Taking Inspiration from Arts and Crafts Gardens

Hidcote Manor Garden

Garden design is a very individual thing. One person's ideal garden may be another person's nightmare. What works well in the north of Scotland will obviously be less than ideal on the south coast of England, and vie versa. While it is important to take individual tastes, needs and locations into account, however, it is also useful to borrow elements from successful garden designs of the past. Incorporating a certain style ethos in your garden can really help to synthesize your ideas and bring the whole thing together.

The aim is not to slavishly follow a certain style. Rather, the aim is to take inspiration from the ideas that have been popular in the past, thinking about how they have worked, and why. One interesting garden style that was popular in the early 20th Century is the Arts and Crafts Garden. Here are some tips of how to incorporate elements of the Arts and Crafts Style in your own garden at home:

Hidcote garden roomsGarden Rooms

Arts and Crafts Gardens encouraged informal perennial planting within a formal and more rigid setting. The planting schemes were set out to achieve a series of 'garden rooms' – an idea that fits in very well with modern ideas on outdoors living. Even in a small garden you can incorporate the idea of having a series of different sections that lead one to another and give a feeling of revelation as you make your way down the garden.

Hidcote perennial borderWide Perennial Borders

In the Arts and Crafts period, perennial borders took over from the borders of exotic bedding plants that were popular in the Victorian era. Wider borders give a sense of generosity and depth. Perennials are great for modern, busy lives, requiring far less work and upkeep than annual beds and today, edible perennials can offer a chance for better, more ethical living with little effort on the part of the home owner.

Hidcote pergolaArtisanal Features

Successful gardens are often very well rooted into the place where they are located. Using some native planting can help your garden to sit easily in its environment. Features popular in Arts and Crafts gardens such as stone walls, rustic benches, wooden gazebos and pergolas carefully hand-crafted by local craftsmen can also help give a garden a distinctive local feel, especially when local techniques and materials are skilfully employed.

While few of us will copy one of the great Arts and Crafts gardens in every respect, there is certainly much that is inspiring about this form of garden design. Why not see which elements you might be able to include where you live.