Inspiring and Intricate Herb Garden Designs

The history of garden design dates back to 1500 BC. The earliest evidence of horticulture and landscaping is in the form of Egyptian tomb paintings depicting lotus ponds surrounded by symmetrical rows of acacias and palms. The famous Hanging gardens of Babylon were known as one of the wonders of the world. Temple gardens contained vegetables and herbs that were considered sacred. In the middle age, sophisticated herb garden designs and horticulture techniques were developed by monasteries. Monks grew medicinal herbs and treated the sick fellow monks and the community who were suffering from ailments with these healing herbs. The wealthy Romans built villas with water cascades, topiary, rose and shaded arcades. Much of the present modern herb garden design is influenced and inspired by the intricate, traditional Persian, Zen and Italian Renaissance gardens.

Your herb garden design should reflect the inspiration and theme. Herb garden may be one of the various design styles and techniques brought out below:

Knot Herb Garden Design

Knot gardens are symmetrically-designed gardens using geometric patterns with fantastic view obtained from trimming the plants in a knotted shape. It requires constant grooming and keeping the defined shapes by the precise pruning of edges. Herbs that work well in knot gardens are those that can be trimmed and designed into hedge. Varieties of dwarf herbs, such as Thyme, Chamomile and Lavender are good choices. Some possible patterns for a modern knot garden can be Diamonds, Oblongs, Diagonal crossings, Triangles and Wheels. These patterns can have divisions for different herbs that can be segregated according to hues, contrasts and fragrances.

English Cottage Herb Garden Design

There are two types of English herb gardens. The informal types are called Cottage gardens and are used for culinary and medicinal properties. The second are the formal gardens built for aesthetics and visual appeal. These gardens were structured and used knots and overlapped with row plants. Lavender and Thyme are ideal and widely used in English herb gardens. English cottage gardens are popular in American circles and widely emulated for their wild abundance of perennial flowers and herbs, vine-covered arbors, and plants tumbling over walkways.

Tuscan Herb garden Design

Tuscan herb gardens incorporate traditional elements in style and the design contains elements, that are characterized by both plants and the accessories. One of the important features in Tuscan garden design is the use of vases, urns, and terra cotta pots to grow your herbs in. Though you are expected to use a hoard of garden containers to create your Tuscan garden design, you don’t really have to spend a fortune for buying vases and pots. The herb garden looks perfect in its rustic look even when it is cultivated in chipped and cracked pots. Use of Italian herbs is best for the Tuscan design with optional inclusion of poppies and flowers. Use of a trellis and grape vine or grape ivy to create a look of Italy’s tradition of fine wines will give a stunning look to your Tuscan herb garden.

Topiary Herb Garden Design

Topiary is a formal garden design that uses the art of pruning and training plants and shrubs into decorative shapes. It goes as far back as the Romans, but many of the artistic forms or prunings were developed in Europe. Massive topiary shapes of animals, birds and sculptures can be created out of tight evergreen bushes or hedges. You are not expected to craft elaborate sculptures out of the herbs, use simple topiary design that will enhance your herb garden giving it an artistic view.

Landscaping the herb garden doesn’t require high degree of professional skills. Using stones and rocks in home gardens provide a seat of tranquility for reflection and relaxation. Caring and tending for a garden can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, divert stressful memories and help in conjuring good thoughts that have a lingering beneficial effect on the subconscious mind. Reserve a part of the garden to enjoy a few minutes of solitude, meditation and prayer. The mind can rest and the eyes can feast on diverse muddle of colorful herbs, blooms and flowering plants, distributed in a seemingly haphazard but pleasing style, apparently evoking thoughts of a “natural landscape.” The symphony and aura of herbs with flowers in the overall composition, and the wildness of the arrangement gives rise to a closer communing with nature.

The Benefits of Professional Garden Design

Garden design is the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes. Most professional garden designers are experts in the principles of horticulture and landscaping. A professional designer will have the passion to create your ideal garden, whether that is a low maintenance space, or a unique contemporary or traditional styled garden. Many will use an ‘in-house’ team to ensure that projects are constructed and managed efficiently and tidily and that work is carried out to the highest possible standard. A design team can offer expert advice on any aspect of your garden or a large country estate.

Typical services provided by a design and construction service:

• Residential and Commercial Garden Design

• Project Management

• Full, in house Construction Service

• Planting Design and Installation

• Lighting

• Irrigation

• Design and Installation of Bespoke Water Features

• Natural Swimming Pools / Hot tub installation

The process usually consists of the following steps:

Initial Site Visit and Consultation

This involves a meeting with designers to discuss your ideas and requirements. Design prices will reflect the plot size, complexity and the scope and features included in the brief. As every garden is unique, the cost for your project will likely be discussed at an initial consultation.

Layout Design

Your designers will prepare a tailored, scaled design detailing the hard and soft landscaping features that are to be included in your design.

Quotation

Once a layout design has been finalised to your complete satisfaction, you will be provided with an itemised quotation and detailed specification.

Construction

Upon acceptance of the quotation, work will be scheduled and the project will be undertaken by the team of gardeners and landscapers.

Planting

If you require a formal planting plan, this will usually be prepared and costed for you. Plant stock will be ordered and the garden designer will ensure that plants are planted with care and precision. Most designers have experience of designing and implementing large and small schemes and can source and plant specimen, semi mature trees and shrubs.

So in summary, if you’re thinking about overhauling your garden and want to make sure you end up with top class results, consider the benefits of employing a professional garden designer to take the hassle out of the design and construction. When selecting a garden designer it’s always worth seeking recommendations from people you know, and ask to see some examples of previous work.

Issues for a Garden Designer in the 21st Century – Wildlife, Sustainable Design and Climate Change

A garden is a living entity – it is not like decorating a room or designing a house in which clever use of space is required for maximum convenience of its inhabitants. Whilst clever use of space comes into garden design, understanding the ecology of a garden – what is needed to keep it functioning healthily, is fundamental. It is no use placing attractive planting in the wrong place where it won’t survive – Lavender in damp shade, or Rodgersia in dry sunny conditions, Rhododendrons on lime or Clematis in acid soil. We also need to give plants adequate growing room and take into account changes that will occur over time. But more than this, the garden is a living plant and animal community, which means thinking about attracting beneficial insects in to help deal with pests; providing nesting and overwintering places for insects, amphibians, birds and small mammals who will eat pests; companion planting; providing food sources for insects and birds – nectar and pollen rich flowers for bees and other pollinators, berries for birds, and using some native plants. All these considerations are not just for people who love to watch wildlife or want to feel they are doing good – they are a matter of keeping the garden in balance and healthy – not allowing a pest to get out of control and ensuring our own survival by supporting pollinators. These factors can be designed in to a garden and I would say its beauty and value to humans can be increased rather than compromised as a result, not only because the garden will look and feel healthier, but because choices made for wildlife also please humans – who would dispute the beauty of simple flowers ideal for pollinators, a dry stone wall that can provide a home for solitary bees, or a tree or shrub with autumn to winter berries or fruit (such as a Sorbus, Cotoneaster or crab apple)? Most gardeners desire long seasons of bloom, from Hellebores and snowdrops through to Michaelmas daisies and Japanese anemones – this extended season is good for pollinators too. A pile of twigs and stones can provide overwintering for insects, but a designer can instead build an insect hotel which looks beautiful as well as housing wildlife.

However, it would be disingenuous to say that there are not some compromises to be made between the needs of wildlife and the human inhabitants of gardens – people who enjoy a very neat garden throughout the year, if they want to encourage wildlife, may have to learn to leave fallen leaves on flower beds in autumn, where they will be taken down by worms to enrich the soil, as well as providing leaf litter for over-wintering insects, and perhaps leave a patch of grass to grow long for wildlife in spring. A garden designer can design this is, so that it looks right rather than scruffy.

But one of the most problematic sources of tension between the needs of wildlife and the needs of people is ivy, for ivy is invaluable to wildlife, providing a reliable source of late season nectar for bees, berries for birds when there is almost nothing else, and if allowed to grow, nesting sites, as well as homes for many insects, spiders and even small mammals and amphibians when on the ground. However, it can be rampant and difficult to control. It mustn’t be allowed to grow up young, small or weak trees and is best kept away from houses and pergolas. The best solution, which is not possible in every garden, is to find a wall away from the house, where it can be allowed to grow without out-competing everything else, and to keep it in check.

There is interest amongst garden designers of today in environmentally responsible approaches to design. This is linked to gardens for wildlife, but also to wider environmental concerns. As garden designers we are always concerned about fitting the garden into its wider environment. Many of the gardens I have designed or am working on are in conservation areas, where it is important to use local materials that fit with the area, and to design in sympathy with the locality. This often means, for instance using native trees and does set parameters but doesn’t mean you can’t be imaginative. The other aspect of being environmentally responsible is to think about the environmental footprint or cost of the garden – are we going to use stone that has been shipped across the world, or are we going to try to use more locally sourced materials? Can we recycle or re-use existing materials? Are we using timber from sustainable sources? We must be interested in the environmental costs of our designs, as we are so affected by climate change. The weather is unpredictable at the moment. No one knows whether we are going to have drought, floods, harsh or mild winters. This all effects what we can grow and get established successfully. Working in Oxfordshire I always specify fully hardy plants, and most well established plants in gardens that I know have survived, with the odd one or two dying off in recent winters, including Bays, Cotoneasters and Ceanothuses. 2012 was also a very bad year for top fruit (pears and apples). So perhaps plant failure is going to become more common in the future as weather patterns vary and will be something we have to live with. The best policy for a designer is to ensure that the plant is right for the situation and aspect, and give it the best chance by ensuring appropriate ground preparation and care.

Plant diseases and pests are also a worry with ash, horse-chestnuts and now oaks being threatened. Environmentally responsible designers are looking at using home-grown plants rather than importing plants and importing pests and diseases with them. But it’s really a matter of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

These are some of the most important issues facing garden designers today, and I hope I have generated some thought around these issues, for further discussion.