Landscaping an English Garden
The English garden brings to mind meandering country lanes with pretty cottages and exuberant gardens surrounded by honeysuckle and rose bedecked fences, and herbaceous borders overflowing with a profusion of perennials and annuals such as foxgloves, irises, delphiniums, violets, lavender, hydrangeas, carnations, dahlias, stocks, hollyhocks and roses.
This glorious abundance of pretty colours may look haphazard, but it is the harmonious arrangement and contrast of line, colour, texture and different growth habits that produces a pleasing picture.
Wide herbaceous borders are a typical feature of English landscaped gardens and if the grouping has been done well, there will be colour in the garden throughout the year. A restrained colour palette of greens, greys, blues, pinks, creams and white with the occasional splash of bright colour works best.
Many of the plants chosen will be perennials, but annuals can be used here and there to fill in the gaps left by flowering bulbs.
A carefully chosen selection of perfumed plants such as jasmine and gardenias is another lovely feature common to English gardens where the delicate, mingling fragrances gently wafting on the breeze, can be enjoyed for most of the year.
Take care to select small to medium sized trees that will not overshadow the garden. Deciduous trees such as Prunus serrulata (Japanese flowering cherry), Quercus palustris (Pin oak) and some of the splendid Acers always work well, as they will provide welcome shade in summer, striking colour in autumn, allow through warm sunlight in winter and as spring approaches, they will be covered in gorgeous fresh green foliage.
Meandering gravel pathways and metal or wooden pergolas and archways, festooned with rambling roses, petreas or wisteria, as well as rustic gates, bird baths, ponds and pots overflowing with colourful geraniums or dancing fuchsias will further enhance this charming palette.
Consider the layout
Although the general feel of the English garden is essentially informal, it is important to achieve a well balanced and pleasing structure and flow as this will form the "bones" of the garden.
The background of your borders should consist of an informal hedge or shrubs and trees which offset the colours and foliage of smaller perennials and flowers in the foreground.
The front of the borders should have gently undulating edges giving a softer line to the garden, thus creating a harmonious flow.
Doing the ground work
Since the perennial plants in the English garden will remain in position for several years it is important to prepare the ground thoroughly in advance, as it will be difficult to improve the soil later without damaging the plants.
Many perennials have deep roots so plenty of compost, manure and organic fertilizer should be dug in to a depth of at least 600mm.The more thoroughly you prepare the soil, the better will be the results.
Prepare the areas to be planted at least a month or two before planting. Spring to late summer is the best time to begin planting your English garden, but planting can be done throughout the year in the more temperate regions.