How to CreateYour OwnEnglish Garden
We all love to see an English garden filled with flowers on a long and lazy summers day, with containers and garden borders simply overflowing with a tumbling mass of blooms. Whether you’re strolling through a National Trust garden or sitting in your own, there’s something quintessentially British about a flower garden.
Although an English garden can seem a romantic mass of flowers, the true meaning goes back to a more practical purpose. It all started in Victorian Britain when workers were given plots of land to grow their own fruit herbs and vegetables. These were incredibly useful to provide not only food but also medicine for their families. The plots were usually small, so every spare inch would have been filled.
As the country changed over the years, more and more flowers found their way into the mix until eventually we arrived at what we know as the quintessential English garden look. Even our own monarch is into it - at Highgrove, King Charles has developed his very own English garden that is full of flowers and plants, and its open to the public if you fancy a visit. Over his time as Prince, and now as King, Charles has been very vocal on his passion for nature, gardening and environmental issues. It’s no wonder so much flora and fauna has featured in his Coronation celebrations.
Be inspired by King Charles’ Stamps
One perfect example of this is in the new commemorative stamps released by Royal Mail. These are a pretty big deal. Since 1934, the Royal Mail has created special stamps to celebrate events of national and international with the first ones released to mark the British Empire Exhibition. Nowadays they usually release a set at least once a year and themes have covered everything from Concorde to Christmas, Doctor Who to Thomas the Tank Engine.
Now, with a new monarch on the throne, it’s time for a big change and all postage stamps will change to feature the head of our new monarch. Of course, Royal Mail couldn’t let this huge occasion go by without a celebration. So, to kick everything off, they have released a set of special commemorative stamps with images that are very close to the King’s (and our own) hearts – flowers!
So, which flowers have they chosen? The images show some classic English favourites to include sweet pea, iris, lily, sunflower, fuchsia, tulip, peony, nasturtium, rose and dahlia. In other words, all the perfect mix of British blooms you need to create your own English garden.
English Summer Garden Flowers
When we think of traditional English garden flowers, there always seem to be the same ones that come up again and again. Interestingly pretty much all these flowers originate in far warmer climates, but somehow, they have become adopted into our hearts. Let’s tell you some more about our favourites.
As this is the coronation year, it would be wrong of us not to start with the favourite flower of King Charles – delphiniums. You could say that these blooms have got the royal seal of approval and we can see why. Standing tall and elegant above the other flowers, delphiniums are always in big demand. With their mass of flowers in blue - almost purple – shades, these blooms just seem to give off the perfect English country garden vibes. They do a pretty good job of looking after our friendly bees; they adore the colour and the flowers are packed full of pollen. Don’t worry if blue isn’t your thing, you can also get delphiniums in pink, white and coral shades.
We certainly couldn’t create this list without including that iconic favourite – the rose! It’s fair to say that this flower has been a popular choice in our gardens for centuries. Starting off with the Tudor rose that marked the uniting of two families that ended 30 years of civil war. Jump forward to the 19th century and roses were big news - grand stately homes would design gardens purely for roses. The perfect excuse for popping on your best clothes and having a promenade with your friends while showing off the fabulous flowers. As garden trends have come and gone, our love affair with roses has stuck. Don’t worry thought, you don’t need to go the lengths of creating a garden just for these flowers, they work just as well mixed in with your other plants.
Despite the oriental vibes these flowers give off, lilies are definitely a firm favourite in our English gardens (and our vases). With their spectacular flowers, it’s not hard to see why. These blooms deliver a huge personality that has been loved the world over. As you would expect from such a refined flower, this one needs a bit of extra care and attention and prefers a sunny and sheltered spot where no-one will disturb them. If you don’t have much space outside, these are very happy growing in your containers. Place them near an outside seating area and you’ll enjoy the delicious fragrance they deliver. Just remember to keep them away from your pets – they’re especially toxic to cats.
We can certainly see why dahlias were included in the commemorative stamps – they are a big favourite in English gardens. Apart from looking amazing, the flowers also come in pretty much any colour and shape you can imagine - plenty of choice. On top of that, dahlias are a perfect if you like to pop some flowers into your vase - the more you cut them, the more the flowers keep growing! But we think the main reason most of us love this flower is that they are some of the few blooms that keep on delivering. Even as the months grow colder, they’ll happily keep going with flowers coming through into September and even as far as October.
Popular English Garden Plants
An English garden doesn’t stop with the flowers, there are plenty of plants that you should include. After all, when creating your garden, you need to deliver a blanket of greenery and blooms. The great thing is, most of these plants also produce flowers that bees seem to love.
Alchemilla Mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
Let’s start with a favourite of the Queen Consort. Lady’s Mantle, also known as Alchemilla Mollis, delivers the perfect cottage charm you need for your garden. This one delivers bright green foliage with a cluster of tiny yellow flowers. Oh, and it’s pretty handy to have around if you need some medicine. It has been used to make lotions, herbal teas and remedies to treat ailments such as heart conditions, spasms and an anti-inflammatory. It gets even better because bees and butterflies love it. We’re impressed!
If we’re talking about keeping the bees happy, then we have to throw some lavender into our garden mix. There aren’t many English gardens around that don’t have lavender growing in them. After all, this one is pure heaven over the summer months. It delivers an abundance of purple flowers that smell absolutely sublime. This one is great to grow in containers, your borders, or even bring indoors as a houseplant. What could be better.
Echinops (Globe Thistle)
Included in the coronation emblem, we had to include a thistle in our choice of plants. Now, most thistles, if left to their own devices, will go a bit mad across the garden. However, there are some out there that deliver all the looks of thistles without the wild reputation. Although Echinops isn’t strictly the thistle of Scotland, we think it comes close. It looks pretty stunning as well. Want to know how it got its name? It comes from the Greek ‘echinos’ which means hedgehog and ‘ops’ which stands for appearance. In other words, the mass of round flowers looks like lots of gorgeous, purple hedgehogs, we love it!
If you’re looking for a really hardy plant that pretty much looks after itself, it would have to be the fuchsia. As long as you give them sunshine and water, they are happy. Even better, this plant will deliver an absolute mass of bell-shaped hanging flowers that keep delivering right through summer and into autumn. You can get fuchsia in hundreds of varieties with anything from small, delicate blooms to large flowers and any shade of white, pink, purple or red you can imagine.
If you’re struggling for outdoor space, why not go up and around instead. Climbing honeysuckles will grow pretty much anywhere – from covering a wall to surrounding your windows and even along fences. Not only will this plant deliver a mass of colourful flowers that smell delightful, but it also scores highly when delivering that English garden charm. The wildlife agrees with us - bees and butterflies love their flowers in the day while moths go made for them at night. Even better, red berries appear once the flowers are gone which are perfect for birds! Just remember, when choosing a spot for your honeysuckle make sure the roots are kept in the shade but let the stems feel the sun.
Now we’ve got you started, have lots of fun creating your English garden. Remember, when you think you have enough flowers, just add in a little bit more for good measure. Oh, and don’t forget the golden rule, make your choices bee-friendly!
Want to bring some of the outdoors in? Shop our range of fabulous flowering house plants.