How to Create a Victorian Garden

Britain's place in the world was key to Victorian garden design. With an Empire on which the sun never set, it was natural that plants would be gathered from the furthest pink shaded corners of the globe. They would then be transported back to, and this is important, not only grand gardens but the modest plots of the burgeoning middle classes.

Created by David Coton on Thursday, 21st of February, 2013.
Updated on Friday, 28th of August, 2015.


fern

Better communications helped to spread horticultural knowledge and ideas. Inventions such as the lawn mower impacted on what could be achieved and how much nature could be controlled. And increased leisure enabled more time to be spent in the garden either looking after it or relaxing.

Neatly manicured lawns and well stocked exuberant borders were the order of the day. Your ornate planting scheme would include many seasonal plants in geometric patterns, summer bedding behind neatly snipped box. The path and edging would be terracotta tiling leading to a doorway bordered with climbers.

With the importation of more exotic plants and an increasingly ostentatious approach, gardening was all about show not harmony with nature. It wasn't until the late 19th century when a more naturalistic planting was once again promulgated.

There was an increasing interest in the science of hybridization with the development of many new cultivars, and if there is anything that absolutely symbolizes this trend it is the rose.

Roses

There were so many new rose varieties that whole gardens, or at least beds in more modest spaces, were devoted to them. To suit the times, and before being superseded by the more modern hybrid teas, the hybrid perpetual roses had large scented decorative white, pink or red blooms. The beautiful red scented Countess of Oxford, the luscious pink Georg Arends, the darkly crimson Empereur du Maroc or the white Gloire Lyonaisse were all new to the Victorians.

Dahlias

Dahlias were another popular plant with over 500 cultivars. You can understand why, with their vibrant colours and showy disposition. 'White Aster' and 'Kaiser Wilhelm' with yellow petals tinged with dark red, are two of the surviving hybrids.

All the world's a plant

It might be easier to list plants that the Victorians didn't favour. Trawling the world for the bright and beautiful, here are just a few of the popular ones: Agapanthuses with their showy purple flowers, hollyhocks - tall with spikes of rosette blooms, 'Love Lies Bleeding' showing off its crimson tassels, snapdragons, asters, chrysanthemums, yellow and red calceolarias, marigolds, pansies, violas, hyacinths, lilies, irises, sweet peas and red hot pokers. In essence, showy, vibrant flowers full of colour with a touch of the exotic.

Shrubs, the bolder the better to show off your status, included hydrangeas, rhododendrons and azaleas, forsythias, cotoneasters, skimmias, camelias, magnolias, viburnums and fushias. No gardener would think it a bad idea to place a yucca in the most inappropriate setting, the idea was to flaunt every acquisition.

Ferns

Ferns were also tremendously well regarded, perhaps because land owners could show off their impressive glasshouses and ferneries, the only places where tender specimens could survive. They were also thought to boost your love life. Fern collecting expeditions set off in all directions and there was even a name for the addiction, Pteridomania or Fern-Fever resulting in the near extinction of some native species. The fanaticism is unsurprising as they add texture, drama and represented the Victorian values of endeavour and exploration.

Ornaments

Ornaments were important to add structure and interest to the Victorian garden, bird baths, sundial, statues, urns – placed surreptitiously or as a focal point. If you can't get hold of an original, Haddonstone have been manufacturing cast stone ornaments from original designs for the past 40 years and their extensive range contains all the ornamentation required to reproduce your own Victorian artifacts.

Trees

Again particularly if gathered from some far off land, many types of trees were valued, none more so than the Monkey Puzzle which became commercially available in the 1840s. Fruit trees also became fashionable, so it would be interesting to plant a Victorian variety such as the sweet Egremont Russet or the heavy cropping Newton Wonder. For pears, choose the excellently flavoured Triomphe De Vienne that has been growing vigorously since 1864 and, from the same pollination group, Josephine de Malines.

Related Articles

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

How To Choose, Plant And Maintain A Fruit Tree

Late autumn and winter is the perfect time to plant fruit trees and, whatever sized garden you have, Martyn Loach thinks there's space for a tree if you choose carefully and manage correctly.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Tuesday, 4th of September, 2018.

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

GardenSite Donates Prize To Grow Your Own Picnic

As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 25th of May, 2018.

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Take Your Own Plant Cuttings

Propagating by taking cuttings, whether from your own plants or ones you admire in neighbouring gardens, is a fantastic way of increasing the variety of plants in your own garden free of charge, and all you need are a sharp knife and patience.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Monday, 14th of May, 2018.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

David Coton

Partner at GardenSite

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

What To Do In The Garden In November

What To Do In The Garden In November

David Coton suggests that there are plenty of gardening jobs that need to be done in November, from why you shouldn't throw away your fallen leaves to how to take care of your vegetable patch.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 27th of October, 2017.

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

Chickens aren't difficult to look after, all they require is a constant supply of water and regular food. As Martyn Loach explains, you should keep an eye open for any ailments, and they'll need to be cleaned out once a week.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 15th of October, 2018.

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

Timber garden decking never seems to lose its popularity, and why should it, when it's such a useful way of extending your living and entertaining space. Andy Taylor explains why decking is so easy to install and how best to look after it.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Thursday, 11th of October, 2018.