Gothic gardening can bring ideas of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Victorian books, but Gothic backyard layout simply follows the architectural style predominant in Western Europe at the moment; in the 12th century, Gothic structure has been characterized by thin vertical pillars and tall pointed arches, with a focus on height and open spaces.
The Victorians adored the Gothic style and revived it, both in their architecture — such as the British Houses of Parliament, in London — and within their furniture, backgrounds and cloth design, like that of the Arts and Crafts entrepreneur William Morris. It’s this Victorian Gothic revival style we are familiar with and that we are able to use to our advantage to create gardens of mystery and serenity.
Many characteristics of Gothic style, for instance, careful positioning of stonework and statues combined with natural, even wayward, plantings, can fit comfortably in gardens today without turning them into a pastiche of a horror film. Combined with the medieval love of decadent decoration and abundant colors, intriguing elements of the Gothic style could be woven into modern garden design.
Does Your House Have a Medieval Heritage?
Lenkin Design Inc: Landscape and Garden Design
Gothic gardens can offer the feeling of refuge we look for in our gardens today, allowing us to escape the stresses of modern life. Although the early period in Europe was unsettled, to say the least, with conflict, civil wars and outbreaks of the Black Death, the enclosed gardens constructed during those times provided some kind of respite from the horrors of daily life.
Through the accession of easy stonework and statuary, and the selection of plants which grow naturally, providing an almost unkempt feel, a Gothic-style garden could be a refuge without too much maintenance.
Without doubt, I think this style of garden design can bring a feeling of serenity not generally associated with the term”Gothic.” I like to think that the naturalistic plantings create enclosure, such as embracing arms, while the statues and older stonework bring ideas of yesteryear, echoes of antiquity which aren’t in any way frightening.
Gothic Garden Features
The pointed arch is with no doubt one of the very Gothic architectural capabilities. Often seen from the majestic Gothic cathedrals of northern France and England, the pointed arch shot over for the more curved Romanesque arch in the 12th century. Here it is used as a gorgeous gateway, setting the scene to the Gothic-style garden inside.
Common Ground Landscapes
Enclosed Gothic gardens do not need to be both black and claustrophobic. Gothic buildings, like the great medieval cathedrals of Europe, were light and airy, with a fantastic sense of space. Open fencing with narrow, upright rods will help create the feeling of verticality so beloved by Gothic architects.
To most, Gothic gardens inspire mysterious ideas, but stonework does not need to attract dreams of cemeteries and tombstones. Arched windows, pillars or even only sections of stonework can add that touch of mystery while at the same time creating a fantastic frame for climbing plants. Old stonework are discovered in reclamation lawns; sensible reproductions, like these, are also offered.
With climbers twining through, this wooden framework serves the same purpose as stonework. Though simple in design, it has the Gothic features of space and height while at the same time providing a frame for climbing plants. If you consider yourself useful, it would be rather simple to assemble this framework using a hardwood which will weather to a nice warm grey.
Lenkin Design Inc: Landscape and Garden Design
The careful use of statues really brings the Gothic feel to a backyard — angels or mythical creatures being the favored types. Mature, weathered statues are greatest, but you are able to paint new ones with live yogurt to get a fantastic growth of algae, making them look older.
Unlike formal gardens, where statues are isolated and showcased, statues from the Gothic setting are inclined to be nearly hidden by climbers. Ivy is possibly the preferred, but easy white climbing roses, such as the Sally Holmes increased shown here, can offer a stunning contrast to the stonework.
Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates
Plants of a Gothic Garden
Roses ought to be contained on your Gothic backyard. They were a favorite in medieval art and tapestries, and even the Victorians, such as William Morris, utilized them in backgrounds and cloth design.
Go for the simple colors and forms; white and red bush or climbing roses produce a classic feel, though a number of the modern David Austin roses would also offer a rather wild, intimate look growing through stonework or implanted in aged urns or containers.
The New York Botanical Garden
A real winner is an improved that unites both strong Gothic colors and conjures the medieval improved Rosa damascena‘Versicolor’, which was stated to unite the increased colors of the Houses of York and Lancaster, which battled over England from the Wars of the Roses.
This modern improved variety, floribunda George Burns, would make a perfect replacement for your Rosa damascena, though it does have traces of yellowish inside a number of the blooms.
Beertje Vonk Artist
The ideal white sands climbed for scrambling throughout slopes and stonework is Rosa filipes‘Kiftsgate’. In early to mid-July it is coated in panicles of white blooms and looks like a cascading waterfall.
This recommendation comes with a warning, however. I’ve seen it growing in its birthplace, Kiftsgate Gardens, which is just down the lane in the famous Hidcote Gardens from the English Cotswolds, also it is a rampant climber, developing high into the tops of mature trees.
Fullmer’s Landscaping, Inc
Evergreen English ivy, Hedera helix’Thorndale’ (shown here),is another mainstay of Gothic planting. Let it scramble over stonework and develop walls to soften lines, or use it like a fantastic ground cover even in the deepest of shade.
Ivy is pleased to grow on wire supports, therefore it is easy to create easy topiary shapes which will be quickly covered by the ivy.
Zeterre Landscape Architecture
Here scaling plants are used in an entirely different manner, turning brickwork into virtually living architecture, reminiscent of buttresses of Gothic buildings.
Troy Rhone Garden Design
With weathered stonework and statues combined with the dark foliage of ivy and roses, you would feel a Gothic garden would be rather funereal.
But Gothic style also comprises the rich colors of the medieval period. Plants with flowers of dark blue, deep red and purple, echoing the brocades and velvets of the period, stand out from dark foliage and light up the backyard with the brightness of a William Morris wallpaper.
Earthwork Landscape Architects
Even the skeletons of long-dead plants can be utilized to advantage in the Gothic backyard by helping to offer a feeling of mystery and enchantment. Here the vines of dead ivy cover a construction wall and have taken over the landscape.
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
When the garden is complete, plants are left to their own devices and the right atmosphere has been created, it’s time to sit — on your Gothic pointed-arch chair, naturally — to delight in the calmness and mystery you have created.
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