Do you wish your flower garden had more style or pizzazz? Too often
flower gardens are just flowers in straight-line beds next to the
house. Strong geometric lines and symmetrical plantings define formal
gardens. Although lovely, such a formal garden looks out of place
with the architecture of most homes. The flowing lines and asymmetrical
design of informal gardens fit most homes better. Informal garden
styles vary greatly so choose the type that suits your taste and
The traditional mixed border incorporates various types of trees,
shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, ornamental grass, and vines
into an aesthetically pleasing whole. You should a choose wide variety
of plants to keep the border visually interesting year round. Trees,
shrubs, and ornamental grasses will provide the garden with background
structure and winter interest. A mixture of annuals, perennials,
and bulbs will dominate the garden during the growing season.
This style should be the easiest to achieve because most homes
have a few trees and shrubs planted next to the house foundation.
First change the relatively straight lines of the shrub bed to sweeping
curves by digging out new bed outlines. Evaluate established trees
and shrubs, then move, replace, or add make the garden more pleasing.
Finally, fill in the remaining spaces with an assortment of annuals,
perennials, and bulbs keeping year round interest in mind.
The cottage garden style is a diverse mixture of the gardeners
favorite plants. Flowers of all varieties, shapes, colors, and sizes
typify this style. A cottage garden is always in bloom during the
growing season. Random plant placements and informal design give
a feeling of chaos to the flowerbeds. A cottage garden is never
stagnant. The gardener should feel free to move the perennials around
in the garden to improve the gardens beauty.
The new American garden is ideal for large areas with full sun.
This style developed from the desire to add more native plants to
landscapes and as an alternative to lawns in hot dry areas. The
garden consists of dramatic sweeps of one species followed by another.
Plants chosen for this style are based on their strong structural
elements, multi-season interest, and heat and drought tolerance.
Ornamental grasses often play a key role in new American gardens.
Other commonly used plants are coneflowers, rudbeckias, sedums,
and euphorbias. The most striking new American gardens are planted
on slopes that accentuate the large expanses of plants.
Specialty or theme gardens are the most fun garden style. These
gardens are limited only by the gardeners imagination. Butterfly,
hummingbird, water, herb, or single color gardens are examples of
this style of garden. More unusual themes might be built around
literature, history, or cooking. A Shakespearean garden would incorporate
plants mentioned in William Shakespeares plays and sonnets.
Likewise, a Biblical garden has plants from the Bible. A childrens
garden might have bright, easy to grow flowers and vegetables. Young
children might like an alphabet garden with plants starting with
the letters from A to Z. Another kid pleasing garden is a taco garden
with tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, and peppers.
Woodland gardens depend on random plantings of shade loving plants.
Many woodland gardens rely on native perennials and shrubs. Annuals,
groundcovers, and trees may also be used. Winding paths through
the garden encourage exploration and discovery.
Prairie gardens follow the pattern of native prairies. The garden
is dominated by grasses and sedges and accented with prairie flowers.
Depending on the plant species used, prairie gardens may be developed
for dry, mesic, or wet sites. These gardens are very informal.
Whatever garden style you desire, remember gardens evolve and change.
The best gardens are never finished. Annuals and perennials especially
give the gardener the opportunity to experiment and alter the garden.
Choose a style, use curving lines, and have fun. Overall, the best
gardens reflect the gardeners personal taste and style.
April - May 2001: Prevent
Garlic Mustard from Setting Seeds | Perennial
Gardens with a Purpose | Garden Styles | Preventing
Crabgrass Problems in Lawns