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Garden Styles

SETTING OUT: your gardens skeleton

Garden styles roughly fall into two categories, the formal or planned and the informal, most gardens will fit into these.  Formal gardens are full of symmetry, straight lines, right angles and axis.  Informal gardens are natural gardens with free flowing lines and curvaceous beds.  Mixing the two is not a good idea, unless the garden is large enough to be divided into compartments.  Larger gardens lend themselves to less formal, romantic and exotic styles while smaller gardens make better planned gardens.

Within these Styles, one will find many Garden themes such as romantic gardens, container gardens, roof top gardens, indigenous gardens, coastal gardens and a host of others.  However, all of these themes will be partly based on a particular garden style or a combination of harmonious garden styles.

Country Gardens
Unsophisticated, laid back and un-kept are the thoughts that swill when one thinks of a country Garden. Informal to the max, country gardens make use of old bricks, rough stone walls and timber fences. More farmland than meadow, a country garden can also be near the sea. Randomness in planting and setting out is key to achieve this style. Random pavers, rough wood, stone chip and odd pots and furniture are good things to consider to get the country feel. Planting should unsophisticated and mixed, plants like daisies and marigolds can be mixed with herbs and herbaceous borders overflowing with different coloured flowers finish the look. Old tools and functional objects can be laid about and anything can be used as pots. Country gardens are romantic and magical and bring across the nostalgic notion of a English garden tucked away from the busy city life. 

Colonial Gardens
This garden is a sort of half way between formal and country. Born from the classic 17th century English look, it is a looser and more random formal style, so one wants to re create the feel of civilisation in the outdoors. It has a comfortable and comforting feel, with wooden decking, slate style flagstone pavers, wood chips and white picket fences. Rocking chairs and hammocks find a suitable home in this garden and pots are generally wine barrels or white washed pots. Planting is formal mixed with comfortable clutter; one can find box hedges and topiaries alongside rambling beds of meadow flowers. Verandaís and arches get a good dressing of creepers and are allowed to sprawl and climb aimlessly. A well placed bench and colonial functional object finish off this style and add a by gone effect not lost in the garden of comfort.

Mediterranean Gardens
Colour plays a big part in this garden style and eating outside or lounging by the pool is where this style works the best. Delicate hues are bleached from sight in strong sunlight so strong blues, yellows, oranges and whites are mixed around and splashed about. Coloured tiles and mosaics offer features to compliment chunky stones and sea shells and bring in the informal feel to this garden style. Big trees and large sun umbrellas offer shade from the sun while large spiky plants and bright bougainvilleas enjoy the heat created by this bright style. Along with the rich citrus and cypress feel, geraniums hanging from window boxes and lavender bushes offer great scents to entice all who enter the garden to linger outside. Pots are glazed or terracotta and in the urn or bowl style. Old whitewashed or greened busts or figure heads will add drama to this Mediterranean stage. 

Oriental Gardens
Peace and tranquillity, along with scale are the backbone of the oriental style of the east. The effect is calm and controlled, meticulous maintenance is evident and materials are of a natural variety. The best aspect of this style is that the garden need not be large, although, bridges, lanterns and large boulders make for dramatic gardens, a tiny space can be turned into a Zen paradise, thanks to scale. Bonsaiís are the epitome of scale in a eastern garden, along with a rock or two and some gravel, small spaces take on a peaceful persona and beautify any corner its placed in. Materials are natural, like bamboo, driftwood, stone and gravel, seating is low and pots are textured. Planting is minimal, deliberate and restrained. Splashes of colour are used sparingly and plant texture is of more importance. Water sounds are great mood enhancers and bridges or pathways donít have to lead anywhere. Moss and stone crush make ground covering easy. Ancient oriental style has become an inspiration for the modern garden and compliments a modern house beautifully. 

Modern Gardens
Taking its cue from the architectural movement, modern style is ever changing and pushing the boundaries. The one style where less is more, geometric meets organic. The best style for individual flair, lines are strong and materials are massively chunky, accessories are few but deliberate, using materials in a new and novel way makes great a impact in this garden style. Planting is simple, in mass and architectural, large leaved plants, spiky grasses and strong in line planting will create a modern feel. Surfacing is neat and clean, with a tendency for geometrically placed tiles and pavers. Pots and containers become art pieces to be placed at will to accentuate your design. This style is strong and uncluttered and works well will modernist architecture.

Formal Gardens
Formal French gardens of the 16th century have influenced this style and when reinterpreted in the 21st century, one gets a modern sculptured quality with clipped hedges, topiary shapes and statuary or formal features. The theme exerts man over nature, this is a universal style and some houses just cry out for it. The layout of the garden and choice of accessories are important and is done with great care to bring out the symmetry, geometry, balance and proportion of the style. Straight lines and axis plays a large part and this garden takes its lines from the house it surrounds. Surfacing is mainly stone with formal edges, believed to have originated as a security feature as home owners could hear approaching horses or man. Containers are symmetrically placed, are generally square and either moulded terracotta or whitewashed cement. Figurine sculptures and formal features create a theatrical feel and are placed symmetrically. Planting is neat, en mass and devoid of unnecessarily prettiness, with the view of the horticultural interest conforming to human design.



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