Getting Gardens Started in 2022

As the weather gets warmer and more inviting, you may want to add some new life to your space and start gardening for the season ahead. Along with the recent Royal Jubilee, we wanted to celebrate British gardening and hopefully give you some inspiration to pick up that trowel and start something new in 2022!

A brief history

Gardening in England has been a past-time for many years, with the earliest known gardens being planted by the Romans in the 1st Century AD. For most of this time the concept of a garden was very formal and mainly only found at the homes of those with high status, as a decoration for palaces and noble villas. These formal gardens were seen as an expression of humanity conquering nature and shaping it to their will, as such we see very defined shapes and straight edges that are meticulously kept.

A further reflection of these themes is the overall design that is seen with these gardens. Strong symmetry and segmented spaces divided by formal paths would show the great attention to detail and planning to have been exacted by the gardeners of the estate.

These formal gardens have stood the test of time and some still remain that you can visit today. While many may enjoy observing formal gardens, they may wish for something more fitting for their space. Thankfully like many art forms we see changes in style and trends and nearing the end of the 18th century we see something new develop and the start of what some may call a botanical revolution.

Gardeners decided that the “old” formal style was going out of fashion and therefore started developing a new “picturesque” aesthetic moving forward. The new style moved away from what some at the time called repetitive and towards a wilder and more natural look.

The underlying theme of the formal / Roman garden was to show power over nature and an artistic talent in only allowing what the garden’s curator desired, often to showcase specific exotic or appealing centrepieces.

Alternatively, the 18th and 19th century picturesque style was intended to reflect nature in a much more flexible way, drawing the eye and encouraging a casual flow through the scape with minimal borders or boundaries. The skill behind this style was to make the garden seem almost indistinguishable from the surrounding nature, but still show a unique personality.

After taking a look at each style you might be thinking that you want to incorporate one of them into your home garden, but before you commit to either of these styles, there are a couple of ideas we would like to share that may provide some added inspiration.

 

How Do I Start?

The most important thing is to explore inspiration and visit examples of the style you like, so that you can make a plan based on your space and work out what is best for you. You may find that you see something you really wanted to incorporate into your home garden, but because of the way that your space is laid out you might need to rethink your planning; it's really important to have something laid out even if it's just a sketch. The best practice is to make a list and have some visual references so that when you start buying and when you start work, you know from the beginning what you're aiming for.

A formal style may be traditionally used for villas and country estates, but it's also a really great way to add greenery and life in smaller spaces such as if you only have a concreted area or decking. You can replicate the style of having hard borders by using planters acting as a raised bed, making it possible to add plant life even in areas where there's no soil. You may even want to add a raised pond to your garden as much like having a planter, having a raised pond can add a water feature to your space adding a relaxing element, and attracting diverse wildlife to even the most urban locations.

The most common style and probably what will suit most standard British gardens will be the later picturesque style. These gardens are a really great way too add personality to your space and allow plant life to grow without having to necessarily maintain the plants as much as you may have to with a formal style garden. Although, that does not mean that what you pick will necessarily be “maintenance free” and there will always be a certain amount of work that needs to be done.

A great way to get started if you are a novice is to look at your area and to pick two or three locations that will be the main focal points of your garden. These may be existing spaces or they may be spaces that you would like to add something to an otherwise clean slate. With these points in mind then you can think about whether you want them to be focal points for a specific plant or maybe a water feature or even an ornament that you have that you really want to show off. The important thing is that although you may want your garden to seem filled, you don't want it to look overgrown; so having these few pre-designated areas will really allow you to focus in on a smaller scale and then as you become more confident you can expand into a broader area.

 

Best starter plants

After deciding on what style you want to use for your garden, you may be thinking about what plants and flowers to grow. ‘The Spruce’ has a great list of the 12 best plants for an English garden and they are all impeccable choices. With garden staples like Primrose or Lavender, along with colourful alternatives like Phlox and Delphinium, there is something for everyone. https://www.thespruce.com/english-garden-plants-4174047

When it comes to shrubs and trees, there are many interesting species of Hydrangea that are a good starting point, alongside maybe a Wild Cherry or Holly tree.

 

Water features

For many a classic British garden wouldn't be complete without some kind of water feature or pond, whether it be for the calming sounds of running water or the diverse wildlife it can bring into your garden all year round. If you're considering on having a water feature in your garden think carefully about the added needs and groundwork included whether that be the need of electrical pumps or filtration systems.

Having a pond in your garden doesn't just mean that you can attract new wildlife though, it also means that you can explore an even wider range of plant life and even as the season continues you have a constant source of nutrient rich water.

If you decide on having a pond or water feature in your garden, it's really important to think about the wildlife impact and ensure that it's safe for all the visitors that you may have in your garden. The Wildlife Trust has a great starter guide on how to build a pond and the accommodations you may need to make along the way. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-pond

 

Enjoying your space

Now we've mentioned the different styles, plants and features that you may want to have in your garden, but we haven't really explained the best way for you to take it all in and enjoy the fruits of your labours. It's always important to include a seating area in your garden so that visitors can sit down, relax, and enjoy the scenery around them.

There are many different routes you can take when thinking about garden seating but the main two that we feel is most versatile is either the classic garden bench, or incorporating a fun yet traditionally styled swing seat to add some extra interest in your garden.

The traditional garden bench is simple but elegant and offers a defined seating area for your guests to take a moment and absorb the atmosphere that you've created, letting your garden be the focus.

Alternatively, the swing seat is still very fitting for either a formal or picturesque garden style but can be utilised in many different ways. Sometimes being its own focal point, a swing seat can be a really great way to allow your guests to relax or reflect on themselves, using the garden as a backdrop for some quiet meditation or maybe reading on a warm summers evening.

 

Bringing it all together

Hopefully with this discussion about what we think are the core aspects of a brilliant British garden, you will be able to take away some ideas and use them as the starting point of your inspiration when thinking about bringing flair colour and life to your existing garden space.

If you're looking for further inspiration on how to incorporate specific styles or methods for the best way to work with plants, then we highly recommend exploring the wealth of resources that institutions like the Royal Horticultural Society have to offer for both new and experienced gardeners. https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardening

If you feel inspired and wish to discuss furniture options for your garden, please reach out and one of our team would be delighted to help.

We hope to see some of the amazing work that comes from our readers and their gardens in 2022!

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