When you buy a new home with a garden, you have fantasies about how it should look, what plants it should host, what blooms it should have and in what period. Before starting to design it, we often forget to understand which garden style we prefer and, also, which one would be the most suitable for the characteristics of the place.
When starting to design a garden, it would be very useful to have the support of a competent expert, with valuable advice. Do we prefer a contemporary garden with a traditional touch? Do we appreciate the clean lines and the balance of geometric shapes? Are we curious about what grasses can offer, with a more natural and spontaneous note? Are we willing to be guided by an expert landscaper or gardener to discover the world of greenery in a different way than we have known it until now?
Whether you are trying to figure out which is the best style for you, or you are an experienced gardening enthusiast, it is always interesting to find new ideas to create stimulating corners in your new garden or in what you already have. You can choose to have Asian influences in your green space, elegant lines with a modern design, elements of the Mediterranean garden, warm and welcoming notes, or the essential style of the Japanese garden.
Below I try to provide some tips on how to choose a garden style. The first thing to do when designing a garden is to decide which style or main theme it should have. Only after making this decision, it is possible to start developing hypotheses on how to make the garden. Try doing this exercise: go out into the garden, observe it carefully in the condition it is in. Close your eyes and try to imagine how it should be in your opinion. You are ready to begin.
The essential elements of the modern garden were developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Geometry and linear design are the basis. The elegant and sophisticated style is built with shapes created with wood, metal, and concrete. The green space as a whole is well organized. More attention is paid to the built form than to the selection of plants. These must be, mainly, evergreens, selected, not for their natural attitudes but for the shape and consistency they must create. The notes of color or other shapes are added by garden furniture with cushions or accessories with bright notes, planters, or painted walls.
If you have elements created with concrete walls, you tend to leave this material its natural gray color, even if you sometimes decorate it with other colors. For metal structures, corten is mainly used, which if exposed to the weather, does not alter its color. It can be used to manufacture planters, to create screens to shield from prying eyes or as a covering of small walls.
If you prefer wood, for warmer notes, we generally prefer exotic woods, such as ipè or teak. Both are hardwood trees, given the slow growth of the plant, with well-defined color notes.
The contrast is one of the essential elements of the modern garden: a mass of evergreen plants is an excellent breaking element along a concrete gray wall, bright-colored cushions enliven the furniture with simple lines, otherwise almost trivial. Never exaggerate in using these breaking elements, otherwise, you risk creating only confusion.
Another common attribute in the modern garden is the combination of an area paved with stone or wood and ground cover plants such as the thyme spills or the ophiopogon to fill the joints, which otherwise would be completed with mortar.
These gardens are often the completion of the architecture of the house to which they belong. They are quite adaptable, having no predetermined formal elements. Typically, they are focused on the lawn. If made with the right skills and with a good balance between the elements, they are very stimulating and rewarding for those who want to design a garden.
For centuries the gardens of Tuscany, from Florence to Lucca, from Siena to Pisa, have been indicated as perfect examples of the style. From the gardens of the Medici Villas on the hills surrounding Florence to the stately villas of the hills around Lucca, these examples of landscape design tell the story, the past glories of this region, rich in history and culture. For centuries the Tuscan gardens, first of all, the Renaissance gardens, have inspired landscapers and gardeners.
The elements that characterize the Tuscan gardens are:
- The stone works, including walls, stairs, and paved paths ;
- Mediterranean scrub plants, such as boxwood, cypress, holm oak, roses, philia, mastic, etc .;
- Hedges with formal pruning, such as those in boxwood or holm oak spiders ;
- Terracotta pots ;
- Potted plants, such as citrus or roses;
- Surfaces covered by river gravel ;
- Fountains and water games.
The typical Tuscan garden is often surrounded or at least partly overlooking an olive grove or a vineyard. The vine and the olive tree are an integral part of the Tuscan garden. Marcano but at the same time confuse the border between the garden and the surrounding countryside in which it is immersed. In Tuscany, the climate can reach very distant extremes for cold and heat. As a result, not all plants adapt well to these environmental conditions. If the climate of the area where you live allows it, add citrus and aromatic herbs to your Tuscan-style garden also in pots. The design that characterizes this style is simple, with well-defined characters.
Inside a Tuscan garden you will usually find:
- Pergolas or pergolas: created with creepers such as vines, roses or wisteria, with the aim of having an area in which to relax during the hot summer days. The view of the landscape, if possible, completes the outline.
- Benches or other seats: often uniquely styled chairs are scattered throughout the garden, to offer a corner to rest or to read a book.
- Labyrinths: fantastic elements, reserved for those who have the privilege of having ample space available. They are ideal for children and often used as dreamlike attributes of the garden, where to take slow meditative walks.
- Herbs, cut flowers and vegetable gardens: in a region such as Tuscany, where the link with the land is strong, notes from the peasant culture, such as the vegetable garden, herbs to be used in the kitchen and the part of the garden reserved the cultivation of cut flowers used for home decoration. How to imagine Tuscany without immediately having a thought for its cuisine.
The Tuscan garden has formal elements close to the house and as you move away from it, it merges into the surrounding rural landscape. The garden around the house requires more maintenance than the care of the olive grove or the vineyard, where wildflowers are an inevitable note. An accent of apparent neglect is essential, nothing must be perfect, nature must be able to enter the garden with its forms and its spontaneous grace.
If we pay particular attention to the environment, the Tuscan garden appears as a prototype of a sustainable garden: the lawn is rustic, low maintenance, never pure; the plants used to belong to the Mediterranean scrub, they are parked in water consumption. The color palette of nature has more imagination than a good landscape painter. The expert gardener just needs to indulge in this natural spectacle. In addition, the plants are almost all indigenous, adapted to the climate and the soil, require limited maintenance.
As opposed to the formal style, where the plants are unnaturally forced, the English garden has a freer form, with a built spontaneity. It was the garden style that changed many aspects of the landscape and the way of gardening. Before the English garden, nature appeared as wild, dangerous, to be domesticated, afterward as a source of harmony, to be appreciated and valued.
Many elements of the culture of the time entered the garden and from the garden they took inspiration, history, philosophy, science, painting were linked to this style of garden. The English landscape style has irreversibly changed the way we see and build the garden.
What are the essential elements of English gardens? Here are a few:
- Reproductions of buildings from classical periods, such as temples,
- The presence of ad hoc ruins,
- The stones natural,
- Surfaces covered with pebbles,
- Dividing panels in different materials,
- Jars and containers.
If you build an English-style garden, there should be:
- Lake, pond, pond, most of them are artificial but all apparently naturally formed basins. The edges have soft and irregular shapes, with paths that wind through the trees and near the edge of the water.
- Lawns, have the function of deceiving the view, help to expand the space to place the “furnishings” in an apparently natural dimension. A small relief simulates a hill, small recreates the spontaneous countryside.
- Thickets of trees must appear throughout the garden, with walkways that allow the guest to enter the garden and be part of it. Single specimens of first size trees complete the picture.
- Sculptures and ruins help to provide views with a natural appearance as if the temple or sculpture was born for that place. Classical ruin cannot be missing.
- Caves, like romantic hiding places, made by man in the image of a natural cave.
Even today it is possible to design an English-style garden in a modern residential area. Of course, there is no space to create the theatricality of an English garden, but many of its characteristic elements can be used, as long as the proper proportions are respected: small trees instead of thirty meters, small ponds instead of lakes, short passages to replace bridges.
The English garden is designed to look natural and to be a place for rest and meditation. The guest is encouraged to enter it and walk the gravel paths. Here too the balance between formalism and spontaneity is reached thanks to the help of an expert professional.
The French garden developed after the Italian Renaissance garden. French garden style borrowed many features from the Renaissance gardens but developed its own style. The Renaissance style did not influence the French gardens until 1600. Subsequently, the castle gardens were designed using new principles for France. The main goal of this new style was to impress the guest from the city and the court extravagantly.
Characteristic features of French gardens :
- Gravel covered surfaces,
- Concrete or stone balustrades,
- Cast iron or wooden planters,
- Fountains and water games,
- Cast iron seats,
- Natural stones,
- Enameled vases,
- Pylons as supports for plants,
- Bird aviaries.
Common elements of a French garden:
- The residence is the focal point of the whole construction of the garden. At the center of the garden is the house, a junction of walkways and paths created with manic symmetry.
- Geometry, geometry is the first inevitable element, symmetry is the basis of the design of a French-style garden.
- Water, together with symmetry, water enchants, creates and shapes the landscape, enchants the visitor with its shapes and noises. Fountains cannot be missing, they reflect sunlight, shadows, have the most disparate shapes (rectangular, oval, circular, etc.).
- Parterres, designed near the house, are covered with vegetation (shrubs or vines). The details are meticulous if they are attached to the house. The further you go, the more the details disappear.
- Statues, can not be missing as elements that appear as you proceed in the garden.
- Terraces are inserted in the garden with the aim of allowing you to admire the garden in all its beauty and every detail.
The gardens of Versailles are the best-known example of this style of garden. If you don’t have the same space available, it doesn’t matter. Again, you can get excellent results by playing with proportions. All the elements we talked about above cannot be missing but must be scaled down.
Trees must be planted in a straight line, creating symmetries, emphasizing the views of the landscape that you have. Gravel or stone walkways and green roofs must be reduced in size. Remember to draw the green areas following geometric lines. A fountain or sculpture must be introduced by straight paths that emphasize its importance in the garden. An orangery to host citrus fruit embellishes the garden and home. It will be enough to build a small greenhouse or veranda.
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