object of aesthetic interest."--Allen Carlson, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism "[P]leasantly readable. . . . A thought-provoking book for all who reflect as they dig."--Noel Kingsbury, Country Life "[A] refreshing view of the subject. . . . Ross's book is continually illuminating in unexpected ways."--Gillian Darley, Architects' Journal "What Gardens Mean is a wonderful intellectual combination of discussions on the interdisciplinary histories of art, gardening, and philosophy."--Choice
The English formal garden : five centuries of design
Gunter Mader, Laila Neubert-Mader ; [English language translation ... by Ingrid Taylor].
New York : Rizzoli, 1997.
Two of Europe's foremost garden historians demonstrate the features and structure of the traditional English formal garden. Photographs and drawings document ten full tours of such prominent sites as Parnham House, Hestercombe Garden, Sissinghurst Castle, and other gems of the British Isles. 150 color illus. 70 bandw drawings and plans.

The best English country gardens use the natural environment to ensure its success.  Consider contrasting heights, colors and composition as you design your English country garden.

There are thousands of flowering plants that are available to gardeners. They offer limitless opportunities for bringing colour and pattern to a landscape. Generally, old-fashioned country garden plants are characteristically planted profusely.  Climbing roses are always a favorite.

A kaleidoscope of colours frequently characterize an English country garden. Hues of purple may be attained by growing hydrangeas, delphiniums, lupines, and cornflowers. To ensure a long succession of color from the same patch of ground, interplant biennials with perennials.

Blooms of scarlet oriental poppies, old-fashioned pompom dahlias, or bushes of lavender all have their place. Candy pink geraniums, orange marigolds, and mauve and lilac canterbury bells all help to create a lovely flower arrangement.

English country garden flowers

Sweet Pea

Flower beds and borders need to have flowers chosen to suite the existing soil, light, and moisture conditions. Groups of plantings in a border are customarily designed with taller varieties of plants in the center amd with the shorter plants along the edge, so that each is visible and exposed to the sun. However, if a garden is planted against a wall or building, then the tallest plants are staged in the background.

Island flower beds are usually separated in an English cottage garden by grass paths. Maybe sun-loving purple loosestrife, sunflowers, and hundreds of day lilies are planted.

The English country garden will soon become home to many types of birds, insects and animals.  According to a well-known song, an English garden invites fireflies, bees, bobolinkks, cardinals, hares and frogs.

Whatever garden accents or plants you choose, their scale and varieties should suite your planting style and existing buildings. To transform an ordinary garden into an English country garden one needs patience and a love of gardening. 

An English garden has been described as being 'all about surprise'.  What surprises will you add?

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff