10 quirky English garden ideas

Kate Crudgington Kate Crudgington
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English novelist Henry James began his classic novel - The Portrait of a Lady (1881) - with the following sentence:

'Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.'

James is right, and where better to indulge in both the traditional past-times of reading and taking tea, than amongst the greenery of an English garden? Whilst the words 'English garden' will carry different connotations for each gardener, there are two things that will unite anyone seeking to revamp their garden with English garden décor: elegance and tranquility.

Fortunately, the décor of an English garden is not purely reserved for the acres of land surrounding stately homes; it can be achieved in your own garden with some strategic planting and iconic accessories. Whether you wish to keep things traditional, or are interested in a more contemporary, quirky twist; here are some examples of the ways in which you can fill your outdoor space with English garden décor.

Regardless of budget or space, you can maintain the quintessential elegance of an English garden with these simple style ideas.

Tea Time

Whether you're hosting a tea-party or you're in need of refreshment after exercising your green fingers—there are hosts of outdoor dining accessories that will add the desired English effect to your garden; and none more so than the tea-cup!

Whether you opt for the ornate china cups & saucers to accompany your cake stand on your outdoor dining table, or if you wish to make use of the practical, rustic, allotment-like range of outdoor dining accessories - like this charming tea-pot (left)—your garden will feel instantly English once you're sipping tea in it.

Transforming the Tea-Cup

Tea Cup Stools and Mug Tree by Holly Palmer:  Garden  by Holly Palmer Contemporary Furniture
Holly Palmer Contemporary Furniture

Tea Cup Stools and Mug Tree by Holly Palmer

Holly Palmer Contemporary Furniture

Tea-cups are responsible for more than simply holding the nations favourite beverage; they have become an iconic symbol of Englishness, and have become a versatile element in English garden décor.


For a modern, contemporary twist on English garden décor; why not invest in these super-sized tea-cups? (Designed by Holly Palmer Contemporary Furniture). Not only are they eye-pleasing, available in various colours, and a quirky edition to the space - they're a versatile piece of garden furniture. They double as both a seat, and a table - which makes them perfect for sharing cups of tea on.

This is also a compulsory piece of garden furniture for anyone who wishes to base their garden on Lewis Carroll's fantasy Alice in Wonderland. This will bring new life to the Mad-Hatter's tea party.

Transforming the Tea-Cup (2)

If you're not a fan of bold colour in the garden, why not try the tea-cup seat in white instead?

English Flowers

Flowers are essential to the creation of style in any garden and there are several ways in which you can achieve the traditional English garden look with flora and fauna. Whilst you could draw your inspiration from the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, you don't need to have an expert knowledge of flowers to achieve the look you desire. Patriotic poppies, romantic roses and luscious lavenders; all of these flowers are familiar sights in English gardens and can easily be incorporated in to your existing flowerbeds.

If you want to be creative, why not go the extra mile and emulate the colours on the union jack flag? For the red white and blue effect, try an incorporation of roses, bluebells and snowdrops. Hanging baskets that brim with primroses and trailing ivy will also add an English, decorative element to your planting style.

Tranquil Water Features

Antique Lead 2 Tier Water Fountain With Rose Detailing:  Garden  by UK Architectural Antiques
UK Architectural Antiques

Antique Lead 2 Tier Water Fountain With Rose Detailing

UK Architectural Antiques

If you have a larger budget, why not splash out on an elegant water feature? With a vast variety of styles and materials to choose from - including stone, plaster and marble—an ornate water feature could transform your plain outdoor space in to a tranquil, English retreat. Features with tiers—like this fountain (left)—will create a pleasant trickling sound— like the aural ambience of an English summer stream.

Bold Statement Pieces

Royal Mail ER Cast Iron Floor Mounted Pillar Box :  Garden  by UK Architectural Antiques
UK Architectural Antiques

Royal Mail ER Cast Iron Floor Mounted Pillar Box

UK Architectural Antiques

Bring the British Institution of The Royal Mail in to your garden with this bold, replica post-box. Much like the iconic image of the tea-cup, these red pillars are symbols that brim with Britishness. This accessory is best suited to larger gardens, and will provide an effective, eye-catching contrast amongst the greenery in your plant beds.

A Pinch of Pixie Dust

Peter Pan—J.M. Barrie's irrepressible spirit of youth—discovered Tinkerbell in Kensington Gardens. Bring the magic of that experience to your own children in your garden with this cute fairy-house accessory from Marble Inspiration. Inspire their imaginations by attaching the house to a fence, or wall and surrounding it with outdoor fairy-lights. Alternatively, create your own mini English fairy garden by hiding the house in a flower-bed, surrounded by pretty bluebells.

Winged Wildlife

Teapot Bird Feeder:  Garden  by ELLA JAMES
ELLA JAMES

Teapot Bird Feeder

ELLA JAMES

Even birds need tea! Continuing with the tea-cup theme, this bird-feeder is an ideal hanging accessory for your garden. It'll provide plenty of photo opportunities for the amateur ornithologist, and keeps the garden view interesting even when the feeder is unattended. Once filled with seed, this will attract small birds such as blue-tits, sparrows and red-breasted robins.

For more ideas on how to use birdfeeders in your garden—particularly eco-friendly ones—check out this Garden Products Ideabook.

Quaint Cottage Courtyards

Exterior of cottage:  Garden  by Rooms with a View
Rooms with a View

Exterior of cottage

Rooms with a View

If you are limited for space, why not try emulating the style of the courtyards that often front traditional English cottages? Rooms with a View (left) have used simple wooden furniture and pot plants to transform an ordinary space in to an elegant, English style garden. This proves that you don't need a large garden or a large budget to incorporate English garden décor in to your outdoor spaces.

A Quiet Place For Reflection

Home Accessories:  Garden  by rigby & mac
rigby & mac

Home Accessories

rigby & mac

Whether it's a single chair in a shady corner of the garden, or a sunlit bench surrounded by bright flowers; a place for solitude and reflection is essential for any English garden. A Victorian style, white rocking-chair is the perfect answer to your English garden seating needs. This statement piece will not only look beautiful against any garden back-drop, it will provide an opportunity for escape on a sunny Sunday afternoon, so you can full enjoy the splendor of your English garden.

What do you think makes English garden décor so special? Tell us in a comment below...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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