MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Touch Of Formality In My Garden (Garden Elements. Part 2)

There is no doubt that my garden is eclectic.
In this post, I want to look at the signs of formality in my garden.
I love formal gardens. My heart sinks when I see beautiful formal gardens of Europe, for example. However, I should admit that I wouldn't want all my garden to be formal. But, I enjoy having elements of formality which add some pizzaz to my garden's appeal.
Formal gardens generally incorporate such features as symmetry, geometric forms, straight lines, uniform textures and colors, clipped hedges, classical accents as urns, sundials, pillars, etc.
Do I have symmetry? Symmetrical plantings? Some. Palm trees in big planters on both sides of the back patio. Tall topiary Privets on both sides of the central entrance to the house. Big classic planters and round boxwoods on both sides of the path to the central entrance.
Does my garden have geometric forms, straight lines? Yes, some. Clipped hedges of Japanese ilex, for example. I planted 100 small ilexes in 2004, and they grew to a nice hedge in front and behind the house.
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I also have classical urns and sculptures that often are featured in formal gardens. Pillars? No. But, I would love to!
Topiaries fit well in formal designs. Besides privets, I have several simple ball boxwoods in pots and several in the ground.
I don't have symmetrical gardens divided by a path through their center which have the same or similar plantings and other garden elements on each side. I have two beds on both sides of the path leading to the house's entrance. They share only a few perennials and shrubs because the soil conditions are different. One bed has two huge fir trees stealing the water and nutrients from other plants. This limits the variety of plants in that bed.
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A central focal point, such as a sculpture, water fountain, etc. can serve as an ordering element in the garden. I have a pine cone on a pedestal under one of the metal arches. I wish I could have a path leading to it. But, that part of the garden, between our house and a neighboring property, is pretty narrow (upper right picture in the collage below). The path would be a third parallel line. I don't think it would look good. What do you think?
Repetition of garden elements is also recommended as a way to create a sense of order in the garden. Do three identical arbors in my garden create repetition? It looks like it does.
Using boxwoods, privets and ilex, repeatedly throughout my design, also creates some uniformity and, I hope, ties together various parts of my garden.

I don't have stately trees, planted along the driveway. There are lot of evergreen trees and shrubs, but they grow naturally here and there, without any order.
The structure within the formal garden can be created by walls and hedges. Behind the house, a retaining wall and a hedge of japanese ilex create a separate space, kind of a garden room (lower left picture in the last collage). Hardscape garden materials can contribute to a formal look too. They name bluestone, brick and granite as more formal materials than fieldstone or flagstone. Brick or stone patios are considered more appropriate in a formal garden than wood decking. We chose pavers that go along with the bricks used for a house.

Mowed and edged lawns are also the part of formal gardens. Some members of our family love lawns and don't mind to maintain them. But slowly, step by step, I am taking parts of the lawn and turning them into borders and flower beds. My husband does the mowing and edging, while I prune hedges and topiaries.
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Garden Elements. Part 1 is here: Gazebo (Garden Elements. 1.)
P.S. I was not blogging last week while serving as a parent shaperone on my sons colonial history tour on the east coast. I hope to sort through the pictures this week and show some of them to you.

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

24 comments:

  1. Sp pretty in our garden ! I am a mix of formal, cottage and Charleston ( a mish-mash )..while Charleston style is a formal English style really. Such pretty photos too ! thanks, Gina

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  2. I agree that a mixture of formal and informal elements adds great interest and the gardener's personality to a garden. While I love formal gardens, there look does look a little.....textbook, meaning that they look like someone followed the outline from a book. A little sterile, perhaps, for a home garden?

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  3. Your gardens look so elegant Tatyana. I love the garden art you have chosen. Beautiful.

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  4. It is fun to visit your beautiful garden via your photos. My garden is eclectic too. Planting 100 small ilex for a hedge worked out great, I can see.

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  5. Tatyana your garden is beautiful! I like a touch of formal, as well. It does add an interesting touch.

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  6. I like your eclectic approach. The really formal European gardens, although lovely, also have an element of rigidity about them. They don't feel as comfortable and welcoming as your garden.

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  7. Tatyana, You do have a lovely variety of urns and columns and I love your winter garden as well... your formal elements do work especially nice with your architecture too. You have a great amount of pruning to do at least you have someone else to do the mowing! Love the boxwood edge in your winter shot. Lovely.

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  8. Lots of thought and planing going on with your planters, lovely.

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  9. Lovely, I think the more we garden the more formal elements we put in to it. We can play with more details. Yours are all so beautiful

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  10. The classical touches in your garden are just beautiful.

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  11. The elements of your garden are beautiful! I like all your urns and arbors, as well as your lovely plantings. Winter reveals what excellent bones your garden has.

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  12. Hi Tatyana - what with Blotanical being under construction and my own schedule, I've not been around for a while...
    What a clever approach to a post! As you know, the tension between formal and informal is to me one of the keys to the design of my own garden. I'm also a great believer in contrast. Your garden has many open and flowing areas, therefore my theory would be to ACCENT the narrowness of the garden leading up to the urn with a path - perhaps even with a narrow border either side of it, further accentuating the narrowness and linear quality of the area. A simple planting of e.g. bergenia spilling onto the path and edged with brick on the lawn side?
    Keep well - Jack

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  13. I have often thought of your gardens as formal through the photos you have shared. Oh a gardener can learn a lot from you, keep it coming.

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  14. The stone planters and urns look great in your garden, especially softened with the lovely plantings. The pedestals really draw the eye, as well as adding height.

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  15. Formal Gardens is cool and calm with its symmetrical projection. But somehow, elements of creativity will have to be put aside...

    ~bangchik

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  16. I have always loved the touches and decor you have in your garden. I so love that banister planter girl. Just gorgeous. I love so many different things that my garden beds are usually a hodgepodge of plants and things setting about. Cannot wait to see the pictures from the east coast.

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  17. Beautiful post!! A wonderfully broad variety but at the same time it comes together perfectly. Keep up with the pictures too- they're amazing!

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  18. Such beautiful elements Tatyana!

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  19. I wish you had been on the tours with us~You would have loved the gardens...Some were more formal, but a few had that perfect blend of informality and formality...You know exactly what I mean! Your photos are excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed this post. gail

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  20. I think my driveway is too short for some stately trees (or even one big one). We do have a small lawn with defined boundaries and lots of 45 degree angles...I guess that must be sort of formal.

    Christine in Alaska

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  21. Hi Tatyana Dear, I'm glad you had safe travels to the east coast. I look forward to the photos.

    Your garden has a lot of the formal elements I love. The statuary is beautiful especially with the brick facade of your house and the formal walkways. And you know me, the clipped hedge is a favorite of mine. Great post.

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  22. Your garden elements all tie together so well. I love all aspects of it! But I'm only 'slightly' mad at you for not telling me you were going to be in VA! I know you were probably on a busy schedule with your sons group, but how nice it would have been just to say hello;-) I hope you had fun and enjoyed yourselves! Jan

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  23. Your gardens are simply beautiful, Tatyana. The formal elements do add so much to any garden, and yours are very well done. After seeing the gardens in England, I would put your own space in that same league easily. :-)
    Frances

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