English gardens are truly a work of art with a long history. The prize of royalty and estate holders, their manicured garden estates had styles with elaborate walls and sculptures, even mazes. Today, English gardens grow on a smaller scale as backyard gardens full of vivid flowers and lush greens. They will have flowers in bloom all season long and tend to become more natural looking as the garden settles into the landscape. Many gardeners and visitors love the layers found within the English garden.
Getting ‘greener’ with the English garden
With the rising apparent need of a more sustainable use of the planet’s resources, even the traditional English garden can adapt to “green” principles, while keeping its beauty. Although English gardens are known for their high maintenance, they can be designed in a natural and sustainable way so each year the garden takes less and less maintenance. Using complementary planting techniques allow the plants to thrive amongst one another, giving and taking from it’s neighbours.
A commonality between all English gardens is that are to be used as much as viewed for enjoyment. So pathways or walkways along with benches will be available in an English garden, all made from local resources. No need to truck or fly in specialty materials when so much is available near the home.
Vines are a staple of the English garden as well as other perennial choices. For a more “sustainable” English garden choose vines that have multi-purpose, such as bearing fruit and shade for those that visit the garden.
Keeping a garden full of blossoms all season long just takes a little knowledge on what will flower and when. Spring is a beautiful time in the garden, with everything starting to grow and flowers beginning to appear making it so fresh and green.
Snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses will begin to appear as early as February and March if not in too cold a climate. Primroses and violets are next followed by gorgeous arrays of bluebells at the beginning of May.
Incorporate beautiful, multipurpose herbs and plants like rosemary, lavender, and sage into the garden. It will bode well by being manicured yearly, as well as bear leaves and flowers that can be used in cooking, handmade soaps and beauty products or tinctures.
By summer time the leaves and greens have filled out and become thick and hardy. The garden is less colourful but the different shades of green make up for it. In the summer you may see more roses, water lilies, honeysuckle, heather, nightshade and of course gorgeous butterflies and bees that will want to enjoy all the blossoms as well and spread the pollen throughout the whole small region, which keeps the plant habitat healthy and fertile.
In autumn most flowers begin to end their cycle but the berries and fruits will appear. Leaves begin to change to their fall colours which adds another dynamic colourfield to your landscape. You can pick blackberries, acorns, mushrooms, apples, pumpkins, anything goes as far as what type of edible plants you want in your garden. Although planting fruit trees among an English garden is not a tradition, incorporating a small, well landscaped orchard with a beautiful edible understory will certainly make your English garden more sustainable.
There are a few flowers that will bloom in the winter. Winter honeysuckle and jasmine add a touch of colour, plus can be used for making teas. Holly berries will get you in the mood for the Holiday season and them more snowdrops in late February to start the cycle over again.
There are so many combinations of wild flowers, garden flowers and flowering shrubs to learn about. Although some species may not be able to be grown in America, can help you get started if you want to mimic aspects from these beautiful gardens. Using the basic ideas of using local resources, edible landscaping combined with the aesthetic of English gardens can make a unique garden both pleasing to the eye and easy on the planet. -KATIE FLYNN