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Create a Formal Garden

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By : Leslie Eskildsen    99 or more times read
My gardens have always been described as whimsical. That is a nice way to say there is no order to them. Flowers are here, there and everywhere with no particular color scheme, and although attractive, they don't have the eye catching appeal of a formal garden.

These eclectic style gardens have their place, but it's not a bad idea to incorporate some traditional principles to add structure to your landscape. Here are some fundamentals of a formal garden; perhaps some of these ideas will find their way into your "not so formal" garden.

1. Begin by incorporating a geometric structure to your garden. This can be defined with trimmed boxwood hedges, fencing and bordered pathways.

2. No matter what sort of medium you use for your walkways, keep them straight or curved, with the edges neatly trimmed. In addition to plant borders, create a solid outline with brick or poured concrete. Not only does it add to the linear shape, it makes maintenance a breeze.

3. Use small accents to make big statements. White planters with green foliage stands out nicely. Egg-shaped boxwood shrubs in small urns on either side of an entrance or garage door attract the eye and create symmetry. Another classic accent is the topiary. Make your own by filling a wire form with sphagnum moss and planting vine, such as English Ivy around the form. As your plant grows, train the vines to enclose the form and prune any shoots that cannot easily be trained.

4. Continue the feeling of symmetry by repeating plant sequences in different areas, or placing the same plant on either side of stairs, or bench.

5. Create a solid structure in your garden that has a year round appeal. Although certain plants will stand out at various stages of their blooming, ensure you have an overall design with classic components such as borders, walkways, hedges, fencing, shrubs and perennials.

6. Keep it simple by choosing a definite color scheme or plant style. White is one of the most common choices for a formal garden, and creates a sense of lightness in shade gardens.

7. Emphasize focal points or views in your garden. A straight walkway should have a destination such as a deck, pond, rock garden or gazebo. Sitting areas should take advantage of the most scenic areas or viewpoints.

8. Build on a more "elegant versus casual" design with your outdoor furniture or deck. This doesn't have to be costly; the addition of a simple outdoor tablecloth, or centerpiece creates a more formal look.

9. Containers, strategically placed make wonderful formal accents that are not only attractive, but flexible. A simple terra cotta planter can be used to create a functional and elegant herb garden. Use a large trimmed rosemary plant for your centerpiece and build on it using a combination of variegated leaf sages, trailing oregano and wispy dill or fennel.

10. Once you've established a simple green and white color scheme, throw in dashes of purple clematis or sky blue morning glory as an accent.

11. Add the same color of mulch to all the beds for a consistent, clean look. You'll appreciate the ease of maintenance it provides.
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