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5 steps to the perfect English garden

Caitlin Hughes Caitlin Hughes
Crown Tudor Pavilion Mediterranean style garden by Crown Pavilions Mediterranean
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The idyllic beauty of the typical English garden is appreciated in every corner of the globe, with stunning examples of 'English gardens' found both at home and much further afield. The design of the English garden as we know it today emerged in England in the early 18th century in the grounds of grand houses such as Chiswick House and Stowe House in Buckinghamshire. The influence of these beautiful pastoral landscapes has filtered into modern garden design, and although it's unlikely you have space in your garden for a lake, bridge, or classical monument, you can create the perfect English garden with a more modest approach, and smaller budget. Here are 5 examples of modern English gardens and some useful tips to help you create your own:

1) English flowers

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Show 2010 - The Combat Stress Therapeutic Garden Classic style garden by Fi Boyle Garden Design Classic
Fi Boyle Garden Design

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Show 2010—The Combat Stress Therapeutic Garden

Fi Boyle Garden Design

This haven of relaxation, designed by landscapers  Fi Boyle Garden Design, was awarded the RHS Silver Medal for Show Garden. The open green spaces are bordered by English lavender, and the willowy branches of the trees which mark the end of the path create a dynamic visual without appearing overbearing in this elegant garden. When it comes to creating your English garden, choose traditional plants and flowers such as lavender, foxgloves, and of course, English roses. Climbers and planters will help you to create a beautiful garden, and pruned bushes and hedges will add shape and variety. There should be a lot of green areas as the design should evoke country pastures, so ensure you don't sacrifice too much of your lawn to decking or pebbled areas—maintain a balance between the two. 

2) Divided zones

Traditional English gardens would have areas for quiet contemplation and taking high tea with friends and acquaintances, so the idea of divided sections is nothing new. However, for a modern twist that has been adapted to the slightly more modest gardens we're used to, a timber screen such as the one seen here can be added. This cedar screen has a window opening which allows for a glimpse to the back section, enticing visitors through the garden. Alternatively, an archway decorated with climbing flowers works to the same effect and makes for a classic and traditional looking garden. 

3) A garden pavilion

The perfect spot for catching up with friends and family over a cup of tea or glass of wine, the garden pavilion is a typical feature of the English garden and is making a comeback. You will usually find the pavilion, which is often make of wood and of a hexagonal shape, tucked away in the corner of the garden for maximum protection from the elements and for privacy. Be inspired by this design from Crown Pavilions, or for more ideas take a look at these 5 stylish garden pavilions.  

4) A corner for reflection

Bristol city garden in May Modern garden by Karena Batstone Design Modern
Karena Batstone Design

Bristol city garden in May

Karena Batstone Design

As we mentioned, English gardens should have a place for reflection and relaxation. This doesn't have to be a pavilion; it can also be a simple but stylish seating area. Wooden benches which blend in with the natural surroundings are a good choice, though there are plenty of elegant designs to choose from that would work well in a garden such as this. Create a decked or paved area, or utilise your patio, for the perfect seating or dining area that will allow you to enjoy your English garden in comfort. 

5) A relaxing water feature

contemplation corner Asian style garden by Juniperhouse Asian

contemplation corner


A water feature is an easy and attractive way to incorporate the all important element of water present in every grand English garden. Of course, a pond would fit perfectly into an English garden, but not everybody has the space. A small and simple water feature can have a big impact on the look and feel of your garden. Whether you opt for an understated pebble feature with water trickling over the top, or something more modern like this water feature with a mosaic backdrop, you're bound to notice the difference it makes. 

Have you got an classic English garden? Let us know how you've designed yours!
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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