Photo by Melody

Introduction to Garden Styles: So Many Choices!

By Toni Leland (tonilelandFebruary 14, 2008

When one thinks of a garden, the image that usually comes immediately to mind is one of artistically arranged flower beds, or rows of vegetables marching along a straight line. Indeed, our residential gardens are the most common style, but many other garden types flourish here in the United States and around the world. Many gardens are more than just floral displays, and exploring the following different types might give you some ideas for your own space.

Gardening picture
Stylistic Gardens

A garden designed around a style or cultural aesthetic sends a definite message - either obvious or subliminal.  Following are several examples of such gardens.  Picture these and think about how you would feel if you wandered through them.Japanese
  • Japanese gardens - carefully designed spaces that invite contemplation and meditation
  • Tropical gardens - regional displays of heat-loving and high moisture specimens
  • Alpine or rock gardens - composed of rocks, wood, and plants requiring little water
  • Children's gardens - designed as a learning experience about Nature
  • English landscape gardens - park-like designs based on eighteenth century styles
  • Topiary gardens - designed to display the art of plant sculpture
  • Geometric gardens - mazes, for instance; often part of a formal garden (see below)
  • Zen gardens - Far Eastern gardens for prayer or meditation
  • Water gardens - composed predominantly of aquatic plants, fish, and wildlife
  • Formal gardens - precisely laid-out, ornate, and often extravagant
  • Wildflower gardens - replicas of meadow or hillside natural growth
  • Xeriscapes - display of native plants that require no water, often planted in rock "beds"
Feature or Display Gardens

Other types of gardens may feature an individual plant type.  These gardens can be ornamental,  food-producing, or a combination of both.  Interesting and beautiful, purely ornamental gardens can provide the same soothing feelings as those mentioned in the previous list.  Examples include:
  • Rose garden - a display or test garden for different varieties
  • Winter garden - plants, shrubs and trees with winter interest
  • Flower garden - specimens planted for their blooms
  • Fernery - shade garden for moisture-loving ferns
  • Cactus garden - desert style display of cacti and succulents
Garden designs that provide food may also be very attractive:
  • herb gardens
  • vegetable gardens
  • orchards
Special Gardens

Additional garden types include the following:

Sacred garden - a place for meditation and prayerroofgarden
Roof garden - planted on top of a building to conserve energy and natural resources
Cottage garden - small and charming personal space
Community garden - a project that draws townspeople together with Nature
Hydroponic garden - supported by water soluble minerals and artificial light
Raised bed garden - a built-up bed surrounded by retaining materials
Sensory garden - provides experiences of sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound
Windowbox - a close-at-hand gardening experience
Zoological garden - a garden design which displays animals in natural habitattrial
Botanical garden - a wide variety of plants grown for scientific study and documentation
Wildlife habitat - a landscape designed to feed and protect birds and small wild animals
Butterfly garden - a special selection of nectar-producing flowers to attract butterflies
Trial garden - a testing ground for new specimens and hybrids, as well as new techniques
Organic garden - a garden space free of pollutants, chemicals, and synthetic materials
Arboretum - a garden of trees and shrubs grown for study and/or display
Historic gardens - gardens established early in historycemetery
Cemetery gardens - park-like landscape plantings in and around a major cemetery

A Personal Choice

No matter what style garden you choose to integrate into your landscape, it should and will bring you great enjoyment.  Consider the details of space and regional requirements, then customize any garden style to be your very own.

  About Toni Leland  
Toni LelandToni Leland has been writing for over 20 years. As a spokesman for the Ohio State University Master Gardener program, she has written a biweekly newspaper column and is the editor of the Muskingum County MG newsletter, Connections; she currently writes for GRIT, Over the Back Fence, and Country Living magazines. She has been a gardener all her life, working soil all over the world. In her day job, she scripts and produces educational DVDs about caring for Miniature Horses, writes and edits books about them, and has published five novels.

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