Step back in time and immerse yourself in the timeless allure of a Victorian English garden…at your own home! At this years RHS’s Chelsea Flower Show and Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, Hartley Botanic, renowned as England’s oldest and most esteemed Glasshouse and Greenhouse manufacturer, transported visitors to an era of elegance with their ‘Simple Elegance – A Traditional English Garden’ tradestand. Amidst a meticulously crafted landscape, adorned with nods to the Victorian period’s opulence and grace, Hartley Botanic showcased their exquisite, handcrafted Glasshouses, epitomizing durability and style across centuries. KDHamptons has all of the fabulous details below…

Landscape Architect Rachel Sampson, who designed the planting scheme, shares below how you can achieve this iconic look in your own garden.

Key Characteristics of a Victorian English Garden…

“Quintessential English, Victorian-style gardens are known for their ornate and lush aesthetics, geometric and symmetrical planting and their abundance of flowers – with roses being a staple. Throughout the summer, these gardens are a riot of colours and scents. They capitalize on beauty and fragrance, creating a lush and inviting outdoor space which appeals to the senses.”

1.     Planting Techniques

The way plants are arranged can significantly influence the garden’s overall look. Below are some techniques to consider:

–        Structure with Topiary: Start by incorporating clipped topiary, such as cubes, spirals, pyramids, domes, and beehives, to create a strong framework.

–        Layered Planting: Infilling with groups of plants, layering perennials for varying heights and foliage, and ensuring overflowing borders.

–        Plant in Odd Numbers: Use groups of odd numbers (3, 5, 7) to create a natural and soft appearance, with a “one that got away” to avoid overly rigid symmetry.

2.     Geometric Shapes and Structure

Victorian gardens often feature symmetrical layouts with precise, geometric designs. Paths, flower beds, and lawns are arranged in orderly patterns, often centered around a focal point like a fountain, Glasshouse or statue.

–        Clipped Topiary: As mentioned above, use topiary shapes like cubes and spirals for structure.

–        Curved Flower Beds: These create a softer, more organic look.

–        Linear Paths and Lawns: Defined by perennial borders that overflow with plants.

–        Vistas and Focal Points: Utilize classic geometry to create interesting views and focal points throughout the garden.

3.     Essential Plants to use

–          Roses – The heart and soul of an English garden, offering both beauty and fragrance.

–          Peonies – With their large, lush blooms, Peonies add a touch of opulence.

–          Dahlias – These vibrant flowers contribute a range of colours and intricate shapes.

–          Foxgloves – Tall and elegant, Foxgloves add height and a cottage garden feel.

–          Hollyhocks – These towering plants bring a sense of old-world charm and grandeur.

–          Full Green Foliage: Ensure ample greenery to fill in spaces and create a lush backdrop.

4.     Color Palette

A Victorian-style English garden often features a harmonious mix of whites, purples, and pinks, with bursts of hotter yellows and oranges in late summer. This palette provides a stable yet dynamic structure, ensuring year-round visual interest.

5.     Tree Choices

Choosing the right trees is crucial for adding both structure and seasonal interest to your garden. Native British species are a great choice, including:

–        Malus (Apples) – Offer spring blossoms and autumn fruit.

–        Acer campestre (Field Maple) – Known for its autumn colour.

–        Fagus sylvatica (Beech) – Provides excellent foliage.

–        Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam) – Adds a structure in winter.

6.     The Role of a Glasshouse

Glasshouses were essential elements and symbols of status within the elegant gardens of Victorian England. They played a crucial role in showcasing tropical and subtropical plant collections, brought back from expeditions by explorers and botanists. In a Victorian garden design, a Glasshouse serves as a focal point, grounding the garden’s layout, and as a functional area for cultivating diverse plant species that might otherwise struggle in the local climate. This not only enhances the garden’s visual appeal but also adds practical value, reinforcing its thematic coherence. Within Hartley Botanic’s expansive structures, partitions effectively delineate growing areas from leisure spaces, enabling the enjoyment and hosting of guests amidst the splendor of a Victorian-style garden under glass.

Photo credit: Mark Spencer @spencercollection

“In many respects what we say about our Glasshouses and Greenhouses is immaterial. It’s what you say that matters. It’s your inspiration that guides us. The conversations, the compliments, our collaboration that together create the world’s greatest Glasshouses and Greenhouses. ” says Hartley Botanic.

Every Hartley Botanic Glasshouse and Greenhouse is meticulously handcrafted in England, showcasing the company’s unwavering dedication to quality and craftsmanship. The structures embody a celebration of expert skill, utilizing the finest materials and meticulous attention to detail, ensuring each Glasshouse and Greenhouse is not only durable and safe but also exquisitely beautiful. Customers can rely on Hartley Botanic’s 30-year Lifetime Guarantee, a testament to the structural integrity and longevity of every installation.

With 85 years of experience in designing the some of the world’s most exceptional Glasshouses and Greenhouses, and an esteemed endorsement from the Royal Horticultural Society, Hartley Botanic has earned a global reputation for delivering stunning installations that exceed expectations. The company’s sterling reputation is a result of their steadfast commitment to high standards, extensive expertise, flawless craftsmanship, and unparalleled customer service.

All Hartley Botanic’s Glasshouses and Greenhouses are handmade, bespoke and made to order. Customers interested in purchasing a Hartley Botanic Greenhouse should visit HERE.

Or call 781-933-1993 for more information.

Images: Hartley Botanic 

Written by Nicole Vawter