Get More From Your Garden by Mixing Things Up
Can you combine formal with casual in garden design? Absolutely. You see it all the time in gardens, especially small gardens, where defined proper hardscape is softened by fluid, casual planting.
Most gardens before the first part of the last century were planted in a really formal manner, especially in municipal gardens and parks where seasonal bedding plants were used to fill in boundaries in a regimented manner. William Robinson, the famed Irish gardener that championed more pragmatic gardening, proclaimed,”It’s only where the crops of a garden are set out in geometric design, as in carpet-bedding and bedding-out, the term’formal’ is applied.”
This was changed radically in the Edwardian age in England by the two giants of garden design: the plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll and the architect Edwin Lutyens, that could see the advantages of blending informal using the formal in garden design.
Lutyens, a young architect who designed the Cenotaph in London along with the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi, India, had great ability in producing the skeleton of gardens about homes he designed, however he turned to the aging Jekyll, that had an amazing comprehension of not only using the ideal plant in the ideal place but of producing planting schemes to match his hard landscape structure.
The use of this complementary design style, formal with the informal, has almost become the standard in garden design and the basic diet of modern designers in show gardens.
Kathleen Shaeffer Design, Exterior Spaces
These severe concrete raised planters could dominate the garden, but the smart use of this casual mixed planting not only softens them, in addition, it balances them.
Gertrude Jekyll had lots of simple principles, including ensuring that the crops match their preferences, however, perhaps most importantly, never forgetting that the hardscaping should be enhanced rather than bothered by any planting.
Debora carl landscape design
Here again we can see how the balance between formal hard landscape and the soft planting was achieved, with overriding the other.
The gardens of Jekyll and Lutyens were geometric in layout but organized with deliberate asymmetry — the planting being normally irregular, as we could see in this contemporary scheme.
The large Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia x candida ‘Double White’) is central to the design, but does not overpower it.
The Garden Consultants, Inc..
Informal planting does not always have to reevaluate formal planting in a modern garden. The loosely-clipped boxwood chunks revealed here create a rhythm of planting that echoes the straight lines of the retaining walls and paving. The stains of looser, casual planting break it up somewhat.
Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture
Lutyens believed strongly that there is no free curve in nature –“each line obeying the laws and forces that make it” It was the result of those convictions that produced the powerful geometry his strategies exhibited.
This contemporary hillside garden displays all the simple geometric shapes so adored by Lutyens — both the squares and oblongs connected in a pleasing format.
The smart trick with the design, though, is the way the free-flowing planting not only softens the hard landscaping, but draws it into the surrounding natural landscape.
Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture
House entrances and immediate areas adjoining to the house generally have a tendency to be very formal to permit easy access. Both Jekyll and Lutyens considered in a silent introduction to the house with no flamboyance.
Planting in connection with these formal places can be very traditional, with reduced boxwood hedging or other clipped evergreens, such as cotoneaster or pyracantha, accentuating the intersection between paving and building. By using less formal planting, the link between both is softened and the planting nor the paving overpowers the other.
The planting here is a beautiful mix of the tall grass Miscanthus sinensis‘Morning Light’ with reduced ground cover crops, including Santolina pinnata, Stachys lanata and Language lavender blurring the trail edges.
Sozo Landscape Design
Whether you believe this to be garden design, it is without a doubt clever landscaping.
The flat climbing Junipers, left to their own devices, create an informal break one of the powerful formal lines of the walls.
More garden weepers and creepers
Folia Horticultural + Design
In this illustration of rather strict, formal hardscaping, a geometric run of pavers are put in a sea of gray river stones. We may expect to see a line of formally clipped evergreens directing the eye on the spheres and trees in the end of the trail, but instead the planting is loose and casual, being permitted to grow loosely across the cobbles.
The Artist Garden
Even in the latest of roof gardens you may locate the formal casual mix. Underneath the container planting is a really simple, proper design, that without the informality of that planting could make a very sterile area.
In the majority of modern roof and balcony gardens, you tend to find very regimented planting in a slick design — rows of insistent planting in identical containers. That is, in most cases, the designer wanting to take account of this connection of the house with garden.
Repetitive lines of containers in gardens are often implanted in a really formal manner, with clipped evergreens being the favored.
Here, though, the total formality is divided by the smart use of blending different herbaceous plants — rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, etc. — in an irregular, casual planting. Not only is it decorative, but it also is the best spot for a herb garden, just outside the door.
At a tribute to Jekyll, Lutyens said”the true adornment of a garden lies surely in its flowers and plants. No artist has wide a palette because the garden designer, no celebrity has great need of discretion and book.”
Today’s generation of landscape designers are also artists in their own use of casual planting. Andy Sturgeon’s M&G Investments Garden in the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show was a perfect illustration of the yield to this juxtaposition of formal and casual in the invention of this”new English” style.