Vic­to­rian style for a royal oc­ca­sion


Lacy flow­ers add a fem­i­nine charm to a gar­den, as well as to royal wed­ding bou­quets. Their ethe­real pres­ence helps to high­light more solid forms while not steal­ing the show from the main com­po­nents.

In a Vic­to­rian gar­den, flow­ers are just one fea­ture of these most English gar­dens.

To bring a lit­tle Vic­to­rian charm to your own gar­den, con­sider us­ing lacy high­lights in the form of flow­ers and hard­land­scap­ing ad­di­tions. White painted trel­lis can be one way to do this and will en­hance a climb­ing vine or rose planted at its base.

A sum­mer house or per­gola in this same ma­te­rial will in­stantly give a quaint English gar­den look.

As a high­lighter, white sharp­ens the fo­cus of coloured plants or green forms and gives a crisp, clean look.

It can also blur a hard line where for­mal plant­ings need to be soft­ened with wispy froths of flow­ers, such as that which gyp­sophila and Queen Anne’s lace bring.

Gor­geous green lawns were a fea­ture of Vic­to­rian gar­dens and these can be bro­ken up with a cen­tral or far-end fea­ture.

A gold­fish or lily pond in the mid­dle of the ex­panse of green helps to em­pha­sise the lawn, and benches sited around this cre­ate a pleas­ant place to sit with views around each side of the gar­den.

Many gar­den­ers place a bird­bath here in­stead, where the birds’ an­tics can be watched from within the house.

Sim­i­larly, a white-painted seat po­si­tioned at the rear of the gar­den gives a strong fo­cal point, es­pe­cially when viewed through a gateway, arch or gap in a hedge.

In a Vic­to­rian cot­tage gar­den, where ram­bling and seem­ingly colour­ful chaos reigns among the plant­ings, the lure of strong white fur­ni­ture can sug­gest a civilised respite.

Step­ping stones were an­other fea­ture of Vic­to­rian gar­dens, tak­ing the visi­tor through the grassed ar­eas. Clearly de­fined gar­den ar­eas were also a strong fea­ture of the era, with flower gar­dens and veg­etable gar­dens grow­ing quite sep­a­rately.

An or­chard and a kitchen gar­den was es­sen­tial and ev­ery­thing was for­mally planned in straight lines and geo­met­ric shapes. Paths and se­cret vis­tas led one to new dis­cov­er­ies as one moved through the gar­den.

But se­cure within this strict struc­ture, soft­ness and beauty also held court.

Known as a parterre, a flower bed was de­signed to be for­mal yet dec­o­ra­tive. These were nor­mally sur­rounded by turf and shaped with the use of bed­ding plants, small hedges or gravel.

On a large scale, these gar­dens give the im­pres­sion of elab­o­rate em­broi­dery and re­quire a gar­dener with a lot of time on their hands or with a team of gar­den­ers.

For mod­ern day gar­den­ers who are busy, a smaller ver­sion that is man­age­able will still bring much plea­sure.

One style of Vic­to­rian gar­den that was more man­age­able did away with flow­ers, but kept the parterre sys­tem.

Turf was laid out in an em­broi­dery fash­ion with gravel or low­grow­ing hedges mark­ing the pat­terns. Ge­o­met­ri­cally shaped shrubs con­trib­uted to the over­all neat de­sign, in­clud­ing pyra­mid­shaped top­i­ary.

Plant­ings in a flow­ery Vic­to­rian gar­den in­cluded peren­ni­als, an­nu­als, spring bulbs and favoured shrubs and trees such as dog­woods, hy­drangeas, flow­er­ing plums and crab-ap­ples. Roses were a strong favourite.

If you want to cre­ate a royal gar­den plot in re­mem­brance of the wed­ding be­tween Prince Wil­liam and Cather­ine Mid­dle­ton, these are the flow­ers in the bou­quet, with their mean­ings in brack­ets: Lily-of-the-val­ley (re­turn of hap­pi­ness), sweet Wil­liam (gal­lantry), hy­acinth (con­stancy of love), ivy (fidelity) and, of course, myr­tle (mar­riage and love).

There are many web­sites on Vic­to­rian gar­den de­sign. For 19th cen­tury flow­ers, see vic­to­ri­an­flow­er­gar­

Adding colour: Pretty polyan­thus curve around this trel­lis sum­mer


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