While the most recent design wave to hit landscapes and gardens features cottage gardens and a more naturalistic planting of trees, shrubs, and flowers, some gardeners still prefer a formal look. Formal gardens are very orderly and organized. In contrast to naturalistic gardens, formal gardens clearly are planned works of horticultural art. If you have traveled to Europe, England, or Japan, you are sure to have seen many formal gardens. Even in the United States, formal flower and ornamental gardens can be found in public display gardens. If you like the idea of formality and order in your landscape, consider creating a formal flower garden. Here are some factors to consider when designing your formal garden:
Geometry: Formal gardens are often geometric in their design. They are balanced. A main walkway often intersects the gardens. The design on the right-hand side mirrors the design on the left. The design can include the size of the beds, the type of the side walkways, and the number of containers on either side of the main walkway. Often a formal garden is enclosed within a walled area and located close to the house so it can be easily enjoyed.
Hedges: Formal gardens are often separated into garden rooms by evergreen or deciduous hedges. These rooms may be hidden from view by a tall cedar or cypress hedge. They also can be defined by low-growing boxwood or privet hedges that allow you to see the whole garden and design. These hedges are sheared and trimmed tightly to maintain the desired shape and size. The resulting rooms can often make a small garden feel much larger.
Replication: In many formal gardens, a theme is replicated throughout the landscape. For example, a plant palette of certain flowers or flower colors could be repeated. Alternatively, ornamentation in the form of statues, water features, or benches could be repeated.
Containers: Designers of formal gardens use containers extensively to highlight certain plants and add height and interest. Often the containers themselves are attractive. They may contain flowers, trees, or shrubs, and in cold climates these plants will probably need to be protected from the winter weather. Consider having a place to move perennials in containers if you’re creating a formal garden in your landscape.