Dreaming of an English/Texas Garden

From BritsAtTheirBest.com

English gardens always seem so cool and fresh and charming . . . maybe that’s why I’m craving one just as the brutal heat of summer approaches. I, the novice gardener, am attempting to design a gardenscape for the front of my historical home and I’m hoping for an English garden approach despite the Texas terrain. Security has to come first of course, since lately we have had a few incidents around these parts. We hired professionals to set up chain fencing around the property, and we may have a few more security measures set up in the future. I found a nice vine I can set up around a chain fence, so it’s actually going to look really nice once I’m done. I found affirmation in an article about various garden styles, which included the English/Texas cottage garden (yes, it does exist). Read more from Garden Stops ”Gardens of the Past”:

Not to be outdone, the country folk in Texas began using what God had given them and stretching it to create their version of a new cottage garden style, called “herbaceous borders”.  Popularized in Europe by an English artist named Gertrude Jekyll, what we now think of as English gardens were probably in America at the same time, only without the garden walls that the English are known for. On east Texas farms, chicken runs bordered with a picket fence made with cedar is a soft wood and covered with climbing roses were about as close as you got to a garden wall, but if you want to make your garden look extra special then you should consider adding vinyl fences.

From Bhagwan Photos

So now that I know it’s possible, and even historically appropriate to have an English cottage garden, how do I start? For tips on designing and maintaining an English garden, see Country Farm Lifestyles. This article from Best of the Brits gives a history of differing styles of English gardens as well as guidelines for using these gardens as inspiration. Applying all this knowledge to the dry Texas climate requires a bit more insight found in this excellent article by Dr. Ethne Clark, a Brit turned Texan.  Dr. Clark translates a water-wise gardening method learned in England to her central Texas garden while also using topsoil mixes, describing the routine from start to finish.

Pioneer Albertine Roses from Antique Rose Emporium

Finally, my current garden resource obsession is the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, TX. They have a show garden and store, but also sell all their roses via mail order. And these are not just any ole roses, these are mostly old Texas, long-lived, easy to grow roses. Many of thier rose varieties are gathered from “rose rustling” where enthusiastis rescue neglected roses in cemeteries or old farm houses. I am in awe of this concept and am convinced I must get me some antique pioneer roses!

Note: Sue, our exterior/landscape designer, is engaged in a very big project right now and will not be able to post very much. In her place, I’m going to pop in as The Novice Gardener to share my experiences, triumphs and failures in establishing my own gardens (yes, I’m attempting veggies and flowers and vines, oh my!)

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Design Series: Planning for Outdoor Living

Design Series: Planning for Outdoor Living

It is absolutely frigid today in Austin! Yes, I hear you, New York, Boston and Chicago… what does Austin know about frigid, right? Well, um, okay, there isn’t any snow on the ground and spring is a lot closer for us than it is for you and a good way to enhance your home appeal [...]