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There seems to be two schools of thought as to what exactly constitutes an English Garden. For some it is the pruned symmetry and aristocratic formality of Victoriana. Others tend towards the more eclectic rambling colour fields of a ‘cottage’ style garden. Defining the true character of an English garden may be as convoluted as that nation’s history.
Symmetry is the operative feature of these early sanctums. Brick and stone perimeter walls provided privacy while inside; arbors, fences and gates provided the framework for enclosed spaces or ‘rooms.’ Each of these zones had a unique character based on colour, shapes or other thematic devices that helped create secret places to read, meditate or just enjoy a summer’s day.
Climbing greenery, overflowing beds framed by perfectly manicured shrubbery contrast the natural with man-made.
The essence of an English garden design speaks volumes about the character, history and traditions of the English. The roots of garden design and botanical knowledge extends back via the Roman conquest to the library of Aristotle. This rich lineage has provided landscape designers and gardeners down the ages, with a slew of creative options for transforming open spaces into horticultural havens. Today there is an anything goes aspect to English garden design with contemporary landscaper’s cherry picking from all manner of era’s, styles and themes to create something truly unique.
For centuries, English gardens were the domains of the rich and the clergy. Most often highly architectural in design, walled sanctuaries mostly, ordered and controlled to keep nature at bay and the prevailing landscape out. Natural contours were leveled or terraced and trees and evergreen shrubs clipped or severely trained to make patterns and shapes that fit the overall design. Geometric shapes like ovals, circles, rectangles or squares were offset by centered walkways with sundials and fountain focal points.
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