Where the love grows
Ahead of the next week’s royal wedding, Hannah Stephenson tells how to create your own romantic setting
Want to add a touch of romance to your garden in honour of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? You may not have the resources of Philippa Craddock, the royal couple’s wedding florist, but you can still reserve a space in your garden to create a lover’s haven, complete with heavily scented roses, blousy peonies and foxgloves, their chosen flowers.
Here are some of the features which could make up your romantic setting...
COTTAGE GARDEN FAVOURITES
Roses, foxgloves, peonies (right) and delphiniums in soft, pastel shades of lilac, blues, pinks and whites all have their place in the cottage garden, which has a relaxed feel and a dreamy, haphazard informal structure.
If you have space, plant naturalistic grasses in swathes, interspersing them with soft-hued flowers, to create a hazy effect. Repeat-plant to provide some structure to what typically looks like an informal, unforced design.
White roses represent purity and innocence and were used as a symbol of true love, before red became more popularly associated.
The Sunken Garden where Harry and Meghan had their first photo call was planted with white flowers to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
If you want a romantic cottage garden, you’ll need an open, sunny area with welldrained soil, enriched with organic matter — such as compost or well-rotted manure. Other plants which typically fit into the cottage garden setting include lavender, salvia, astrantia, Verbena bonariensis and aquilegia.
Even in the smallest space, if you can incorporate snuggled seating and fringe it with scented plants, such as lavender, or create an archway of roses and clematis over it, then you’ll be heading for the height of romance.
A secluded spot somewhere quiet in the garden, which enjoys sun for at least part of the day, can become a lovers’ retreat.
Water not only creates an air of calm to a garden, but it can also reflect the sky, passing clouds and surrounding foliage, as well as helping to blot out traffic noise.
It can be a feature to admire, or just to listen to at the end of the day. Coupled with soft solar lighting and white-flowered plants, it’s also an after-dark haven.
If you want the water to reflect the sky, go for a feature of shallow, still water without plants, using a dark material in the bottom of the water feature, to make the most of the reflections.
FLOWERS FOR CUTTING
Bring the romantic garden inside by growing flowers for cutting outside, including sweet peas, cornflowers and roses. Just a few blooms from your romantic plot, cut at the back of a plant where it won’t show, can be arranged in a pretty enamel jug or glass vase. Make sure you don’t cut your flowers from one place, leaving an obvious gap in your border.
Of course, a carefully-chosen sculpture is a huge romantic gesture in any garden. There’s a wealth to choose from, from granite nymphs to heart-shaped ironmongery, bronze lovers, and coloured-glass installations and astrological signs. Before buying your sculpture, think about where you’re going to put it and take a picture of the spot to get an idea of size, location (will it be in sun or shade?) and how the will light change the colour of the piece.
If necessary, place cardboard boxes on top of each other in the spot, to get an idea of scale, and make sure it has enough space to stand out. It may be safer to choose the piece together and share the enjoyment — and the romance — for years to come.
BLOSSOMING ROMANCE: Harry and Meghan in the Sunken Garden. Inset, a romantic sculpture