Formal garden style?

lavender_lass(4b)November 7, 2011

I know we talked about this last year, but does anyone have a more 'formal garden style' forum, they like to visit? I need some ideas for my kitchen garden and the potager forum doesn't have that much traffic.

If anyone here has ideas, please let me know. I'm trying to decide what to do with the end of the garden, closest to the bench. We hadn't planned on the table and chairs, but we love sitting there in the evening, so we decided to expand the kitchen garden and added this bench and a few more arches (you know how I love these arches LOL).

We can't decide if we want four small beds, with grass paths between them...or a round bed with a focal point. We like the idea of the round bed (very 1920s) but can't decide if we need some kind of paths to access it. Maybe just some stepping stones? Any ideas?

Here are a few pictures...

The new bench (I love the little bells). We're thinking about planting some lilacs behind this part of the garden, to get some privacy from the road. We have lots of lilac starts, from the big hedge, by the old farmhouse. From Lavender's Garden

The view of the garden, from the new bench. The white pot is supposed to be where we put the focal point, but the barn kitties keep rubbing up against it! From Lavender's Garden

A view from the fairy garden, looking past the honeysuckle on the arch :) From Lavender's Garden

I just took this photo out the window, looking past the fairy garden, towards the kitchen garden. The purple bucket is the focal point (it now has a big rock in the bottom, so it doesn't move) and you can see the arches. The end of the garden will curve on either side, from the arches to the new bench, which follows the topography a bit. You probably can't see it from this picture, but this area used to be the corral, which accounts for the curve :) From Lavender's Garden

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natal(Louisiana 8b)

LL, I'm confused. From all the pictures you've posted I've yet to see actual gardens, just arches and a table and chairs. You've been talking about these gardens for a couple years, but where are they?

Btw, those golden trees are gorgeous.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:16PM
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Natal- I'm sorry if my camera doesn't pick up enough detail, but there are beds on both sides of the arbor and perimeter beds on three sides. The fourth side ended up being where we added the table and chairs.

In the third picture, if you look carefully, you can see the birdbath, under the arch...that's a big bed with shrubs and perennials. In the second picture, along the back (behind the arbor and on either side) are purple raspberries, strawberries, bee balm, blueberries, daisies, salvia, coneflowers, etc. This time of year, it's hard to make them out, because most plants are dying back.

Since I'm trying to get answers for the overall structure of a big garden, I was trying to post pictures that showed the entire garden...which has gotten pretty big! I thought I posted some of these on the potager forum...but here are some pictures from spring and summer.

These are from can see the potentillia on the corners of the bed and the pots of pentunias. Very small broccoli and cauliflower plants are planted behind the zinnias and marigolds, to keep the deer out. From Lavender's Garden

Here's the bird bath garden in the spring...with more potentillia (which the deer won't eat) and some small flowers. If you look carefully, you can see blueberry plants in the background. From Lavender's Garden

Here's a shot from later in the summer...look how big the cabbage and broccoli are getting! The potentillias are now blooming and you can see more flowers (especially the cosmos and zinnias) under the birdbath. There's also dill on either side of the arch and you can start seeing the clematis, climbing up each post on the arbor. From Lavender's Garden

Here's a few more close-ups of the garden, with the dill and cosmos. From Lavender's Garden From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:36PM
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I forgot to add that if we do the round bed, it would be about 11' across. If we did the four beds, they'd be about 4' x 6' each, with paths a little more than 3'.

The overall garden was about 35' x 45' before the that might be one reason it's hard to see details in some of the pictures. It also explains why I'm always weeding! LOL There is also a lot of grass, but I wanted big paths that my husband could mow with the riding mower, for the most part. It's a beautiful place to sit and look at the view...while still growing fruit, veggies, herbs and flowers :)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 2:45PM
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Merilia(8 PNW)

I can't help you find a different forum to visit, but I have pretty much the same reaction as Natal. I think perhaps it's a problem of scale? Your plants barely even show up amidst the vast expanse of grass, and the structures you've added overpower them. If it were my garden, I would think about pulling the garden into a much smaller space, and then adding a some height to it. At the very least, I would surround the garden with a hedge, if I were going for anything even remotely formal looking. Those arches and the pergola you've got are just begging to have climbers grown over them. Once your garden is well defined, you could continue to add height by using topiaries, narrow conifers, rose standards, sculptures, and things like that to keep with your formal theme.

Speaking of which, when I think of a formal garden, I think of certain more formal plants like box, yew, roses, hydrangeas, etc--plants that make a strong impact--combined with massed colors of bedding plants. I adore airy looking perennials, but in a formal garden they look weedy to me. Adding herbs and veggies to the mix pushes it even further away from what I would consider formal style.

My own gardening tastes aren't formal at all, and I wonder if maybe yours aren't really either. I think you can make use of your lovely benches and arches in a much more informal style that I think will suit your plant preferences better, based on what I have seen you post.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Merilia- I like the structure of a formal design, because I think it contrasts nicely, with the wilderness around us. In a kitchen garden or potager, the formal structure balances the chaos often seen in vegetable gardens. The vertical elements are also important, because they offer areas for vines (edible and non-edible) to grow and bring in a much needed third-dimension to the garden. So many gardens stand about 2'-3' tall, without trees or large shrubs, which often provide too much shade in a vegetable garden.

I'm not really showing off the plants, but trying to get ideas about the garden layout. The idea of a kitchen garden, is to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers together, often in a formal layout. So, the purpose of the garden is to really provide food, with some flowers mixed in that are edible or decorative.

While I'd love to include some roses or hydrangeas, they're both 'deer candy' in our area. Boxwood is not hardy here and yews are quite poisonous to the horses. I can't grow azaleas or rhodedendrons, for the same reason. So far, the deer haven't bothered the blueberries too much (but they're still pretty small) and the purple raspberries are mixed in with bee keep the deer out.

Since we just started digging out this garden last May, it's going to be a while, before the shrubs and fruit are large enough to be seen, from a distance. The clematis will eventually grow over the arbor, which will provide some much needed shade, for the seating area :)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:40PM
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Merilia(8 PNW)

I may have gotten confused when you mentioned "formal garden style" because I associate that with a lot more than simply having a geometric layout for the beds.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:23PM
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No's more of a potager/kitchen garden question, but there just aren't many people on that forum. Thanks for the response and let me know if you have any ideas about the round bed vs. the four smaller beds :)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:23PM
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Merilia(8 PNW)

Maybe you could do a kind of hybrid between the two? I found this image on google which isn't exactly what I was thinking but I am sure you get the idea...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 8:23PM
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pat_tea(PNW, Van,WA)

Lavender, I think you just need to define your beds by edging them in stone or plants. When I visited the Fort Vancouver Heritage Garden I was impressed with how the kitchen gardens were edged with herbs. Could you cut out a circle for your table and fill it with gravel then do your beds in the squares around it. I have also seen an artichoke used for the center focal point for a kitchen garden. Have fun designing. . . tis the season for us gardeners to sit with pen, paper, computer, magazines, books to dream our way toward next Spring.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 9:35PM
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Lavender, I can see that I'll have to dredge up the photos I took in Ireland of some big gardens there.

The path ways are important for more than one reason: they DEFINE THE SPACE. And you need some definition of the shapes you are creating. Make sure you also frame your views through your arbors.

Can you make a spot for EDIBLE FLOWERS? I think they will be very popular with the younger generation, because my granddaughters all love to grab a few nasturtiums when they are blooming....before the aphids find them. And daylilies too. And squash blossoms!!!!

Oh yes. I meant to suggest that you do a search in your library for pictures of Monet's gardens at Giverny. They would be very helpful I'm sure. If I ever go to France, that is the place I want to see.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 10:11PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I agree with pat_tea. The cheapest, simplest way to get your garden looking more formal would be to edge the beds properly. There is too little distinction between beds and the rough grass. It doesn't need to be stone or plants. A simple vertical sided v shaped slit will define the edges neatly. Use a string and pegs to make it straight and a spade or edging iron to cut it. I also agree that you need more vertical accents such as shrubs or climbers on structures. At the moment it is very flat and the garden is lost in the background grass. The structure of the garden needs to be established before plants are even thought about. Even when completely empty a garden should still have structure.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 4:18AM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Considering the space I would go with one large bed with a few paths between. You could use grass as the paths or mulch. I personally would use mulch in that area so hubby doesn't have to try and mow in between the beds. Making that one large bed will make it stand out better and your arches will fit the area.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 4:58AM
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Merilia- That's a really good idea! Thanks for the picture and it solves the problem with the paths :)

Pat tea- Yes, I definitely need edging. I plan to put in an edger to keep the grass out, but edging the beds themselves, with herbs or flowers is an excellent idea.

ML- I'd love to see Monet's garden, too. Edible flowers are a great idea and nasturtiums do well in our area. I do have a pretty view, when you look through the new arbors, of three trees at the end of the pasture.

Flora- I absolutely need to edge the beds. I've finished the front garden beds and half the fairy garden. Next year I have to finish that and edge the kitchen garden. I agree with you on the structure and so far, I only have some small clematis planted on the arbor and a few of the arches. As they and the shrubs get larger, I'm hoping they'll give the garden more year round structure.

Chohio- I think you and my husband are in complete agreement, on that one! He'd rather have some kind of path that doesn't have to be mowed, too. LOL I'm thinking about a mixture of gravel/stepping stones, so it's easy to walk on and provides a nice contrast with all the green.

As for the table and chairs...that's temporary and supposed to go in another part of the yard. We moved it over to the kitchen garden, because the views are so nice...but I hope to get a black metal table and chairs (with cushions) next spring.

I didn't really plan on using black in the garden, it just evolved with my 'clearance' arches and arbors...but I think they look nice with the pine trees, in the background...and they really stand out, when it snows :)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 5:33PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

hi Lavender,
as I look at your spot I can see two large diamond shapes in that area with about 3ft. between the points (in my mind) but then I am always the one who likes the unexpected! Have you ever considered arborvitaes?apparently there are all types, and from what I could find they arent poisonous, and are very cold hardy, and some can be kept in a clipped hedge form.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 1:09PM
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Diamonds are such a cool idea! Arborvitas are a wonderful choice, but the deer like to chew on they wouldn't last long. My mom uses them a lot at her house in town and they make a great background to her other shrubs and flowers.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 5:38PM
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Have you ever heard of Villandry?

That is just a few photos, but Villandry was a large part of the inspiration for my own garden. The idea being, a formal layout and pretty much the most awesome potager around, but a lot of the plantings within the formal structure were a lot looser. I didn't see a photo of the huge sprawling pumpkin vines that I remember vividly from my one visit there. ;)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 5:52PM
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I have seen pictures of Villandry, but not the sprawling pumpkin vines. I would love to grow Cinderella pumpkins, but my frost free season is not quite long enough. That doesn't mean I don't try, though :)

Do you have photos of your garden? I'd like to see them...and if you already posted them...can you post them again? I think formal structure with looser plantings is a wonderful combination!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 7:42PM
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pat_tea(PNW, Van,WA)

Yes, yes, yes, Irene, please do show us your gardens. What you describe is more what I am striving for as well. Lavender, isn't it fun to get ideas from forum folks. I love all the ideas here. We can take them and add our own twist to them. Love, love, love cottage gardens.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:14PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I also believe what is missing is structure. If you have permanent paths or raised beds, then that will give some formality. I think a big step would be to either line the beds (wood, stone or brick, etc) or delineate the paths with gravel or wood mulch. In your location, the plants compete with the grass.

If you were going to do a circular bed that was 11 feet in diameter, I would most definitely cut into quadrants with a defined path. Another alternative could be several round beds. Below I am linking to a potager that served as an inspiration for the extension I am making for my potager. The majority of my beds are linear (as is my house) so I like the softness the curves add.

One of the drawbacks to circular beds though is getting them situated right. If attempting a formal lay out, if the placement is off, it will be visible. The first circular bed we did was not as difficult as DH centered it within what was the first portion and drew it out. Since the other 3 circles were being done in an "addition" getting their locations correct in relation to what we had in place was somewhat more complicated. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Round beds in potager

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Because you live in the wide open countryside that has BIG trees and BIG hills and mountains, etc, I would offer that you need larger plants in your garden as well. Plant things that are native in your area, evergreens and deciduous, so that there is year-round garden structure that defines your garden borders. Your garden structures would look nice if they blended into that BIG view, defined by color and texture (if that makes any sense).

I think a wagon-wheel design would look awesome. It would go with your ranch and the surrounding countryside and yet could easily be made formal by the types of plants you choose.

Formal gardens are often defined with large evergreens, neatly trimmed and shaped. They are the bare-bones of formal landscapes above anything else. Large deciduous shrubs, roses, flowering shrubs, and ornamental trees make great accents, as well as adding texture and color. Keep edging plants in symmetrical and uniformly trimmed. Focal plants need to be bigger and taller because of the scale with your scenic views all around. Flowers, Veggies and Herbs can then be planted in the beds, symmetrically or asymmetrically.

Grass paths must be well-manicured in the Formal Garden. They look fantastic when edged with bricks (at least two rows high) or quarried rock, uniform in shape, color and size. Evergreen shrubs, like boxwood, junipers or yews inside those edges create the basic design of your formal garden.

Symmetrically planted tall evergreens near the entrances and at corners of your garden state that this garden is Formal. Sturdy metal fences or thick rock walls and rock pillars are often found surrounding the formal garden. Whether you go formal or not, you need big plants and trees to define your garden and anchor it to the surrounding natural landscape that is so immense.

Because of the expense of the bare-bones landscape plants and structures, most people often go with Informal gardens, but it can be done if you are patient, even if you are on a budget.

I must say, I found some of the comments above very offensive in nature. There is a big difference between critiquing and criticizing. She asked for suggestions for creating a Formal Garden, not rude comments. I'm just saying...
Good God!

I'm going to go watch the news now - they are talking about the Earthquakes we're having daily now here in Oklahoma. Want to hear what they are saying.

Best wishes Sweetie. I know you can create your dream garden. It'll be beautiful.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 11:32PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I agree with Annie. If some of the above comments had been made to me in my newbie garden years I'm not sure I would have re-visited this form...

-LL, I think you are doing a FANTASTIC job with your garden! Everyone goes about gardening differently. You are one that likes to draw up a plan and then step back and re-assess. Wish I would have adopted that policy in my early days of gardening!! So much better to plan and plan again than do something without thinking it all the way thru and regret it later on (*ahem*! like the shade garden I made under the front tree a couple years ago, LOL!!!).

I say go with your gut! Only you know what you love and what you don't. Maybe making a list and comparing various elements you see in a Formal style garden would help? Then you could check the ones you like and then go from there.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 3:31PM
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Annie and CMK- You gals are wonderful and I appreciate that you're looking out for me...but I think everyone here is trying to help and probably doesn't mean for it to seem like anything, but constructive criticism. Thanks for the kind words, though :)

I think one of the major challenges is doing this garden...without a fence. There aren't that many shrubs and evergreens that are deer resistant. I could use lilacs...but then I wouldn't see the view. I guess the garden has evolved into a pretty place to sit in the evening and enjoy the outdoors, while still offering some fruits, herbs, veggies and flowers.

While the deer do limit some of my choices, I wouldn't want them to not visit the garden. They are part of why I like living out here and if they were wouldn't be the same. If we ever plan to grow corn, I'll have to fence in an area and make a smaller garden, maybe on the other side of the house. That is a project for down the for now, my mom grows a little corn, for me :)

Believe it or not, it is possible to grow broccoli, lettuce, beans and many other 'deer candy' foods, as long as there are a bunch of zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and other annuals that the deer don't like. I've also found that bee balm and other herbs can keep them out of some of the berries, but I haven't been brave enough to try asparagus. That may have to go in the fenced garden, too!

Thank you all for your suggestions and ideas. I really appreciate it...and Merilia, I think a scaled down version of your plan is what we'll end up edging the beds and maybe some lilacs, behind the new bench. I don't mind losing the view of the road! LOL

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Tall ornamental grasses would work well with the tall evergreens, too and look awesome with your beautiful trees and grassy slopes.

I just bought some terra cotta pots at WalMart today. One is an Olive Oil pot (urn shaped) and the other is kettle shaped, both in terra cotta red with handles. Gorgeous! They regularly sold for $35 and $75. I got them for only $5 each. I like the Mediterranean look and want to change everything over to reflect that style here on my ranch. I want to go back and get one of the large urns and make a bubbling water fountain as a focal element set against the terraced bank down in the patio garden. I already have a small submersible pump and tubing. The only other thing I would need is couple of bags of sand and a bag of smooth river rocks in various sizes and colors.

Now that I'm older and have more income to play with, I want to gradually convert my informal gardens into a more formal setting. I want to build a big, round, formal above-ground fish pond edged with quarry stones on the upper terrace (where the White Garden is now) with tall columnar junipers leading the eye up the hill. The quarry stones will be wide enough to sit on them. I want more linear paths edged in red used bricks with low growing, well-clipped hedges, and do away with the meandering paths and garden design which are so hard for me to keep neat and manicured. Straight paths are so much easier to mow and keep trimmed and edged.

I want year-round seating up near the fish pond where I can sit and enjoy Nature all year round. That is my dream and I think I can do it now.

Best wishes on following your dreams.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 7:41PM
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LL - I think it's been ages since I've posted any photos here. I had to go find a few to upload to flickr - hopefully, this will work! I didn't quickly find any of pumpkins overflowing their bounds, alas. As it happens, I didn't make my potager areas nearly as big as the ones at Villandry, so they really aren't big enough to contain full-size pumpkin vines. Hopefully these few photos will sort of give you an idea, tho it seems like I didn't take many photos of everything huge from far away. Lately, I've been doing more detailed shots.

One of the entire garden from 2009 (I've since added the 6th box to the potager)

This past March, showing how it still has interest in winter:

And one of my favorite shots, tho I'm not sure it really illustrates what I'm talking about!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 6:07PM
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Irene- What are those tall daisy flowers? Those are beautiful :)

I like your's so well designed and very pretty. What are the shrubs, on the other side of the fence? Your raised garden boxes are great...I think that's what I need to do (or something similar) in my potager area. How wide are your grass paths?

Annie- Tall grasses do look nice in gardens...but I think the deer would chew on those, too. After reading your post, I think I need to take a trip to Walmart this weekend! (LOL) Your Mediterranean garden will be so pretty! I always think of the garden in "Under the Tuscan Sun" and how beautiful that was...what a lovely way to enjoy your views and the fish pond is a wonderful idea!

Well, we finally got some snow last night...and it's snowing now, too. In between storms, I went out and picked up the arches that blew over with all the wind we had, last night. Even my arch over the birdbath blew over (which never happens) but my little clematis somehow escaped any damage. It's still on the arch, but luckily, I planted it about a foot from the arch, so it didn't break.

Anyway, I took this as a sign and decided to take out the two new arches and use one, instead, in the middle of the garden. I lined it up with the new bench and decided I will fence in this part of the garden. That will give me one area where the deer won't be munching...and maybe I can even grow some corn! It's going to be a lot more work, since we'll be taking out almost all the grass...but I think it will be worth it.

Here's a quick pic...the arch is crooked, since the ground has started to freeze and that's as far as I can push it in. Notice the chairs are all blown around! It's 18' from the arch, to the front of the bench. From Lavender's Garden

I hope this thread has given others some ideas about combining formal and informal, for a rather unique look. Potagers can be so much fun and I think they make vegetable gardens look a bit more romantic :)

Oh, here's my extra I have a very happy Bleu Magenta rose, that is no longer trying to find something to use for support. It really took off the last few months and the top half is still green leaves! From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 7:00PM
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LL, Rereading your posts, it sounds like you are really wanting a Formal Pottager, rather than a formal cottage garden.

Below is a LINK showing a Formal Cottage Garden, akin to what I am going to attempt to do in my back yard.

I will see what else I can find to post for anyone interested.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Gold Garden at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, ENG.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:03AM
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Another LINK:

Here is a link that might be useful: Easy-Care Formal-Style Cottage Garden / BHG

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:08AM
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Here is a quote from a site I found regarding Formal Garden Designing:

"Formal Garden Design
A formal garden may seem intimidating, but if this is the style you like, you've got to realize it isn't that difficult. There are several easy landscaping ideas to help you establish and maintain a formal look. Keep your flowers and shrubs trim and contained inside clearly delineated flower beds.

To design a new flower bed, measure it out and mark the edges before you dig. If you are using straight edges, use stakes and strings to guide your shovel. If the bed is curved, lay out your garden hose as a guide.

Dig your sod out of the flower bed carefully, and add new soil into the bed when you've removed all the grass. Keep the grass trim and weed free, and invest in landscape edging to maintain that formal look to your lawn. Add mulch around your plants afterward to keep in moisture and discourage weeds.

Think about adding some height with formal looking arbors, trellises and gates. Wrought iron and brick are traditional choices in formal gardens for fences and walkways. Traditional sculptures or furniture can help complete the look.

Plants suitable for a formal garden look include many small shrubs that can be trimmed regularly to maintain their shape. Repeat shapes... if you have a walkway, flank each side with identical plantings.

Look for boxwood shrubs, tall cedars or junipers, and lavender make good pathway plants. Coleus can be added here and there for color variations. Carefully trimmed roses on arbors can add some color and height."

Here is a link that might be useful: Back Yard Landscape Ideas

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:13AM
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See how shrubs, potted plants or potted urns are repeated or echoes throughout the garden? This is the telltale mark of the formal look.

Here is a link that might be useful: Formal Cottage Garden - Living Color

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:20AM
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In this one, Olive trees, Boxwood and Liriope are almost mirrored in each section, with the formal paths quartering the garden, so that each section is the same dimension and shape.
Other plants within each section can be vary or even be completely different, but the basic landscape, the hard landscape is repeated in a Formal Garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Formal Garden style #4

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:29AM
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This one would work perfectly for your garden and surrounding countryside, using your metal arches and etc.
You could use your Lilac bushes and/or Forsythia shrubs, allowing a clear view of those beautiful native trees on the hill behind.

Just a few ideas.
Hope these 5 ideas help.


Here is a link that might be useful: Perfect style for your garden

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:39AM
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LL - Thanks! Those little white flowers are boltonia, which are related to asters. I think they are pretty hardy, and the deer haven't bothered them so far (iirc - if they have, it was pretty minimally). They get about 4-6 feet tall for me, depending on the year and how much sun they get, and bloom in the fall. The foliage stays pretty nice throughout the summer, too. The main issue is they can flop a lot in heavy wind, which we've been getting a lot lately, but otherwise they are pretty easy. They are the tall plants on the right in the winter photo, btw - I like to leave them up all winter. However, I'm not sure I'll ever get that clematis blooming exactly the same time as them again!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:20AM
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You all are giving me ideas again. I didn't make the round bed bordered with boxwood like I planned this year. Visiting those links just makes me want to start work right now - thanks alot Annie! Wish I had the ambition and energy for perennial borders like I used to. Irene - very nice.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 11:12AM
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I can't help you with a formal garden forum but I'm a huge fan of "google!"

From what I've seen of formal gardens some basic requirements are clean edges and symmetry. As far as the clean edges go it will be difficult with grass paths - I know this as I've tried to do it and the grass encroaches faster than I can cut it back. I'm seriously thinking the only way is to use chemicals and totally eliminate the grass next to beds and have mulched paths there. Cutting grass edges twice a year in a large garden is a lot of work.

Considering that you live on a large acreage, do not have gardening staff, and seem to like cottage gardens I wonder if a modified formal cottage garden would be best. Use the clean edges (however you can manage them), some symmetry by perhaps using your lavender or other plants as edging plants in shaped beds (square, triangular, or round) and paths between. A "formal potager garden" is a great way to do this.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 12:14PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

Irene, I dont think this is what you meant, i have seen a picture somewhere of the pumpkins, vines and all but everyone should take a look at the picture of Villandry at night with the candles!Magical!


Here is a link that might be useful: chateau de villandry

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 12:15PM
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Roseberri - The pumpkins look so tidy in that photo, compared to when they are on the vines! ;)

I do think my garden is a little unusual, tho more potager-like than anything else, since I'm trying to use geometry as the formal structure, but everything else is pretty informal. I do plant some of my veggies in rows, largely so I can identify them earlier, but also because I like how they look.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:24PM
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I just realized I didn't answer a couple of LL's questions. The shrubs on the right side of the fence (in the photos) we think are some sort of viburnum. The neighbor has chopped them down viciously and they grow back huge. I keep forgetting how big they get, even through my fence, so next spring I want to make that border much deeper and move everything further from the fence so I don't have to keep pruning it all back!

I think my grass paths between the veggie boxes are 3' - enough for a wheelbarrow. And when they get overgrown it can feel pretty crowded. I'm lucky enough to have landscapers to mow and edge. They only edge the main borders about once a year, however, but weedwack at the bases of the boxes. Dh keeps saying that when ds gets a little older, to make him mow the lawn, but I fear for my garden if he tries! I have a feeling I'd be ripping out the grass and putting something else in, probably wood chips, if we had to mow the lawn ourselves.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:32PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

your garden is very pretty, the boxes and straight lines give it some formality while the plants themselves give a more informal cottage like balance that I think is pleasing.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:59AM
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You have such incredible natural beauty, and "somehow" (don't ask me how!)I would try to incorporate into that, love Annie's idea of forsythias and lilacs, they would be gorgeous in your setting!!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 8:33PM
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Thank you all for the responses and links! We've been a little distracted (a car ran into our house Saturday night, after wrecking our vehicles) but the adjustors have been out and we're hoping everything will be fixable. No one was hurt and that's the most important thing!

Back to gardening...the silver lining in all this is that they completely took out our front porch and now I can move the steps over and have another garden on the front (south side) of the house. Finally, a place for tomatoes! :)

Trying our best to make lemons into lemonade, but I do think that everything will be fine. Now, I have plenty of ideas to contemplate over the winter (snow is falling as we speak) and be ready for gardening, next spring.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:16PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Lass, so glad no-one was hurt but you did put a smile on my face "Finally, a place for tomatoes!" Me thinks your mind works a lot like mine :).


    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 9:29PM
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Thanks, Annette :)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 2:55PM
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I just found another picture of the kitchen garden, from this summer. I think I didn't include it with the others, because you can see the price tag hanging off the new cushion on the arbor (LOL). The purple plants in the background are catmint...along with the daisies and cosmos...and you can see the zinnias and marigolds, in front of the arbor. Behind the catmint, is the edge of the pasture and the weeds/grass on the hill...that goes down to the pasture (too steep to mow and the butterflies and ladybugs love those weeds!) You can also see the farmhouse and the barns, in the background. From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 3:59PM
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Cool shot! I don't think I've ever seen one with the buildings in the background like that!

Glad to hear you are making lemonade - or tomatoes, at least, with that crash.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 4:30PM
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Irene- Thanks! :)

I usually take the pictures from the other show the creek and the horses. We always e-mail the pictures to our family and they want to see the horses! LOL

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 6:27PM
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Very pretty! Love the way you've lined up everything and the lovely natural setting - soft and pretty.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 9:32PM
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Well, the house is fixed and we have a new porch! The cute fairy bench (with bells) has been moved to the front of the house, for the new garden. We changed the stairs, so they face the road and that leaves me with a brand new garden, on the other side of the porch! :) From Truck hitting my house

So, this means I have to come up with something new, for the kitchen garden. The plan is to move the arch on the east side and put it on the south side, for the entrance into the new 'potager' section. Here's a quick sketch I did for the vegetable forum, but I ran out of room. There should be a few more feet on the 'right' south side, with the new arch and bed for vegetables and a few flowers. This will be the garden area for the nieces/nephews to 'help' in...and we'll probably be putting the hopscotch stones, in front of the blueberries, behind the arbor. And, still all the beds to edge...I'll be busy this summer! LOL From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 6:11PM
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spartangardener(z4 MN)

I agree that you need some big items (like big shrubs or trees) to define the space and dramatic edging if you plan to keep grass in the interior of the design. If you do keep grass, I think you'd want to keep it golf course-short so that it didn't compete with the plants. With what you have drawn, I'd at minimum put big items on the corners, or symmetrically placed in the ceneters of each long bed. Choose something you like that can be repeated, that will give you multiple season interest, and that won't swamp your beds or shade them too much. I googles deer-resistant shrubs and trees and found several items - you could see what works in your climate. My mom has crabapples and an apple orchard in an arrea that gets >100 deer in the immediate vicinity, but I don't know how they would do if they were the most appealing foodstuff in the area. If they work, might be a possibility. Me, I would lose the grass in the interior entirely, and also look for some perennials and shrubs that grow more than 3 feet tall to intersperse with the rest.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Spartan- I don't want to block the view, so that's one reason the shrubs are short. A fruit tree on the corners would be nice, but deer do eat them down, especially when they're young. I do have some Italian plums and some apple trees, in other areas of the yard. Two of the plum trees are now a small garden. From Lavender's Garden

And here's a picture of the apple tree, from last fall. The apples are so tasty and no worms, at least not so far :) From Lavender's Garden

Here's a picture of the apple tree, from further back, covered with snow. From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 4:07PM
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spartangardener(z4 MN)

If you want a formal look, something like an espalier would give you height and structure without blocking your view.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 9:42AM
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