Dreamy romantic gardens seem to be having a revival in the world of garden design. Their untamed wildness ties in with the trend for naturalism and there’s something comforting about the old fashioned picturesque beauty they exude.
In the Romantic era of the late 18th and early 19th century, landscape designers aimed to capture the innate beauty and freedom of nature, as opposed to the more formal grandeur of classical gardens. But how do we create the look in our own gardens?
A sense of secrecy feels more magical than having everything being on show. Screens of hedges, tall planting and multi-stem trees help evoke a sense of mystery. And avoid anything too angular, like neat straight paths - go for slightly overgrown winding paths instead.
Cottage garden planting such as roses, peonies, hydrangeas, lavenders and wild flowers, in soft romantic pinks and purples have an idyllic appeal. Let the Alchemilla mollis spill onto the path and foxgloves pop up amongst lacy Anthriscus sylvestris. Climbing roses such as pale pink R. ’Blush Noisette’ or R. ‘The Generous Gardener’ will smother a wall, arch or pergola, as will soft purple wisteria.
Designer Libby Russell suggests mixing fruit and vegetables with cutting/annual flowers to create a romantic feeling. ‘As long as there is a very clear underlying design in the garden you can overlay so many layers, provided they create beauty and romance,’ she says.
Last but not least, a secret seating area, ideally with some antique furniture and vintage cushions, will complete the look. Surround it with scented plants and pots spilling over with Erigeron karvinskianus and you’ll be transported to a bygone era.