How to create an English garden down under
There’s no question about it – English gardens are truly beautiful. Full of variety, plenty of leafy greens and vibrant colour, and an unmistakable air of class and timelessness, its no wonder many of us wish to create our very own English garden in our backyards.
You may think that the contrasting climates of Australia and England means you cannot model your back yard after your favourite English garden – but in fact, some areas of England actually have lower rainfall than that of some areas of Australia!
You can still use English style gardens as your inspiration – the traditional style may just need a few tweaks to thrive in the Aussie sun.
Because of Australia’s size, the climate is diverse, making for completely different gardening experiences in each part of the country. While this does mean there is no standard list of plants or flowers that thrive in Australia, this can be seen as a positive thing – your garden will be completely unique in its composition!
What makes up an English style garden?
In the very traditional sense, English gardens represent an idealised view of nature, and hark back to Greek, Roman and some Chinese historical elements.
The defining characteristics of an English style garden include:
- a mixture of symmetrical and asymmetrical elements
- water elements, be it a more natural looking pond, or a formal water feature
- predominately smooth and natural curves rather than straight lines
- rolling green lawns or expanses of gravel
- winding garden pathways
- defined flower beds and hedges
- stone details like low walls, pathways and benches
- iconic English garden plants like antique and David Austen roses, delphinium, hollyhock, foxglove, bleeding heart, clipped yew, boxwood, bluebells, snapdragon, saracocca, garden peony, hyacinth, and clematis
How do I create my own Australian English style garden?
There are no hard and fast rules to gardens – especially modern ones that take inspiration from a number of sources.
However, if you wish for your garden to have a distinctly English feel to it, there are some key things to consider when planting and landscaping. Go all out with a formal water feature surrounded by a bed of flowers complete with low hedge borders.
If you live in an area with particularly low rainfall, rolling expanses of lush green lawns are probably not a viable option – opt for stone pavement to create a courtyard-like aesthetic, and complement the look with groups of traditional English plants like peonies, hollyhock, bluebells, or borders of clipped yew.
Even if you aren’t completely overhauling your garden, you can introduce elements of an English garden with small flowerbeds, a line of hedges along one side, a stone bench or a strategically placed rose bush.
The main thing to note when adding English elements to your garden is the maintenance and care required for particular plants – speak to the experts at your local garden centre about which species will work best in your area. There are some more heat-resistant rose types, and other flowering plants that give the same feel of an English garden without upping the overall maintenance and water use.
Fast facts about English gardens
- The style can be traced back to early Roman times, but the gardens we would recognise originated during the 18th century
- Many of the plants traditionally included in an English garden are not actually native to England at all – making it easier for you to incorporate a number of them into your backyard
- English gardens are a mixture of French, Italian, Greek, Roman and Chinese elements