Features of a traditional English garden

Since the times when large manor houses and British nobility conquered English literature, England has been known for more than just poor weather and cramped terraced houses. When you picture a large English house, it is usually attached to a grand traditional English garden. What do you think of first? Something from a Jane Austen adaptation usually meets people's expectations.

Or perhaps you remember reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when you were a child. The Secret Garden tells the story of an orphaned girl who takes home in Misselthwaite Manor in the Yorkshire Moors. After exploring the estate grounds, she discovers a secret garden that is locked and hidden away. Hodgson Burnett beautifully forms an allure to the garden encapsulated through a child's imagination. Film adaptations of this classic book bring a traditional English garden to life in all its glory. So, what exactly makes a space a traditional English garden? And how can you replicate the style in Wakefield?

Features of a traditional English garden design

Features of a traditional English garden

The traditional style of an English garden has evolved throughout a long history - elements can date back to as long ago as the Roman period. The overrunning theme is to be as symmetrical and neat as possible whilst hosting an array of British wildlife. Perfectly manicured hedges, gravel walkways that take you around the garden, and raised flower beds close to the property are all standard features.

A large beautiful garden has, and always will be, privileged to the people who are wealthy enough to own land. The appearance of one's home and self has always been judged harshly by society. For this reason, rich people designed extravagant gardens to boast about their money. Certain garden features were a statement of wealth, such as significant stone water features. These will often be positioned centrally to the garden so guests can promenade around the space in awe. The quality of stonework would also provide a good indication of how well kept someone's garden was.

The traditional flowers of choice for English gardens are perennials. Simply put, a perennial plant is a plant that lives longer than two years. Compared to shorter-lived annuals and biennials, perennial plants are preferential as they reemerge yearly. Some of the most popular perennial plants are Phlox, Hydrangea and Hibiscus. In some garden designs, you might also notice climbing plants such as Ivy, climbing Roses, and Clematis. As most older gardens feature natural stone walls, climbing flowers compliment the architecture perfectly.

Features of a traditional English garden

Why are people avoiding a traditional English garden design?

In the last few decades, most people have been moving away from a traditional English garden design and opting for a more modern and contemporary space. But why is this?

Firstly, before we look at how the garden design style is constantly evolving, we must first understand that architecture is too. Although a large portion of the population will seek out older-style buildings, such as cute countryside cottages, the majority (particularly younger people) are attracted to new-build modern properties. Most people will purchase a home first and then design a landscape that compliments their home. This process makes sense for numerous reasons, especially when we consider that a house, for the most part, costs significantly more than the garden attached. From this, we can establish that one of the reasons a traditional-style garden is going out of fashion is because architecture has evolved.

Another reason why homeowners may not consider a traditional style for their garden because they do not realise its potential. Most people associate a traditional English garden with a huge manor house in the countryside. So, they believe that their space is too small and not grand enough to suit a traditional design. However, this style does not need to make a smaller garden look out of touch, as there are many design techniques to make a traditional style suit any home.

Lastly, old English gardens usually came with multiple groundskeepers and gardening staff. Plenty of flowers and hedges are prevalent in an older-style garden, so it would require a lot of upkeep to look nice. Years ago, landscapers were limited in their materials; often, everything was built from natural stone and gravel. Although natural stone looks beautiful, it can require a lot of upkeep, unlike modern materials such as porcelain. However, there is no reason why you can't have a low-maintenance traditional-style garden...

Features of a traditional English garden

How to design a low-maintenance traditional English garden...

A traditional English garden is not the most low-maintenance design you can choose. However, if you love the style enough, a little maintenance will be worth it. Although you cannot make an English garden utterly free of upkeep, there are ways to adopt the style without committing yourself to weekly maintenance hours. For more ideas on designing a low-maintenance garden, follow the link to another one of our articles.

Instead of focusing on the living aspects of the garden, pay attention to the hard-landscaping elements of a traditional English garden and consider how to use space the same way. A good idea is to start with a pathway (made from either gravel or natural stone) that leads you around your entire area. A path is almost always a vital element of a traditional garden and one that does not require a lot of maintenance. The most important thing to remember is to keep your materials classic. Porcelain paving and decking do not follow this style, so avoiding them is best. Another option to consider is to use artificial plants and shrubbery to save yourself time from gardening chores. You will need a little bit of greenery to match the style; however, there are artificial plants nowadays that appear incredibly lifelike.

Introduce solid features into your garden, such as a water bath to attract birds and other creatures, such as squirrels. One of the best things about a traditional English garden is that they attract an incredible array of British wildlife. As well as giving wildlife something to drink, it's essential to sustain them with a food source; by doing this, you will keep them returning to your garden. Include an insect house in your garden to attract insects. The insects in your garden will attract birds; part of increasing the biodiversity in your garden is creating an ecosystem that supports the food chain. Of course, insects feed off leaves and flowers, so if you want to design a biodiverse garden, you must include some plants.

Not to worry - although plants need maintenance at some time or other, some require less maintenance than others. Fortunately, a traditional English garden usually homes perennials that resprout every year all by themselves. The only care you would need to do would be to cut back any faded stems, so they come back the following year. The key to choosing low-maintenance plants is looking at options that can survive harsh weather conditions. Selecting plants with plenty of flowers is also essential to attract bees into your garden. Bees will keep your plants pollinated and healthy for you.

At Wakefield Landscapes, we understand that garden design takes a lot of understanding and time to get right. If you are looking at creating a traditional English garden but do not know where to start, do not hesitate to contact us. We can get you in touch with one of our expert garden designers in Wakefield, who will assist you with the process.

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