At First Blush: Falling in Love With Country Gardens

Country gardens have us at "hello," with their well-balanced foliage and flowers, winding paths past well-trimmed hedges and romantic nooks aplenty. Come get to know country garden style, and see if it suits you too.

A sculpted country garden with flowering plants and a bench.

Sculpted Country Garden

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

This traditional country garden features beautifully sculpted topiary trees and hedges surrounded by colorful flowering plants. The wood bench in the center provides a place to take it all in and enjoy.

What invokes romance more than a country garden? Little. If you have the space and time to develop one, it's a gorgeous way to go.

With roots in the 18th century, the concept of a country garden now refers to larger, heavily planted gardens. While square and rectangular shapes are always good choices for balancing country gardens' scale, they're even more useful today, as those fortunate few with abundant land may split it into a range of smaller spaces - orchards, woodlands and ponds, as well as swimming pools, tennis courts and terraces for entertaining. These geometric shapes can be broken up to great effect with the use of curved paths.

Planting tends to be more formal around the house, terrace and main lawn and becomes more naturalistic as it heads outward. Natural stone, brick or even concrete are traditional paving materials for the immediate vicinity, giving way to gravel and grass paths in the outer areas of the landscape.

Country garden design is all about using views and vistas to its advantage, as well as features such as stone seats, pergolas, ornamental pools and sculpture. Hedges define views and contain spaces, such as in this dreamy sitting nook. This space also demonstrates that you don't need a lot of land to use country garden style effectively. Even at their smallest, country gardens all come back to a few fundamental elements: lots of lush planting, and sitting or walking spaces from which to admire it.

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