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What’s your garden style?

Formal Gardens -Château de Villandry

From Formal to Cottage to Tropical, the list goes on and on, to … never thought about it. With so many garden trends to choose from, have you ever thought about your garden style?

Some get excited going to the garden store, seeing a plant and think “why not.”  But with a little bit of planning, you can go from chaotic and choppy to relaxing and calm. Knowing your garden style will make your space visually coherent. While there is no right or wrong, as soon as you know what features make each style unique, it will be easier for you to mix and match elements to make your own.

Formal Gardens

Formal Gardens – with one color choice Château de Villandry

Let’s start with Formal gardens which rely on symmetry and balance and are usually well defined in structure and plant choice. They depend heavily on green leafy plants, hardscaping in the form of paths with pea gravel, hedges and topiary style trees whether in pots or in ground. When flowering plants are included they are usually restricted to one or two color choices.  Some plants to consider would be Japanese Blueberry, Lemon Cypress, Mint Julep Juniper, Eugenea and Cotoneaster.

Cottage Gardens

Winding Paths with fragrant flowers

Cottage gardens often have large drifts of flowers with different textures, colors and fragrances, and can greet you as you enter with wandering butterflies and bees. They are personal gardens with little rules to follow. Winding paths seem to keep secrets until you discover them – like hidden benches in little nooks tucked away until the path presents it to you.  

Adding a bit of structure and surrounding it with flowers is another way to get this look.  Structure can come in the way of arbors and trellis with vines, even trees, when taller will give you a place to sit

Arbor over fence gate with Mandevilla vine on trellis

under. Small furniture like a bistro set under trees are a welcome way to have meals, sip some iced tea or just gaze and relax. When hardscaping, a winding walkway is better. It allows you to slow down and take notice of the plants as you pass by. Some vines to consider are Mandavilla, Coral Honeysuckle and StarJasmine. You can add some structure by adding trees like Ligustrum (always check to see how much space you have, think about the tree when it’s fully grown, their root system and especially planting around pools). For flowers, try Lantana, Pentas, SalviaPlumbago. Don’t forget you can also mix in edibles such as rosemary and sage. Also, add any of the many available fountain grasses.  It really depends on what you like. 

Tropical Garden

Tropical Garden with some plant layering

For a more Tropical look, try some palms underplanted with begonias, you can try ferns or any list of tropical flowers, Philodendron Xanadu, Ti Sister, Coleus, and Firespike.  The one thing to remember is to work in layers, using the larger plants in the background.  

Take your time and plan your garden, using the Florida-Friendly Garden Rule. However, understand that garden will evolve, as will your taste in style. Just because you’ve chosen a garden style doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever. You can always change your mind and start incorporating plants to change themes.  Before you know it, you’ll be sipping some iced tea under the trees. 

For information on landscapes and gardening click here

Other Resources include include UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions – Types of Gardens

All photos taken by Author.