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Landscape Design

Victorian Landscape Design

Eight professional tips for designing in this style

  • Victorian Shrubs Continuous plantings of green shrubs with occasional splashes of color exemplify the Victorian style.
  • White Garden Ornaments White garden ornaments contrast beautifully with soothing greenery.
  • Pedestal Urn This pedestal and urn planted with a vibrantly healthy fern makes the perfect focal point for the Victorian garden.
  • Iron Arbor Garden Iron arbors and furniture are a classic Victorian and English garden element.
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Victorian Landscape Design Pdf

Victorian Landscape Style Guide

Use this design sheet to help you create the perfect Victorian-inspired landscape. You'll get ideas for color, décor, materials, plants and fabric. It is a great starting point for any landscaping project.

Victorian Landscape Style Guide (PDF)

View all Landscape Design Style Guides

Lynn's Plant Suggestions

Classic garden plants:
Boxwood
Yew
Magnolia
Spirea
Glossy abelia
Ferns (in urns or hanging pots)
Roses
Azalea
Camellia
Lilac
Peony
Bulbs
Perennials for color

Mediterranean climate plants:
Medium water:
Mayten tree
Duranta erecta
Mutabilis rose
Iceberg rose
Australian bluebell creeper
Heliotrope
Heartleaf geranium
White cyclamen (winter color for small pots)

Low water plants:
Peppermint Tree
White bougainvillea
Fortnight lily (Dietes)
Ornamental sage
Lavender
Dwarf yeddo hawthorn (boxwood substitute)
Ray Hartman California lilac
Toyon
Pacific wax myrtle
True myrtle (Myrtus)
Sweet bay
California bush anemone
White Kalanchoe in pots

The Victorian era blended ornate embellishments with the classic refinement of an English garden. While the manicured hedges and clean lines of the landscape might lead you to believe the Victorians were stuffy, in fact, says landscape designer Donna Lynn, "they had a marvelous sense of experimentation and loved to incorporate exotic plants and whimsical décor touches into the landscape." Lynn has been designing landscapes for over 20 years, and here she shares her professional tips for creating a Victorian-inspired garden.

Dos:

  • Do divide your space into garden rooms. Creating outdoor nooks and divided sections in the garden allows you to have transitions between different color and décor styles throughout the garden. Clipped hedges help define the space without feeling too constricting.
  • Do have fun with garden ornament. Bird baths and fountains, trellises and arbors, and iron furniture all make great features in the Victorian garden.
  • Do use gravel pathways to connect different areas. Gravel was often used in Victorian garden paths because its fine texture recedes visually and allows the hedges and plantings to take center stage. Harmonize the color of the gravel with the color of your home.
  • Do choose urn-shaped pots on pedestals, or hanging planters. The Victorian style is opulent and abundant, so lushly overflowing planters make the perfect focal point in the garden.

Don'ts:

  • Don't let it get messy. "Having lots of detail and visual interest need not look messy if designed right," says Lynn. "Use greenery to create garden structure, and repeat plant species throughout the landscape for a soothing feeling of continuity."
  • Don't leave wood unfinished or use other earthy elements. "The Victorian style is more manicured and has strong attention to detail. Instead of leaving wood unfinished, paint it white for a crisp, bright appearance," says Lynn.
  • Don't use contemporary design elements. While modern and Victorian design share clean lines, the similarities end there. The modern minimalist look, with silver, chartreuse, black and orange, doesn't mesh well with the lavish, old-world colors and décor of the Victorian times.
  • Don't feel limited to pastels or classic English garden plants. "People in the Victorian era loved specimen trees and plants with unusual or weeping forms such as tree ferns or monkey puzzle trees," explains Lynn. "They definitely loved to try new and different plants."

How does the Victorian garden fit into modern times? Lynn says, "My interpretation of a modern-day Victorian-style landscape is lower-maintenance. By creating structure with green shrubs and confining high-maintenance flowers to large urn plantings or groupings of smaller pots, you can enjoy the beauty of a Victorian style with less work." In climates where water use is a concern, "keep lawn areas small or refrain from having lawn altogether," she suggests. "And in Mediterranean climate areas, plants that need little water can be substituted for traditional garden plants."

Lynn's background in art and photography has given her a strong color sense and excellent understanding of design principles. By using 3-D rendering and computer imaging, she creates landscape plans that are easy for clients to visualize and interact with, so her finished landscapes can better reflect the personality of the people she designs for.

Donna Lynn Landscape Design
Santa Barbara, CA

Donna Lynn operates Donna Lynn Landscape Design, a locally based Santa Barbara, CA company and Virtual Home & Garden Design, through which she offers full landscape design nationwide.

Contributing Author:

Genevieve Schmidt, contributing writer for Landscaping Network and owner of North Coast Gardening