Cottage gardens

6 Types of Gardens That You Can Plan For

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Cottage gardens

Cottage gardens

These gardens look back nostalgically to the image of a country cottage surrounded by flowers, although the originals were hard work to maintain. They need time to develop for best effect and planting has to make the best use of space, combining all sorts of flowers and often vegetables.

Such gardens look particularly attractive at the front of houses where you can have a path leading up to the front door, surrounded by a riot of color on both sides, with its edges softened by plants spilling over from the adjoining beds. Wooden fences and locally sourced materials work best if you decide to keep a patio next to the house.

Formal gardens

Formal gardens

Formal gardens are in many respects the opposite of cottage gardens. They use a limited range of plants, each precisely placed and have a high proportion of hard landscaping, a strong emphasis on symmetry and simple geometrical shapes, and a rigid overall plan. Traditionally associated with large, expensive palaces, the style is actually very adaptable and you can take elements of formal gardens and use them successfully on even the smallest plot.

The design can be based on geometric shapes with clear changes of height and direction, using clipped evergreens as ‘punctuation’, and water, contained in hard-edged formal shapes, to provide reflection and possibly movement and sound.

Jungle and tropical gardens

Jungle and tropical gardens

One of the best reasons for making a garden is to feel, on entering it, that you are transported somewhere entirely different, away from all the bustle of work and the world outside. Exotic and jungle gardens achieve this with an overload to the senses and imagination. Until recently, such collections of plants tended to be kept in public gardens or expensive conservatories since they were expensive to buy and generally could not survive a cold English winter.

However, changing climate conditions and a greater supply of cheaper suitable plants now make them far more suitable for ordinary gardens, although the plants are different from ordinary ones with large spectacular leaves or flowers.

Meadow gardens

Meadow gardens

One of the big trends of recent times has been a move away from formal borders to a more meadow-like approach with plants positioned naturalistically and used for their sculptural qualities. The idea of a meadow garden is simple -you need to create a piece of land that offers approximately the variety and profusion of wild flowers that would have been more commonplace in, say, the nineteenth century.

International gardens

International gardens

In this age of globalization, garden designs and philosophies from all over the world have become established, often successfully, in other countries. Oriental (and especially Japanese) gardens transfer particularly well to almost all climates, at least in part because of the limited plant content. They are full of symbolism, much of which is inevitably lost or misunderstood when the concept is exported. The famous remark of a Japanese Ambassador when asked to open a very expensive ‘Japanese’ garden in England was: ‘This is really very interesting indeed – we have nothing at all like it in Japan!’

The basic style is easy to recreate, however, achieving the main elements of simplicity, calm and order. Islamic gardens, often with central water features, have been copied throughout the world for over a thousand years and are particularly suited to courtyards, usually being designed around geometric patterns.

If temperatures continue to rise as expected, this sort of cool and peaceful garden is likely to become very popular. Likewise, Mediterranean gardening is more a climatic than a regional style, with features dictated by hot summers, low rainfall and mild winters. The bright blues, yellows, pinks and oranges used in Mediterranean regions look very good against brilliant sunshine.

Twentieth and twenty-first century designs

Throughout the twentieth century, gardening styles changed and many designers placed an increasing emphasis on hard landscaping and moved towards more minimalist planting schemes. Although plants remained important, they were now used in a different way. Rather than beds or borders filled with a multitude of plants, one or two specimen plants were used to create maximum impact.

The use of hard landscaping, especially metal and glass, is one of the key aspects of a modern garden and you can get excellent ideas for them at the large flower shows.

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