How to Plant an Elizabethan Garden

An Elizabethan Garden is an eclectic garden. Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) ruled during the golden age of England. The Elizabethan era was a time of exploration and expansion abroad. Travellers brought back new plants and artworks. The gardeners created geometric hedge designs mixed with statuary and flowers for visitors. Elizabethan gardens gave structure to the outdoor landscape. Elizabethan gardens could be simple or grand. Here are tips to help you bring an Elizabethan air to your garden.

Organise your garden. Elizabethan gardens were enclosed often with fencing or hedges to keep out animals and intruders. Inside the garden a geometric design such as a circle, square or rectangle created the pattern for planting herbs or flowers. Mazes and labyrinths led visitors to different artworks or plantings in the garden. Divide your garden into organised sections. A simple block pattern divided by walkways or rock borders separates, for example, productive vegetables from ornamental flowers. Like a quilt, the overall pattern is divided into smaller patterns.

Use heritage flowers with new varieties. Plant each flower variety separately. Choose bloomers such as rhododendron, tulips, azaleas, lilies, and hydrangeas, if your climate permits. For a smaller ever-changing garden you may prefer annuals like marigolds, pansies and nasturtiums. Roses are an integral part of Elizabethan gardens. Trailing, climbing and bush varieties can be the backdrop for the shorter flower masses. Use miniature roses if your garden area is small.

Go herbal for the kitchen. An herb garden can be very small tucked in an odd corner or shrubby herbs can fill gaps between flowers and vegetables. Choose herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme, mint, basil and chives. Herbs are wonderful for cooking, but you can also enjoy them just by walking past and brushing the plant to release the fragrance into the garden.

Add vegetables for a well-rounded garden. Onions, garlic, tomatoes and beans grow well. Stake the tomatoes and beans so they do not stray from their designated place in the checkerboard garden. If space is at a premium, experiment. Try miniature corn, dwarf beans, radishes, spring onions or Bibb lettuce.

Display art or statuary in your garden. It should be at focal points and can be a simple decorative pot or a complex flowing water fountain. The Elizabethan era encouraged aesthetic blending. Use a mix of interesting or charming objects. Design your garden with room for a bench or stone seat. Place it where you can relax and enjoy your unique garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Roses
  • Annuals
  • Perennials
  • Herbs
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About the Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.