What is an English Tudor Garden?
Tudor gardening is a clear manifestation of how much the 16th-century aristocracy was fascinated with symbolism and geometric patterns. It’s architectural and gardening style dates back to the time of King Henry VII of England. The English Tudor gardens featured symmetrical patterns that could best be admired from tall castle windows and balconies. Each section of the pattern was called a knot with most gardens “quartered” into four knots.
It was typical that the knots include not just ornamental plants but fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs for medicinal purposes to help provide for the family of the house. Not too many Tudor gardens used hedges, especially box hedges, as they did not care for the smell and they thought that the plant killed bees. Might not sound like a big deal, but some families kept beehives in their gardens as well. Instead, they liked to used lavender to create outlines for the garden knots.
For a centerpiece in the middle of the garden, many had a water feature, such as a fountain. The pathways were typically covered in gravel, sand, or chalk to stand out in contrast to all of the green. During the winter months, gardeners would embellish the knots with colorful stones, sand, and red brick dust to keep the geometric patterns visible while the plants were dormant. Wealthier families used them to create pictures, typically a coat-of-arms, in their gardens.
Some of the distinct characteristics that made Tudor gardens different from the French and Italian renaissance gardens were the low, green, and white striped fencing that surrounded the knots. Instead of stone statuary, Tudor gardens had painted, carved animals atop green and white striped poles, matching the fencing. Today, no intact English Tudor gardens remain. The few examples that still exist at places like Hampton Court are mere reconstructions.
However, it is possible to replicate the English Tudor gardening concept by implementing certain features based on one’s home architectural design and landscape. This will bring out a distinct visual balance between the surrounding landscape and your flowerbed. There are different contemporary designs to the renaissance Tudor gardens. Even so, certain aspects have remained intact, such as the intermingling of garden ornamentals with useful plants, knot garden designs, and water features.
Creating your own English Tudor Garden
By simply implementing certain architectural concepts, it is possible to reconstruct an English Tudor garden of your own. Here is a breakdown of some of the aspects to consider during design and construction.
Step 1 - Choosing a knot design
This is a very crucial part of the whole process. You need to have a geometric pattern for your Tudor garden. The knot design doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Get inspiration from nature, tapestries, embroidery, and even jewelry. Use your favorite search engine to look up other Tudor inspired gardens.
Once you have the pattern in mind, the next task is sketching the design plan. Consider the placement of your home and the surrounding landscape. Your sketch should include all the necessary physical features like buildings, power lines, sewer lines, and other utilities. You don't want to set your English Tudor garden over something important that you may need to access later down the road, like the home’s septic system or ground wires.
Step 2 - Shaping the flowerbeds
This is at the center of the design of English Tudor gardens. The shape of the garden flowerbeds is everything. It is what actually sets them apart from other gardens out there. By design and structure, a typical Tudor garden should feature four quarters formed by the main alleys. These should be enclosed by a latticework fence or railings. Or if you’re going for a more modern take, leave out the railing and use low hedges instead. The quarters are then divided into distinct knot gardens. And then what is the pattern going to be within those knots?
Step 3 - Planting evergreens
Evergreen plants should be aligned on the outer margins of the knot garden. These herbs guarantee continuous color to your garden all year round. This is crucial in keeping the Tudor garden boundaries distinct. Take time to select plant varieties that are leafy, attractive, and will do well with the local climate. Which direction does the garden face? Will it get a lot of sunlight or will it need plants that like the shade? Luckily, there’s a whole list of evergreens to choose from. Among the most popular varieties include the acanthus, asphodel, cornflower, cowslip, periwinkle, snap-dragon, among many others. You can add a twist by including some sweet-smelling plants like marjoram and mint.
Step 4 - Color scheme selection
This is a very important aspect of the knot garden. In fact, this is what brings out the true aspect of English Tudor gardens. By design, the inner aspect of the knot garden should have flowers that contrast the evergreen on the margin. Typically most modern-day English Tudor gardens feature white flowers like Angel’s trumpet and members of the Gardenia spp. Or you could use colorful stones or white sand like they did in Elizabethan times. The idea is to have a colorful interior aspect of the garden sharply contrasting the evergreen exterior.
Step 5 - Water features
This is where we come in. Once you have added your favorite color scheme, you need to add some water features. There are many different water features one can opt for. The most common ones for Tudor gardens include ponds and water fountains. These water features can be located in different parts of the garden. Fountains and pond basin were traditionally located at the very heart of the garden landscape. You can stick by that traditional design or try something new. Try locating them somewhere different and see how it goes. It’s also nice to include sitting areas near birdbaths or ponds to better enjoy the wildlife.
Fireplace Doors Online has a new line of unique water features made of granite, basalt, and marble. Simple birdbaths or stone bubblers would be great to add some charm to the individual knot sections. For the special centerpiece of the garden, we have a grandiose boulder fountain. Or add some magic with fire on water fountains. For ponds, we have concrete and copper scupper bowls that would look lovely cascading into the water below. If you don’t plan on having fish in the pond, why not try for some cool fire on water effects with our submersible ignitions systems in linear, round, and h-shaped burners.
Step 6 - Extras
We understand that brightly colored animals on top of stripes poles probably isn’t something you want in your Tudor garden. By today’s trends and standards, they’re a bit tacky. So we have a more modern solution. Tiki torches!
Tiki torches offer roughly the same shape while providing a small amount of warmth and light. The use of fire ties together the whole garden, making it seem as though it is older than appears, giving it a bit of that Old World magic and atmosphere.
For more outdoor living products, browse through our line of summer products at Fireplace Doors Online. Or call our customer service professionals for quotes and large orders to get a discount. Subscribe to our newsletter for an instant promo code.