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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Victorian Garden


I recently was both delighted and shocked when my gardens were accused of being of the Victorian Style. I absolutely LOVE Victorian decorating in my home…but in my garden??? I had no idea that I was doing any particular design style…I was just being me!

Curious as to what exactly Victorian style gardens looked like…and what hallmarks they were known for…I did some research. I learned that I do in fact primarily garden in a Victorian style, however, I do like a lot of other styles of gardening, and therefore have blended them into my landscape.


The most prominent attributes of Victorian garden design seem to be order and neatness. It is a classic style that any gardener would find pride in.


The Victorian style is known for Ornate decor, over-the-top gardens and geometrically pleasing designs, immaculately kept lawns and well-groomed hedges and flower beds . This style of gardening gained enormous popularity between 1850 and 1890, an era best noted as the Victorian period.

yard 08 pic for blog

Ornate edging in the form of plantings, and hedges were planted (and trimmed to perfection) to create the sharp and straight lines that Victorian gardens are so well known for.


The Victorian garden has always been all about show. It is a garden that is meant to be noticed, looked at, wandered through and admired. They are high-maintenance gardens – but are in no way supposed to look that way. I suspect that those who adopt this type of garden love to spend time maintaining them.


When planting the flower beds, the objective is the bolder the better. Flamboyant colour choices and vivid hues are HUGE in a Victorian garden. Beds of bold and beautiful flowers are typically planted along borders or within rectangular or circular beds. Always did you see crisp edges and immaculately kept grass around them. Gravel, or stone pavers were then used to create garden pathways throughout the gardens to add a sense of unity to the overall look of the garden, and in some cases, to separate the beds from one another.

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The Victorians often had access to a wide range of exotic plants from around the world and their use in the garden was seen as a sign of wealth and prestige. Often they would make the exotic plant the centerpiece of a planting or container, and in many cases used greenhouses to propagate and maintain these plants in the off season.


Green grass surrounding the gardens - the lawns in Victorian times were always immaculately kept and managed.


In more modern Victorian gardens the lawns may be somewhat minimized and replaced by paved areas for seating and relaxing.


Examples of common flowers found in a Victoria garden include bluebells, impatiens, petunias, verbena, zinnia, chrysanthemums, geraniums, begonias, nasturtium, hollyhocks and snapdragons.


For the Victorian gardener, it is all about being bold. They want to put their gardens on a stage for everyone to see. (in my case…for you guys, as most of my garden efforts are in the back yard where not many even know they exist!)



Planting things like marigolds and coleus or pansy will lend only to enhance this type of garden.


Ornaments such as cement or metal benches, urns, fountains, sundials, sculptures and birdbaths are all common features in a Victorian garden.


They are often left untouched with brightly colored paints, as to lend a feeling of natural beauty to the garden.


In my case, I don’t have ornate sundials or things as such…I tend to use ‘olden’ things, (or things that I build/create) that are pretty that will offset the flowers in the displays I create with them.


Structures such as building foundations, sheds, and fences are viewed by the Victorian gardener as unsightly necessities, and are often camouflaged with vines, plantings or potted displays.



Keeping in mind that there are several key elements in a Victorian garden, always remember that there is always flexibility in how each gardener will use the different components.

Where do I begin to create my own Victorian Garden you ask???

Here’s the DIY of it all…the fundamentals if you will:

Begin by planting a fine blade grass in your garden. Soft and luxurious lawns that are immaculately manicured on a regular basis are a mainstay to a Victorian garden. Every edge must be cut and squared off to create a polished look.


When possible, thick shrubs and hedges may be planted around the edge of your garden to hide property lines and fences, as well as to create privacy.


Strategically place some trees in your garden. You can use any type of tree however weeping willows, weeping birches and other interesting and unusual trees are the most popular additions to the traditional Victorian garden. The trees will provide a source of shade, and add interest to the garden. Some trees are even used to create topiaries to add interest or planted to become focal points in different areas of the space.


Fencing depending on the style of fence you use, you can always grow some vines or plant hedges to hide the structures. If you choose an ornately decorated fence, having a vine here and there is not out of the question, but is not a necessity, as it will only add beauty and interest to the garden! Oh how I wish I had either a lot more vines, or a beautiful cast iron fence!

I discuss hiding an unsightly structure in your garden here

july 2 2006 069

Flowers….DO NOT FORGET THE FLOWERS!! The more the merrier, the bigger the better the brighter…well you get the idea…Just make sure you are arranging them in an appealing and eye catching way!

july 2 2006 089

You could make all the flowers one height…or you can plan your flower beds and make them graduating in height from lowest growing in the front to tallest in the back. I teach you all about the planning of a flower bed here.


I am offering another short list of common Victorian favorites:

Azalea, Holly, Hydrangea, Rose, Lilac, Forsythia, Andromeda, Barberry, Peony and Quince. Prized vines might include: Clematis, Ivy, Wisteria, Morning Glory and Honeysuckle.
Commonly planted perennials and annuals include: Delphinium, Aster, Alyssum, Chrysanthemum, Tulip, Pansy, Violet, Lavender, Daylily, Hosta and Yarrow.


Keep in mind, that the Victorians LOVED their flowers, and the list of favorites is far to long for me to publish to you. I recommend planting what YOU like to see…it seems to me that the Victorians did!


Add yourself a little garden art.


Go with your gut.


I discussed above the different types of things that were traditional to the Victorian Garden, but you are the gardener…and what pleases your eye…is perfect.


Go ahead, add a little whimsy! However I would not recommend garden gnomes and the like…they may not be quite formal or fancy enough for a Victorian Style Garden.


Well planned plantings, and ornamental garden props will go a long way in reshaping your space into one reminiscent of Victorian times.


Whatever your budget, the possibilities are endless to capture this romantic era in your yard, no matter if you live in a simple cottage, modern bungalow….or whatever style of house. You absolutely do not have to live in one of the lovely and esteemed ‘painted ladies’ to successfully create with Victorian style.

Do you garden Victorian Style? If so…share it! Flaunt it on Friday for all the world to see…If not…what is YOUR favorite garden design style? I’d love to see you flaunt that too!

Friday’s flaunt is JUST around the corner…consider this your personal invitation to join us in this weekly parade of gorgeous and inspiring gardens!

I do hope you all enjoyed your tour of my Victorian Garden. The photos were a collection of years past…to the present day.

Until next time…Happy Gardening!

*)*)*)…to that very special three. And to one in particular- I do love to see you taking such an interest in my site here…I am flattered that you are even emailing my link posts to friends! Thanks for making my life so full!

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Katrina said...

Oh wow, these photos are beautiful. They make me want to go get my gardening gloves on -- wait, I don't have gardening gloves. Okay, so they make me want to go out and BUY some gardening that I can get busy planting some flowers! Seriously, I only wish I had a yard with such pretty flowers. Because I have so many dang kids who trample down any kind of flower that I try to grow, my yard is very plain looking. Ah well. Maybe someday.

I'm already a follower of your blog via GFC, but now I'm also following you on NetworkedBlogs :)

They All Call Me Mom

Becca's Dirt said...

Your have the most beautiful gardens. I didn't know about the Victorian style of gardening but you definately captured it. Wish I had some of your creativity. Have a good day.

The Green Pea said...

Everything is so beautiful. Love all of the color. The old bike in the middle of the flowers is too cute! Thank you for the tour of your garden. It's the best!

Denise McDonough said...

I love your garden! I wish I could grow even one plant lol...
I love the ones surrounding the old bike! beautiful!


Following from Catch a Wave Wednesday! Hope you can check me out :)

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

That was amazing. I never have had trimmed lawn edges so I'm out of the victorian plan there but love the old fashioned flowers. You colors are great. So pretty.

The JR said...

You have the most amazing home yard that I have ever seen.

Your creativity to envision and apply is spectacular!

Katie said...

Your garden is GORGEOUS!! So colorful and cheery! I bet a lot of hardwork goes into that! So beautiful!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful garden! I am inspired to go outside right now and start clipping lawn edges!

Sue said...

Tootsie, what ever style your gardens are-they are FANTASTIC!
And is that your truck? Because I smiled when I saw that---we have a 2005 Sport Trac, same color-that just hit 206,000 miles-and it STILL drives like brand new. But, if you ever want to sell......

Hug a tree with me said...

I'm your newest follower from the hop, check me out at whenever u can:)

Lona said...

Why I never knew you were a Victorian gardener either but it must be true. I think I am a cobbler gardener then. I cobble up a spot here and a spot there. LOL! Your garden beds and flowers always just amaze me with the beauty. I think the edging on your beds is what I love about your garden beds. I need to get mine cut into like yours. Have a wonderful week!

Unknown said...

Following through the Welcome Wednesday hop, I hope you will follow back at

Yvonne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Hi from your latest follower. I found you blog hopping. Love love love your garden. This is something I would love to have if we ever are able to own our own house. I always grew up with gardens cause my dad is an avid gardener and has won competitions for his gardens.I really want to establish a vegetable garden to help save money when feeding our 5 children. I know that they would love to do this. I also want to get chooks. Can't wait to see more. Be sure to check out me out at Sarah

Beth said...

Your flowers are colorful and arranged in a very appealing manner and your lawn is manicured and so very green and lush looking. I love your gardens, Tootsie!
Blessings, Beth

Closer to Lucy said...

AMAZING!!! There are no other words other than I wanna be you!

Lucy is out hopping. Come on by when you get a chance Closer to Lucy

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

This was such a great post as I am a lover of Victorian Style. My tiny little yard is planted in more of a cottage style.
Your yard and flowers are truly amazing! Such beauty.
I understand what you mean that no one knows about your garden since most of it is in the back yard. So is mine and my neighbor's can not even see it. But i can and that is what is important to me.
Do you grow your own flowers? I am assuming that you do since you have your little green house there.
Simply breath taking!!


Diane at My Cottage Garden said...

That's very interesting. I guess those formal gardens, that you see at castles in England (that have the little box hedges in between( would be Victorian then too. I was told they were meant to be viewed from an upper window, but sometimes have shapes that remind me of your beds.

I particularily love your garden that borders the fence with the gate (door?) in the background. Those hostas at the back look amazing.

Thanks for following. I was trying to do the same for yours, but I am not on Facebook and can't see how to do it without that.


Unknown said...

I'm just dropping by from the Be Bop A Blog Hop. After reading, I followed, and then went back and subscribed via feeder!

siteseer said...

I've been so busy and depressed lately that everything is suffering lol. I plan on spending a few days in the yard this weekend. Are you sure all of your flowers and photos are authentic lol? Some of the colors are so vibrant that if I didn't know better... but then I know you and they are real. Absolutely beautiful!!!! I aspire to be more like you in the garden :) Thanks for sharing all of your hard work with us. You bring peace and stability in my life.... bet you didn't know you could do that from afar :) *hugs*

Pam said...

Amazing....the colors, the style, neat and it appeals to the eye. You can tell a lot of hard works goes into your garden....awesome job.

Unknown said...

I'm not quite sure how I got here, but I was on pintrest, tried this link, and WOW! I have so enjoyed the trip through your garden. It is beautiful, and shows a huge amount of work, planning, and love.

I am 76, in a small nursing home, in a small Eastern Montana town. I have done a little gardening outside my window. It started with a birdbath on Mother's Day, and a bird feeder, last year. It has grown some, with more feeders, cement bricks, a painted 5 gal. bucket, bricks and two cobalt bottles and glass water globes from a garage sale two weeks ago. (I get around some on my electric scooter.) I have my favorites, Lobellas, a day lilly, mini carnations, a small clumb of shasta daisys, and little zenias. Not many of most, excepting the lobellas, as each gets a spot in a cememt block. I get many comments on how pretty it is and do enjoy it. I'd love to expand but not sure how much I can push them. hehe. Quite a comedown from living in the Black Hills, and many years before that on a Large Montana ranch, with acres and acres around me,and all my animals. Some of my prettiest flowers then were my birds and peafowl.
Thank you for sharing and passing on what you have learned. I felt quite peaceful admiring all your beauty.

Unknown said...

Absolutely stunning. Love all the mixes of colour. A very happy garden to sit in

Unknown said...

Guauuuu, es lo máximo su hermoso jardín, me dio ideas maravillosas para sembrar flores en mi jardín. graciaaaaaaaaaaaas.

Mama Miah said...

Wow, these are really inspiring photos! Very beautiful gardens... would love to have one of my own in the future too... :)

Unknown said...

Hi. I am fairly new to landscaping and gardening. My mother always kept our yard so beautiful when my siblings and I were growing up. She has since passed away, so I am very open to learning as much as I can in order to continue her tradition of creating such a beautiful, peaceful environment. I have seen so many wonderful pictures and gotten so many wonderful ideas from multiple websites. I was browsing Pinterest for more ideas and came across your website. I LOVE THIS WEBSITE. You have offered so many great ideas and beautiful pictures. THANK YOU. It will take me some time to get through all of this new advice, but I will enjoy reading and learning and will have a beautiful yard to come to everyday.

Unknown said...

Hi after much searching I found you from a pic on pinterest that sent me to a stupid website (that wasn't yours and didn't have the pic I was seeing on pinterest). Anyway, this is exactly what I was looking for! Tips/guidelines for victorian style gardening. I am a new follower now! I wondered in the pic with the grill and all the teapots on shelves, you have a flower that almost looks like it would be kale or something to the lower left of the grill ( this is the pic I'm referring to. What are these flowers? I'm in Buffalo, NY zone 5 so I think I can grow them if you're growing them in Alberta! I'm so glad I found you being a northern gardener really helps me out. Keep sharing! Thanks for all you do! Kelliesue G.

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Tootsie said...

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