New Garden Styles Reveal Roots in Crafts and Arts Design

One of the intriguing style developments at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show was that the “new English” style of planting that we saw in series gardens such as the M&G Investments Garden by Andy Sturgeon. This new style has origins at the Arts and Crafts gardens which were so well known in the early part of the last century.

The English style has a traditional cottage garden texture but a fresher look. It utilizes recognizable elements of the original Arts and Crafts backyard — linear paths, terraces, tall and trimmed hedges backing broad herbaceous borders and daring topiary — but gives it a more modern twist. The plantings have moved away from the meadow style that gained influence during the last ten years and toward voluptuous boundaries with repetitive clumps of perennials that soften the outlines of paths and walls.

The Arts and Crafts movement was championed by brothers Charles and Henry Greene in America, while here in Britain, Gertrude Jekyll was its best-known urge. The movement was not long lived, but there is no doubt that it’s greatly influenced garden design not just Britain, but also in America and beyond.

HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

Integrating the home with the backyard. For the very first time in garden design history, Arts and Crafts integrated the home with the backyard. Design features in the home were reflected in the backyard and vice versa.

The Arts and Crafts style, especially in the gardens of Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens, that were at the forefront of this movement in the late 19th century and early 20th century in England, is characterized by using classic materials and working techniques that cause a natural completeness of the design.

Schmechtig Landscapes

The arrival of this garden room. The movement introduced the creation of different garden rooms, providing each part of the backyard a different texture.

The excellent British gardens of the era — at Hidcote Manor, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter — have partitioned regions of the bigger garden which have distinct planting schemes, ornamentals, water features or hard landscaping.

One of the most stunning planting ideas championed by the Arts and Crafts designers was using monochromatic plantings, together with white gardens being the favored.

Paul Moon Design

The British Arts and Crafts movement grew from contempt for the restricting philosophies of Victorian garden layout. Geometric bedding plant schemes, winding paths and exotic plants have been replaced by an interest in nostalgic ideals from medieval times and a return to regionalism and craftmanship.

This small formal area at a bigger garden echoes the proper side of their movement’s designs, with ideas taken from knot gardens and parterres used in medieval gardens. Well-placed ornaments, such as this two-tiered bowl fountain which complements rather than overshadows the room, were embellishments.

The return of topiary. The backyard rooms were created by enclosing regions with walls or, more often, hedging. The movement gave impetus to the planting of conventional hedging such as yew (Taxus baccata) and boxwood (Buxus sp). This usage of hedging brought the return of topiary.

Topiary, having dropped from favor for the best aspect of a hundred decades, was resurrected by the Arts and Crafts movement.

Susan Cohen Associates, Inc..

This modern backyard indicates the amazing use of hedges of distinct species and peaks, from the minimal boxwoodmattress edging into the tall formal enclosing hedges.

Its layout has its origins in Edwardian gardens, where the powerful lines of enclosing hedges and walls have been softened by thoughtful plantings which were allowed to overspill their borders.

Maria Hickey & Associates Landscapes

The flair of cottage garden planting. Planting schemes transferred away from Victorian restrictions and turned into a more realistic or cottage garden style. These plantings related to the site and soil conditions, the local identity and the way the plants grew naturally.

Plants have been developed in drifts and allowed to spill over edging and paths, with little obvious control. This look is that the image most people have of a classic English country garden.

Wallace Landscape Associates

From the tapestry style of planting, drifts of perennial plants were interwoven, providing months of colour from early spring to late fall. All these were very powerful but also very labour intensive. A large amount of staking and generating support for the bigger species was required, as well as dividing and replanting plants often to keep them flowering well.

Nowadays we can create the same effect without all the work utilizing modern dwarf or self-supporting varieties which don’t need a lot of maintenance.

Leo Dowell Designs

The use of claires-voies. Though normally found in gardens of the 17th century, the claire-voie (“clear way”) was also found in some Arts and Crafts gardens. A claire-voie is a openwork fence or gate set at the conclusion of an allée , or spacious walk with a view out to some wilder component of the landscape or garden.

There are two nice examples in Lawrence Johnson’s Hidcote Manor backyard. One is at the conclusion of a beech-lined (Fagus sylvatica) allée, and one contributes to the open Cotswold countryside by the conclusion of a pleached hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) walk.

David Ward

A great example of a claire-voie was seen at the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show at Cleve West’s Brewin Dolphin Garden. Ornamental gates involving rustic rock pillars led the eye into a conventional garden room supporting.

Celebrating local materials. The principles of utilizing local materials and hand crafting led to the popularization of brick paving. Locally made bricks can be found in lots of the original Arts and Crafts gardens, where they usually mirror the brickwork found in the adjoining home.

Herringbone and basket weave designs would be the most commonly utilized in paths, as seen in this gorgeous case, where the very same bricks are used in the wall as well.

Samuel H. Williamson Associates

This modern backyard design also utilizes brick paving, yet this time it encircles another favorite feature of Arts and Crafts designers — that the rill. Water features in Arts and Crafts gardens tended to be mild and understated. Linear paths and terraces were united with mirrored water channels or rills.

See related