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How to Create the English Gardens of Your Dreams

Dreaming of having your own English gardens around your home? Stop dreaming and start making your yard the whimsical place you want it to be with the tips and tricks in this post!

Create the English Garden of Your Dreams | Food Life Design

Don’t you just love English gardens? I sure do. I’ve dreamed of having one since I was a little girl.

Last year, I finally took the initiative and started working toward building my own. But, it certainly isn’t a one summer project.

The English Garden of My Dreams... Complete with Stone Walkways and Wood Garden Beds

Summer #1 – The Start of the English Garden of My Dreams… Complete with Stone Walkways and Wood Garden Beds

In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a never-ending project with ever-changing results. It’s definitely a labor of love and you’ve got to really want it.

So, while you might really dream of having English gardens surrounding your home…are you willing to put in the work that it will take to make it happen? Hours and hours of work?

Sound like too much for you? That’s okay! I’m joking…sort of.

That’s the greatest thing about building English gardens! While it does take hours and hours of work over time, it doesn’t all have to be done in a day, a week or even just one summer season.

Create the English Garden of Your Dreams

What kind of English garden do you want?

Generally speaking, there are 2 types of English gardens.

The first is considered a landscape garden and usually consists of trees, hedges and flowers only. Landscape gardens are quite formal.

Like this one in the photo below…

England, United Kingdom, London, Architecture, Monument

English Landscape Garden – Image via Pixabay

The second type of English garden (and the one most commonly thought of), is the cottage garden. My favorite!

A cottage garden has a more witchy, whimsical look…like you’re walking into a picture from a fairy tale. And that’s what I’m trying to create at my home.

Like this one…

English Cottage Gardens

English Cottage Garden – Image via Wikimedia

English cottage gardens have a whole bunch of plants, including trees, hedges, flowers, herbs and even some fruits and vegetables.

Cottage gardens are very much a combination of the formal landscape garden (above) and a French potager garden (below).

French Potager Garden

French Potager Garden – Image via Wikimedia

Don’t think of your English garden as one whole project, but rather as a whole bunch of little projects.

The beauty of an English garden is that it’s meant to be throughout your yard, as in multiple gardens, connected by pathways. So, you can do just small patches of land at a time.

If you only have an hour on Sunday morning, then work on one small area, like planting flowers around your mailbox post or creating a ring of flowers around a tree in your yard.

A ring around the tree in my backyard.

Summer #1 – A ring around the tree in our backyard.

No stress! Creating your garden should be a fun, relaxing experience, don’t make it a job that you don’t want to do. 

Choose Your English Garden Plants Wisely

Lily of the Valley from My English Gardens

Lily of the Valley from My English Gardens

How much time do you have available to spend on your garden?

Different garden plants require different amounts of time and care. So, it’s important that you choose the right plants for the available time you have to care for them.

What’s the Annual budget for your English garden? 

It’s easy to spend A LOT of money if you’re not careful! Gardening can be a very expensive hobby if you just haphazardly spend money on plants and supplies.

So, be sure to set a strict annual budget for creating your new English gardens and stick to it! No matter how pretty that new flower is at the garden center.

Flowers or Food?

What’s your goal for your English gardens? Do you just want your yard and home to look beautiful with a landscape garden or are you hoping to create more of a cottage garden that will also produce some fresh food and herbs for your family?

Annuals or Perennials?

In order to decide, you must first ask yourself the three questions above. If you have a lot of time and money to spend, then annuals are the way to go.

There are TONS of different varieties of flowers, food and herbs to choose from and you can switch it up from year to year. Below are some ideas…

Sunflower, Sunflower Field, Yellow, Summer, Blossom

Sunflower – Image via Pixabay

Annual English Garden Plants

(Not a complete list)

  • Amaranthus
  • Begonia
  • Cosmos
  • Dahlia
  • Fuschia
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Geraniums
  • Impatiens
  • Marigold
  • Petunia
  • Sunflower
  • Basil
  • Borage
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Nasturtium
  • Parsley
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

But, if you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend, then you might want to think about planting more perennials. Yes, they do require a bit more care in the beginning, but they come back year after year without much further effort.

plant field meadow flower petal flora wildflower poppy flower garden flowering plant orange blossom california poppy eschscholzia californica annual plant land plant violet family poppy family

Perennial English Garden Plants

(Not a complete list)

  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Calendula
  • California Poppy
  • Columbine
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coneflower
  • Daffodil
  • Daisy
  • Daylily
  • English Primrose
  • Forsythia
  • Forget Me Nots
  • Foxglove
  • Goldenrod
  • Heather
  • Hollyhock
  • Hosta
  • Hyacinth
  • Lilac
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Magnolia
  • Morning Glory
  • Orchid
  • Pansy
  • Peony
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Rose
  • Spirea
  • Sweet William
  • Tiger Lily
  • Viola (Violet)
  • Wisteria
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnea
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Berries (Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Strawberry)
  • Citrus (if you live where it’s warm year-round)
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Horseradish
  • Leeks
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Rhubarb
  • Watercress

Of course, this is not a complete list and there are probably hundreds of other plants you can choose for your English gardens. Consider this a starting point…a large one, but a start nonetheless.

Summer #1 - The Start of Our Stone Walkways

Summer #1 – The Start of Our Stone Walkways

Pathways and Trails

Now that you’ve chosen all your plants, it’s time to start thinking about the layout of your pathways and trails to your English gardens.

Personally, I love the traditional use of stones and wood throughout the gardens and that’s what I’ve chosen to do in my own. However, there is a variety of other materials you can use in your garden pathways.

Here’s some ideas…

  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Gravel
  • Mulch
  • Pavers
  • Slate
Strawberry - Garden Plant Labels

Strawberry – Garden Plant Labels

Add Some Personality To Your English Gardens

Okay, so the garden is planted, your pathways and trails are laid…now what? Now, it’s time to add some personality. Some decorations, some whimsy and some fun!

But, don’t rush out to the garden center and spend a bunch of unnecessary money on fancy decor. You can make a ton of it yourself, so why not add your own touch?

Here’s some ideas…


Chandelier Planter from DIY Show Off

Chandelier Planter

How gorgeous is this chandelier planter? I would imagine that you could even place solar lights inside the pots instead of plants, too! Get the super easy tutorial from DIY Show Off.


Make your own garden trellis from extra branches and twigs.

DIY Garden Trellis from Hearth and Vine

DIY Garden Trellis

I love creating things for my garden by using up the fallen sticks and branches from around the yard. And this gorgeous DIY Garden Trellis from Hearth and Vine is on my To Do List for this summer!


Garden Stepping Stones

DIY Garden Stepping Stones from The Owner Builder Network

Garden Stepping Stones

I have a bag of concrete sitting in the basement that a friend gave me and I didn’t get to use last summer. But, I think these DIY Garden Stepping Stones from The Owner Builder Network are going to get made with it this summer!


Creative garden balls by Karen Weigert Enos

Decorative Garden Balls from Empress of Dirt

Decorative Garden Balls

I love these gorgeous Decorative Garden Balls from Empress of Dirt and I can’t wait to try to make some. I can just imagine them throughout the garden in all different colors!

Well, that’s it for today, my friends. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning How to Create the English Gardens of Your Dreams.

Here’s a quick recap of the tips above:

  • What kind of English garden do you want? Landscape garden or cottage garden?
  • Start small. Create multiple little gardens throughout your yard.
  • Choose annual plants and/or perennial plants based on your time and money availability.
  • Create walkways, paths and trails throughout your English gardens.
  • Add some personality with whimsical decorations.

As you can see it’s really just a growing collection of your favorite flowers, herbs, plants and trees, along with a few whimsical decorations thrown in for fun.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your English Gardens today!

Download our FREE Garden Planner!

Dreaming of having English gardens around your home? Stop dreaming and start making your yard the whimsical place you want with the tips in this post!

Have a Great Day!


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