Garden Styles

The style that you choose for your garden may reflect traditional concepts or it may be highly individual. Whatever the style, it will almost certainly give you more satisfaction if you consider carefully what garden style means.

A garden with a consistent design style has a special kind of integrity and coherence. It is not simply a collection of unrelated features and ideas, but a unified whole with parts that work together to achieve an overall effect. A garden designed with a specific style has a look, whereas gardens without a coherent style often are visually confusing. A garden without unity, for example, would be one where Japanese artifacts, such as a lantern, water dipper, and miniature bridge, have been placed in the midst of a cottage-style garden or adjacent to a Tudor home. However, if these same artifacts were set in a traditional Japanese garden — or even a simple garden without a specific style — they would be in harmony with their surroundings. An awareness of your garden’s natural and man-made surroundings is essential to the development of a coherent garden style.

A garden need not be modeled after a particular style in order to be coherent. Whether it’s traditional, contemporary, or personal, the garden style should never be at odds with its surroundings.

There is a difference between style and fashion. Fashions change with the prevailing tastes of the time and place, with one fashion replacing another. By contrast, style is consciously developed and is harmonious with both the place and the person. Style reflects the choices and personality of the designer. A garden that suits one region or even one person will very likely be ill-suited to other regions or other people — a Connecticut garden, for example, in an arid, severe terrain. As you consider what your style is and how you would like to incorporate it into your design, consider what design elements best suit you and the landscape surrounding your garden — and not simply what fashion happens to be currently popular.