Inspiring and Intricate Herb Garden Designs

The history of garden design dates back to 1500 BC. The earliest evidence of horticulture and landscaping is in the form of Egyptian tomb paintings depicting lotus ponds surrounded by symmetrical rows of acacias and palms. The famous Hanging gardens of Babylon were known as one of the wonders of the world. Temple gardens contained vegetables and herbs that were considered sacred. In the middle age, sophisticated herb garden designs and horticulture techniques were developed by monasteries. Monks grew medicinal herbs and treated the sick fellow monks and the community who were suffering from ailments with these healing herbs. The wealthy Romans built villas with water cascades, topiary, rose and shaded arcades. Much of the present modern herb garden design is influenced and inspired by the intricate, traditional Persian, Zen and Italian Renaissance gardens.

Your herb garden design should reflect the inspiration and theme. Herb garden may be one of the various design styles and techniques brought out below:

Knot Herb Garden Design

Knot gardens are symmetrically-designed gardens using geometric patterns with fantastic view obtained from trimming the plants in a knotted shape. It requires constant grooming and keeping the defined shapes by the precise pruning of edges. Herbs that work well in knot gardens are those that can be trimmed and designed into hedge. Varieties of dwarf herbs, such as Thyme, Chamomile and Lavender are good choices. Some possible patterns for a modern knot garden can be Diamonds, Oblongs, Diagonal crossings, Triangles and Wheels. These patterns can have divisions for different herbs that can be segregated according to hues, contrasts and fragrances.

English Cottage Herb Garden Design

There are two types of English herb gardens. The informal types are called Cottage gardens and are used for culinary and medicinal properties. The second are the formal gardens built for aesthetics and visual appeal. These gardens were structured and used knots and overlapped with row plants. Lavender and Thyme are ideal and widely used in English herb gardens. English cottage gardens are popular in American circles and widely emulated for their wild abundance of perennial flowers and herbs, vine-covered arbors, and plants tumbling over walkways.

Tuscan Herb garden Design

Tuscan herb gardens incorporate traditional elements in style and the design contains elements, that are characterized by both plants and the accessories. One of the important features in Tuscan garden design is the use of vases, urns, and terra cotta pots to grow your herbs in. Though you are expected to use a hoard of garden containers to create your Tuscan garden design, you don’t really have to spend a fortune for buying vases and pots. The herb garden looks perfect in its rustic look even when it is cultivated in chipped and cracked pots. Use of Italian herbs is best for the Tuscan design with optional inclusion of poppies and flowers. Use of a trellis and grape vine or grape ivy to create a look of Italy’s tradition of fine wines will give a stunning look to your Tuscan herb garden.

Topiary Herb Garden Design

Topiary is a formal garden design that uses the art of pruning and training plants and shrubs into decorative shapes. It goes as far back as the Romans, but many of the artistic forms or prunings were developed in Europe. Massive topiary shapes of animals, birds and sculptures can be created out of tight evergreen bushes or hedges. You are not expected to craft elaborate sculptures out of the herbs, use simple topiary design that will enhance your herb garden giving it an artistic view.

Landscaping the herb garden doesn’t require high degree of professional skills. Using stones and rocks in home gardens provide a seat of tranquility for reflection and relaxation. Caring and tending for a garden can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, divert stressful memories and help in conjuring good thoughts that have a lingering beneficial effect on the subconscious mind. Reserve a part of the garden to enjoy a few minutes of solitude, meditation and prayer. The mind can rest and the eyes can feast on diverse muddle of colorful herbs, blooms and flowering plants, distributed in a seemingly haphazard but pleasing style, apparently evoking thoughts of a “natural landscape.” The symphony and aura of herbs with flowers in the overall composition, and the wildness of the arrangement gives rise to a closer communing with nature.

Garden Design – How to Design a Small Garden

Designing a small garden involves making use of every centimetre of space, and using visual tricks to make the garden seem larger. The plan for a small garden must be millimeter accurate as there is no room for adjustment if the plan is found to be incorrect when constructing the garden.

Many people think a plan is not necessary when they are landscaping a very small garden, whereas the absolute opposite is true. It is especially important to prepare a plan where space is limited to ensure that the finished garden meets the practical requirements and looks great too. Preparing a detailed garden design plan will ensure all the functional areas are the correct size for their purpose and will fit into the garden. A good garden design plan allows you to check that the garden will work before you approach landscaping contractors and start spending money. Some well-prepared 3-D visuals bring the garden to life and help you see how the garden will feel once it is constructed. The garden model and visuals are the final check that the spaces all work in harmony with one another ensuring that the garden is a comfortable, relaxing space in which to spend time.

When designing a small garden a simple layout with clean lines and strong geometric shapes works best. The design should not be overly complicated. If curves are required a central circle which can be either lawn, planting, paving or a path is better than fussy freehand curves.

Although it is tempting to scale down the garden features to avoid cluttering the space this will result in a muddle of insignificant elements that does the exact opposite. Including a single bold structure like a chunky pergola or a rendered blockwork wall around a seating area creates a sense of enclosure, introduces a touch of drama and holds focus inside the garden. Textured finishes like slate or pebble cladding can be used on courtyard walls to add interest and also stop the boundaries from becoming overbearing.

Wooden structures like pergolas and arches enable vertical planting and provide height. A heavily planted pergola placed against a boundary wall blurs the edges of the garden and suggests extra space beyond. Paint a black rectangle on the wall at the end of the pergola to suggest an entrance to another garden area beyond the wall to increase the sense of depth in the garden. Another extremely good way to add height and drama to a garden is to include a tree. A well-chosen tree will give immediate internal focus to the garden as well as adding an essential 3-D element. There are small trees suitable for even the tiniest garden.

A gate fixed to a wall or fence surrounded with climbing plants creates the illusion that the garden continues beyond the boundaries. A well-executed trompe l’oeil doorway painted on a wall framed with evergreen planting and climbers is a simple, fun way to add interest and give the appearance of more space. Using diminishing sized pots, plants or statuary, or narrowing a path as it approaches the boundary will create a false perspective that makes the garden seem larger.

Level changes like steps, raised beds, or a raised pool give the garden an extra dimension, make it appear more interesting and distract attention away from the boundaries. Raised beds and retaining walls for pools can also double as seats if they are between 450mm and 600mm high. Creating extra useable space in the garden by introducing features that have a dual purpose it more useable as well as more attractive and this automatically gives the illusion of more space.

Using contrasting colours is another way to suggest that the garden extends beyond its actual boundaries. A pale wall with a door-sized rectangle painted in a darker colour framed by some climbers and planted pots looks like a passageway. Contrasting flower and foliage colours are also effective for creating interest, contrast, directing focus and adding the illusion of extra depth.

When there isn’t much ground area using the vertical space helps to provide more visual interest without cluttering the garden. Some ways of doing this include attaching planters to walls, hanging baskets and troughs from fence posts or mounting them along the top of fence panels.

In a small garden is it essential to use a limited plant palette – too many different plant species will make the space seem busy and closed in. It is also important to make clever use of all available planting space. Climbers are a great way to introduce greenery without taking up valuable space, and shrubs like Garrya elliptica, Fatshedera lizeii and Itea illicifolia, Ceanothus and Rhamnus alaternus perform well when secured to a wall or fence. In courtyards where there are no borders place trellis panels in floor mounted troughs. Green walls work extremely well in small spaces. Sedum roofs on sheds, bin stores, and other covered spaces are a great way to introduce low-maintenance planting into smaller gardens.

A small garden does not have to be boring and featureless. With some careful planning and creativity smaller spaces can make stunning gardens and wonderful, low-maintenance places to de-stress and entertain.

Surrey Garden Design Inspiration

Other counties might be extolled as the garden of England but the county of Surrey where we have our office is rightfully the home of some of the best gardens in the British Isles. A brief glance at many a best gardens list and Surrey gardens will often appear.

The best known are the large gardens opened by organisation such as the Royal Horticultural Society and National Trust. The former’s RHS Garden Wisley is rightfully one of the most visited in the country. It can at first glance seem a mix of botanical garden with ‘features’ thrown in but after many visits you understand that this garden stands apart as both scientific collection and centre as well as giving inspiration season by season. If you have limited space in your own garden this is a great place to see how borders can be designed to give year round interest. Or if you’re interested in a specific species then you’ll likely get something from a particular area. A top tip, check out the orchards in the spring when they blossom, its an oasis from the crowds that hover down in the main body of the garden.

The National Trust is well represented in Surrey as well. Clandon Park, a Palladian mansion is set in 7 acres of garden, Claremont however os probably more widely known. Claremont is a beautiful garden surrounding a small lake and featuring an unusual grass amphitheatre. The garden’s creation and development has involved great names in garden history, including Sir John Vanbrugh, Charles Bridgeman, William Kent and ‘Capability’ Brown. In 1726 it was described as ‘the noblest of any in Europe’ and the garden today is of national importance. For something more subdued Runnymede is the riverside site of the sealing of the Magna Carta, historically significant with one of the few easily accessible designs of Jellicoe.

These gardens are significant and you can sometimes get inspiration from them, especially for planting but if you want some ideas for smaller gardens than a year of visiting the Surrey gardens open under the National Gardens Scheme is well worth a try. They won’t always be to your liking but some will strike a chord. Small gardens such as Stuart Cottage in East Clandon, Heathside in Cobham, Walton Poor House in Ranmore and Chinthurst Lodge near Guildford are all interesting for the plantaholic in you. Vann in Hambledon and Cleeves near Haslemere are Surrey gardens worth a look for their design ideas for older buildings. And there are other gardens such as Timber Hill near Chobham, a garden that glories in fine trees as well as great planted borders.

And of course these Surrey gardens are all owned by enthusiastic gardeners so it’s always good to go back and see what has happened over the years. A garden such as that at The Round house in Loxhill is constantly evolving often, in this case because of an owner gradually creating a new garden from once neglected market gardens. So the National Gardens Scheme gardens in Surrey are well worth an exploration but be prepared to be both delighted and exasperated. They are private gardens, created by their keen owners, not you, so don’t be surprised if occasionally you see the plants you’re not so keen on. But from experience these gardens will also turn you on to new plants and new ideas that you can twist for your own uses!

Of course we don’t all want the maintenance that is so often involved with these gardens that open for the public. Sometimes it’s good to just see what other people are creating and revel in the seasonal colour whilst going back to our own simpler gardens where we can manage the changes in our gardens. If that’s the case don’t forget about the many resources in the county. Of course many of the gardens mentioned above will sell you some great plants and in the case of some you’ll find something unusual to impress your friends. The other thing you will find in abundance are garden designers for Surrey supports a profession second to none drawn by the great climate, an eager audience and a network of great nursery and landscape suppliers. Looking out of the window of my office it’s almost impossible not to see a local landscape van pass by every hour!