Country Garden Plants for an English Garden Style

Ilona Erwin

Country Flowers For American Gardens

Colorful Blooms In The English Style

Why “country garden” plants? What denotes a country rather than urban plant?

If I were to write the definition for the comparison, it would center around the amount of care and attention a plant needs, and whether it has strong visual impact for its size. Country gardens tend to be large, further from the doorstep, and looser in feeling. So for a simpler, yet abundant, feeling these plantings will maximize visual impact for the effort. Open spaces often mean less shelter from the elements, so a plant will need to be sturdy, and not easily damaged by winds; an abundantly flowering plant that is capable of giving the good show required by the English garden style.

Country garden plants:

  • a plant that has visual presence
  • sturdy growth
  • abundant flowering
  • lower maintenance needs

Why not try a few motifs that might prove to create interesting features in our gardens? Or even incorporate one as an entire theme for your garden.

English Garden Meadows Bursting With Flowers

A patch of meadow….

What is more English than a country meadow? A heath, perhaps, but for most of us, it is the meadow garden that can replicate something of a an English style feature. Represented by the garden in St. Mary de Haura, of New Shoreham. This is how I picture the English countryside, but not everyone has a large expanse of garden….what then?

Medieval ground cover, or a small herbal lawn, could make a garden mead bench when grown in a raised bed created from simple lumber boards strapped or nailed together.

A mass of dainty flowers like something from a Medieval tapestry, maybe inside a “Mead” raised bed might give you just the flavor you are looking for. In a formal arrangement with some box shrubs for accent, this could be a wonderful entryway design. A meadow in a box is a very accessible garden feature.

fragrant wildflower mix

A little information about the Middle Ages mead.

“Turfed seats were a major feature of ‘gardens of pleasure’.”

See the Plant List for an English meadow

American plantings for the English meadow:

All the plants listed are well able to compete with each other, although a little more care to create a protective space for dianthus might be needed. Grow your mead seat in sun.

The Country Cottage

Old fashioned abundance of perennials….

This is what we all picture when thinking of Britain’s great gardens… a gorgeous array of perennials in large borders, or an overflowing Cottage garden. Both large and small contain an arrangement of spires, mounds, and weaving plants growing to varied heights in harmonious color choices.

The plants suggested here are a representative sample of what you could grow in your garden, choices depend on your climate and growing conditions.

Plant list for a flower border

American plantings for the English flower border:

The above named flowers are available on Amazon:

London Courtyards With Urns of Flowers

Pots of annual flowers

…massed for an English style effect

This is an easy design idea to incorporate into any plan. The English style garden often has accents of potted plants. Some of the prettiest examples of flowering pots are used to flank steps, or gates. Dramatic focal points use large pots, alone or filled with one exciting planting of an avalanche of blooms. In smaller gardens an array of pots filled with any favorites that the gardener loves can become a “border” of flowers in themselves. Just remember that in the climate of much of America’s continent, containers can dry out quickly and need regular watering. Regular watering is the one secret to lush growing beautiful flowering containers. Keep that in mind when adding flowering containers to your design.

What Makes English Garden Style?

Suggested annuals to fill your containers

American plantings for the English style containers:

More ideas for container plants, recipes to try.

A book I think is fabulous for creating your containers is P. Allen Smith’s Container Gardens: 60 Container Recipes to Accent Your Garden

A Tudor Knot Garden

Herb Garden Fragrance

Herb Garden for Fragrance

Herb Garden for Fragrance

Think of herbs and it isn’t long before English gardens and Tudor Knot gardens come to mind, but the precise knot gardens were manicured by a troop of professional gardeners. That style wouldn’t give a “country” feeling at all, even if one might wish to shoulder the maintenance work. Not a suitable style choice for most of us, with our busy schedules and gardening staff of one.

There are other forms of herb gardens with an English garden look, and we can simply combine the plants our own way, too. The one characteristic to keep is to make sure the beds are filled to overflowing with creeping, mounding, spired, and vining herb plants. This is not hard to accomplish given the many beautiful herb garden varieties of plants available.

The Physic garden, with blocks of the same plant in regular rows, or a loosely planted Bee garden, arranged on an axis and surrounding a center feature such as a fountain, decorative bee skep, or a small side bench to watch the busy bee visitors, from a nice distance of course.

Herb Garden Styles

Country Style Essentials

The list below includes some essentials for a country style garden.

Some Tudor Herbal Plantings

American plantings for the English country herb garden:

Graceful Climbers and Clamberers
An arbor, a trellis or columns laced with a climbing plant or vine gives just the right amount of detail and grace to an entryway or to soften the line of a fence.

photo by Sue Hasker
American plantings to give English grace to doors and fences:

  • ‘New Dawn’ Rose
  • Clematis, many varieties– but especially Clematis montana
  • Wisteria
  • Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’
  • Honeysuckle,Lonicera sempervirens
  • Lathyrus latifolius

To pull your plants together in a way that gives an impression of a real English garden, look for inspiration within the pages of the following topics,

English Style Gardens, Style Notes, and the English Cottage Garden.

And once you are finished with the designing and planting, I can’t imagine a more pleasant spot to put a beautiful garden bench. Like the one Lutyens designed for Gertrude Jekyll designed English gardens, for instance!

Climbers at Monticello

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.