I need some advice on what plants would do best in creating an English garden in central VA. I deal mostly with indoor houseplants and agriculture, so this is relatively new to me! Thanks for the help!
I suggest you google 'English Garden' as a start othewise the term is so vague as to be almost meaningless.
Expand your googling to include the more local to you gardens of Colonial Williamsburg. Lots of English "inspired" colonial revival gardens - formal and otherwise.
FshyPlnts, if you can tell us what kind of English garden you want -- or link to photos -- we'll be able to provide suggestions.
Photos of the area(s) you want to turn into an English garden would help. Or a diagram of the property.
Here's a link to how to post photos or other graphics from Photobucket:
When you click on Preview Message, what you see there is what you'll see in your post. So if a photo doesn't show up in Preview or a clickable link doesn't work there, you'll need to try again.
Sorry Paul this all sounds so negative now, I have written a lot about this over the years but as a cliche "English Garden" presses all the wrong buttons for me. James Rose was a similar curmudgeon and when a client asked him to design a 'Japanese Garden' he asked "and where in Japan do you live?" So tell us, what do you want?
Paul- Try visiting the Cottage Garden forum. If you're looking for something a little less formal, this may be for you. If you're looking for formal garden ideas, the potager forum might be a good start.
You can get several lists of english garden plants...but they almost always start out with roses, delphiniums, and foxgloves. For a cottage garden, climbing roses, clematis, honeysuckle, and other vines are nice additions. I like to mix in herbs, too, especially lavender...but there are many possibilities.
Have fun and do your research! To learn more about roses that will do well in your area, try the rose and antique rose forums. Antique roses are often easy to grow and there's always some great choices for almost any area. Hope this helps :)
None of these are of my garden...but they might give you some ideas. From Kitchen plans
From Kitchen plans
From Kitchen plans
Sorry for being so vague, I don't work with outdoor flower gardens so I am not fully understanding of the terminology and such. The garden will be located in central VA. The garden will be up against the edge of the woods, and protrude about fifteen feet into the yard. The plot gets full sun throughout the day. Currently it is planted with Siberian Blue Iris and a variety of day lilies.
What we are hoping for is a very flowering garden that has that wild appeal to it. Very little obvious structure. Here are some pictures that give an idea of what I mean. I have some flowers in mind, such as foxgloves, manarda, etc, but I am really looking for suggestions! Thanks again everyone!
On this side of the pond, those you pictured and described are usually called cottage gardens. It's not about what is planted there, but how the space is completely covered with no rows or apparent patterns. The space you are working with is easy, with an obvious front and back. You want tall stuff in the back, short stuff in the front, perennials are expected to come back each year.
It's best not to start with too many different plants the first year or two until you get to know and recognize the weeds a little better. To let stuff grow that close together, you have to be vigilant about weeds, checking under the plants. Take pics a few times while everything is growing to help you remember where stuff is the next year. If you make a grid for your plants and use some "x's" for the columns early, mid, and late bloomers, you'll quickly start to see if you can reasonably expect flowers over a long period, from spring to fall. Your bottom pic shows a garden with most of the plants blooming at the same time. You can't really have both (all plants simultaneously blooming vs. something blooming from spring to fall) in the same spot. This is something with which we all wrestle, and why you will thank yourself later if you choose interesting and varied colors and shades of foliage whenever there is a choice. Don't forget to leave some paths or stepping stones.
In your pics, I see Eupatorium (joe pye weed,) Solidago (goldenrod,) Rudbeckia (black eyed susans,) Helianthus (sunflower,) Salvia (sage,) roses, Monarda (bee balm,) Echinacea (coneflower,) Sedum, Verbena bonariensis, Dianthus, if that helps you get started. All should be hardy in your area or, in the case of Verbena bonariensis, make plenty of seeds for the next year.
Thank you SO MUCH for this information. I'll have to take all that into account. Are there any bulbs of seeds that I should plant now going into winter so they will be ready in the spring? Also, the soil is mostly clay. What would you suggest I use to amend the soil? There are also a few beds around the front of the house that I would like to tie into the garden. If there anything I should know about what not to plant next to the house? I love redbuds, could I plant a couple along the back of the garden? What other trees or shrubs might be nice? I know there are a lot of questions here, I am just trying to understand it all! Thanks again!
Here is a link that might be useful: Envi Sci and Fishy Plants
I see Shasta daisies and gaillardia as well. Maybe snapdragons too -- in any case, they would fit right in.
You can plant spring bulbs if you do so soon. Keep in mind that once the blossoms die, you'll need to leave the usually uninteresting foliage so the plant can build up energy in the bulb for the next bloom season. I have daffodils planted between daylilies, which hide the daffodil foliage nicely.
Exactly how clay-ey is the soil? Take a look at these articles:
The first pod in your blog is probably from some sort of locust tree.
You might do well to buy or check out from library "the bible," The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSababo Aust.
What would you suggest I use to amend the soil?
I would put down several inches of compost, covered with 3-4" of finely shredded hardwood mulch. If there are weeds growing there now, you can lay newspaper down first, then the compost and mulch. As time passes, your soil will improve if you continue to work it, and add good things to it. This method is one of the many ways to do lasagna gardening, a term you can find much to read about if you search.
When you dig holes to add plants, make sure to penetrate the newspaper and I like to use a pitchfork, dandelion fork or screwdriver to make a few deep punctures at the bottom of the hole.
There are also a few beds around the front of the house that I would like to tie into the garden.
Do you mean theme-wise, or physically? I would recommend lasagna layering if you mean to eliminate some grass to physically connect the beds. If you are aiming for a theme, color schemes work well for this, and repetition of larger plants and shrubs.
If there anything I should know about what not to plant next to the house?
Very generally, you don't want to constantly wrestle with shrubs that want to get bigger than you like. So look for info about the mature size of them UNpruned. Divide the expected width in half, then add 1 foot to know how far from the wall they should go. Once you have the shrubs, then turn your focus to flowers.
I love redbuds, could I plant a couple along the back of the garden?
Redbud is a native and commonly found at the edge of the woods. They do produce a lot of seedlings, but most trees do, removing those sprouts is just part of gardening near trees. Allow for the mature size of the redbuds when adding something big and hard to move near it. It's easy to move smaller perennials if the tree eventually makes too much shade on them, but trying to move a well-established shrub would have you cussing.
What other trees or shrubs might be nice?
The easiest ways to start are to see what is available to buy, and to investigate your area for plants you like, then find out what they are. If you can't get it, it does you no good to want it. Shop, research, then buy. As late as it is in the year, you might do well to spend the winter learning in preparation to spring into action when it warms up. Smaller perennials are easy to move, but you want to get the bigger stuff right the first time. Don't forget to consider how what you do will look from your windows, your views from inside, not just from standing on the sidewalk.
I know there are a lot of questions here, I am just trying to understand it all! Thanks again! We are all on that journey. You're welcome ;)
I have about a year's worth of The English Garden magazine, published in England by and for English gardeners, and I love to look at them, over and over.
But the true English garden would make most American gardeners quake in their boots. They are largely comprised of wide, billowy borders of very tall perennials and shrubs, mixing all sorts of perennials, annuals and what we think of as wildflowers (and yes, our concept of weeds in some cases) together in glorious masses.
They love plants that reseed wildly and prolifically, just pulling out what they don't want, many of which we tidy Americans consider invasive and would gasp in horror at the thought of putting them in our nicely groomed gardens.
They rely heavily on hedges, topiaries, and tightly pruned evergreens for structure. Their paths are often carpeted with small wildflowers, grasses, and other things that would send most of us running for the Roundup.
English gardens sound (and look) romantic, gorgeous and wonderful, but I'm not sure most Americans would care for all the work to keep them that way! Besides, they sometimes have trees that really set them off that are hundreds of years old--which is about how long the English have been at gardening!
(I do love one of the letters to the editor about a problem with peacocks from the neighboring castle invading someone's garden, and how to deal with them! Lol!)
What you probably want, really, is a cottage garden look, which is easier to accomplish and maintain in the long run and you won't have to pay a gardener to help you.
But many of the invasives here are native there. I have come to realize that if a plant has English in the name, I don't want it in my garden. So no English ivy, English holly, etc. Here in the Pacific Northwest, our climates are similar enough that those English plants will proliferate and go crazy while not providing any habitat for the native creatures.
But, if I were in England, I would probably be fine with them and perhaps then avoid all the plants with Pacific in their name.
But the greater point that English gardens and even cottage gardens are more work than a lawn with a row of marigolds is true. But the payoff can be greater if that's the look you desire.
There can also be an emphasis on foliage rather than flowers. Here is an award winning fall garden north of Birmingham recently in the news.
I do wonder though if it is just as spectacular in other seasons...
Paul- Your garden will be up, against the edge of the woods? Do you have deer, in those woods? Are you fencing off your garden area?
If you do have deer, you should check and see what plants are considered 'deer resistant' in your area. I believe redbud trees are not deer resistant, but you should definitely do your own research.
In our area, we have deer, but not so many that they eat everything in sight. They do love roses, so I have to hide mine behind plants they don't like. I believe delphiniums and foxglove are deer resistant, but I don't grow them, myself.
Here's what has worked for me...hope this helps :)
Butterfly bushes, lilacs, cosmos, daisies, coreopsis, zinnias, marigolds, coneflowers, salvias, catmint, lavender, bee balm, peonies, daffodils, hyacinths, alyssum, sweet woodruff, pansies, columbine, sage, pineapple mint, oregano, cotoneaster, barberry, cinquefoil/potentillia and clematis.
Ouch....that first picture of the award-winning garden in Birmingham makes my hair stand on end....so contrived it hurts!!! LOL
I find it the antithesis of restful: it's like being grabbed and pulled sixty different ways at once. I skipped right past it!
There are some truly amazing colors there ... but color isn't everything.
Yup, I totally agree. And the fact that the news organization enhanced the colours makes it even worse. The article said that the people who developed the garden started it over 20 years and spend 6 hours a day every day just keeping it up. It struck me as very similar to the previous thread of Becke's where the gardens were verdant, incredibly well manicured but sterile. Neither looks as if it is something to enjoy, just a project to be maintained. Pity. I still love me a good foliage garden though...
You might find the attached of interest. Part way down the page you will see an item called 'Historic garden types list' if you have a look at the various types of 'English Garden' you will see that Paul is talking about the 'flower garden' style. The style of the garden in Birmingham is not listed but I would suggest the 'not in my back yard' style but it does illustrate what I said about the vagueness of the term 'English Garden'.
Here is a link that might be useful: English Garden
That first picture looks as if a cartoonist designed it. Whoever gave that garden an award needs their credentials reviewed.
Six hours a day maintaining it?!! It's just a backyard! I don't spend a tenth of that time with my garden and it covers acres. Now if he spends six hours a day developing it, that's a different story. He's trying to maintain it as is. Big mistake!
It shows no knowledge of landscape design at all. None. The gardener didn't learn a thing as the garden progressed and matured. He just imposed his will on it by shearing tighter and tighter. No natural looks, no drifts, just random polka dots. Talk about contrived! Seeing that picture posted above makes me not want to see the garden in person, much less meet the owner. It hurts my eyes, even without the color over saturation.
A feel for nature, when it comes to design, lessens the maintenance. The owner has no feel for nature, hence, a lot of maintenance.
What award did the Birmingham garden win?
An "Idiot's guide to Garden Design" I think it was and a pair of gold shears.
Best Match of Wardrobe to Garden Color.
Thanks for the links, ink!
If I get nothing done today, you will deserve a great deal of the blame.
Hee, nothing like a good critical opportunity to get everyone's blood flowing. Nice to know though that I wasn't the only horrified one.
If you look at pictures of this place in other seasons as well, the colours are almost as jarring - which is rather surprising since
English cuisine is known to be so very bland :)
So, I went back and looked things up. This garden won the 2007 Daily Mail Garden competition (yeah, I know) and the BBC2 Overall Garden of the Year National Competition in 2010. Probably why it was in the news. It has also been featured on a number of British TV gardening shows over the years. Furthermore, the owners, a retired doctor and his nurse wife, conduct garden tours for charity, having raised L25k...so I'm guessing that somebody over there really, really likes this style. Does that mean "pastoral" is passe then?
Great link, ink. Not in my back yard indeed.
Well, here I go being the minority again. I really admire this garden. Ah well, what did Yardvisor call me, artistically bereft? But honestly, I think there is much to admire here if one does not go all apoplectic on the basis of one photo. Alone the effort and the commitment to a vision is quite impressive. You people keep harping at OPs here to get a vision, and then you encounter the garden of someone who has one, and you can't stop spitting. What the heck would the professionals among you do if you got a client who had taste like this? Slap them upside the head?
I did some searching and came up with the garden's own website, which connects you to their flickr album. There is much more of the look of the right hand photo that Adrienne posted. Also, looking at the website it becomes clear that these are actual people who own this place, and furthermore, that they seem both quite nice and very knowledgeable. I don't think they deserve this abuse. They know their plants and what their needs and boundaries are, and also their climate, and they quite carefully manage the intersection between the two. If you find the section of their website with photos of "the jungle," it seems they are also zone pushers, which alone takes some knowledge, time, and attention. I think they have to understand nature and their plants very well to do what they do. They just don't do with their knowledge what others would do - and can, if their yard is larger.
I really like the stonework (the stone and the work), the plant selection, and the emphasis on foliage contrast. I also like the densely planted look. The thing I don't like is the overabundance of round shapes in the first picture, but this is mitigated if you look at more of the garden. Elsewhere there is even some whimsey!
Maybe I've just read too many British gardening magazines. But honestly, living as we do in the land of "welcome to my garage" and "foundation planting = landscaping," I don't think we have too much to be snobs about.
Here is a link that might be useful: Four Seasons Garden
Well-imagined, beautifully cared-for ... but just too impossibly BUSY with all those little shapes and contrasting colors. Way too many little round things.
I love the story of the conveying and planting of the palm tree (probably because I too am prone to doing crazy things). [Click on Jungle -- Making the jungle.]
The poor man was raised to cut "more than 150 yards of hedges at his parents' home." In his senior years, he still feels he has to prune everything into submission. (I'm only surprised he wasn't a surgeon rather than a GP.)
Some British "nature" we don't see too often linked below. Photos of the bugs at the end are quite extraordinary.
PS MTO, not sure it's better to be like me, so much empathy with the bush I can hardly bring myself to cut a branch...
Here is a link that might be useful: Garden visitors
After reading more about the garden and the owners, I would like to meet the owners. They're more interesting than I had first thought.
Closeups compliment the garden more so than a picture of the entire garden.
I see a lot of pruned stubs on the Paperbark Maple though.
I doubt any of our gardens, including mine, can stand up to the intense scrutiny that's given here. Mine doesn't even stand up to my own scrutiny.
There is no perfect man made garden.
Are you just looking for a fight karin? I see no apoplexy only a reaction to a photograph, if we were meant to view the entire garden, its owners and their philosophy perhaps the reaction would have been different. I can't say that I am aware of too much "harping" about a vision either although you yourself have a go at times "living as we do in the land of "welcome to my garage" and "foundation planting = landscaping," I don't think we have too much to be snobs about." may qualify.
What is going on here is the bursting of an illusion in that any garden in England should be revered as the archetypal "English Garden". Adrienne shows a couple of views of one that is eccentric to say the least, I realise that eccentricity along with being gardeners is also a characteristic of English people. In my opinion this garden should be looked at as a very personal thing and territory a professional would not be allowed to set foot in. It is open to criticism but this does not amount to abuse of the owners.
To each their own. Not in my backyard either.
However I do think some of the criticisms are overly harsh on here and suggestions that the owners won the "idiots guide to gardening" would somewhat contradict your above statement that "criticism does not amount to abuse of owners". Criticize their style by all means.
As usual humour doesn't do well on the internet. The "Idiot" guides incidentally are well know beginners guides to many topics, I guess the implication is that the reader is an idiot but that is not what I meant.
Wow, that Four Seasons Garden is astonishing, in every sense of the word, quite an exercise in extreme gardening, turning fantasy into reality; or is it the other way around? I will never again dismiss one of designshare's photo montages as unrealistic. The photos of the garden in April snow are especially intimidating. No, not in my backyard, but I admire their skill in achieving the results they want.
So who wants to start the discussion now on English follies in the landscape? And why there are no good ones in North America?
The English have had several hundred years on us, to beat their country and landscapes into submission, and spend their time building follies and hone their gardening talents into an art form. Many of their gardens, topiaries, etc are centuries older than our country.
Americans have been really busy just trying to make North America a civilized place to live and eke out a spare living from it, in the last 100-200 yrs, and there hasn't been a whole lot of leisure time for garden foolishness, except in the last few years, but it also takes money.
There may be a few copy-cat English follies in the "colonies" or in the South, but not many of our very own, I think.
Oh boy, colored meat balls! Yippeeee!
Before you get into a discussion on follies, don't you have to define what you are talking about? There aren't going to be any English follies in America because of Ink's point of what does 'English' mean outside of England? If you want to talk about American style follies, there is Opus 40 for starters. Nelson Rockefeller's outdoor sculpture collection at Kykuit may also be in the running at this point in time. But there is a lot that is fairly eccentric about Kykuit. The Mayan statues on Cruger Island would definitely be worth talking about if the Met hadn't hauled them off a century ago. Bannerman Island probably also counts now. Though it didn't start out as a picturesque ruin but only got that way after it blew up.
and that's just around here.
Do corn mazes count?
How about the Chihuly glass exhibition that was touring botanical gardens for a while. To my mind, that defies description.
What I was always told about the survival of English Victorian gardens was that the money hadn't been there in the 1920's to redo them to modern tastes. Then the money really wasn't there in the 1930's, the 1940' brought their own problems, and by the time the 1950's rolled around, the gardens were old enough to have historic value.
"Folly" refers to decorative structures on a property that serve no purpose other than to be decorative. No thought to being functional.
In today's gardens, there probably aren't too many hermit's retreats complete with resident hermit. Or would that take them out of the realm of folly and into functional?
I guess I could recreate Stonehenge in my yard. A "folly" or just folly?
@ duluthinbloomz - Depends how much money you have :)
I've always wanted a folly in my urban retreat, perhaps some faux Grecian ruins. Sadly, it would take up most of my yard.
To me the thing that hurts the most about the first photo of the award winning garden is the oversaturation of the picture. There's something about that level of oversaturation or alternatively, the spot coloring of photos, that makes me think Adobe may be an evil company.
@mad_gallica - Wow, I had to look up all of those except Opus 40. I'm not sure any of them are actually follies
but they are definitely fascinating.
Why copy a certain style?
Do you need a blueprint?
Why not go out on your own?
Work with what you have,
.....and what you know.
It's an on going process.
Gardens are meant to evolve.
Here is a link that might be useful: My garden
The book Golden Age of American Gardens defines that time as 1890-1940.