Four Essentials for an English-Style Garden in Any Space

What better inspiration than Anouska Hempel's stunning country estate?

If you tend to swoon over formal English gardens (like we do), exploring the grounds of designer Anouska Hempel's Cole Park estate is like entering into a fantasy. Clipped boxwoods line  herringbone-brick walkways, gravel paths lead under ceilings of wisteria, and all of it is surrounded by an actual, unironic moat. But its enveloping nooks and orderly allées don't need to live exclusively on our pinboards. In her new self-titled book, Hempel illustrates her envy-inducing green thumb in ways that are achievable in any garden. Read on for the elements we'd love to (and actually could) bring into our own outdoor spaces. 

All photos © Anouska Hempel by Marcus Binney, Rizzoli New York, 2015
All photos © Anouska Hempel by Marcus Binney, Rizzoli New York, 2015

1. Sure, we may not possess the acreage for a garden path so impressive it disappears into the distance, but one simple design element here is completely achievable—the herringbone pathway. Whether it's hardwood or shower tile, this classic pattern evokes an old-world grace that lends a sense of history to any space. Framing it with carefully clipped hedges and a pair of decorative pillars or architectural arches doesn't hurt either.

Four Essentials for an English-Style Garden in Any Space

2. Part of the allure of Hempel's handiwork is that she creates surprisingly intimate open-air rooms, even in the dead of winter. Of course we'd all love to have a set of perfectly pruned lime trees to define our outdoor dining area, but consider the gravel "carpet" that also sets off this space—a DIYable technique that makes dining here seem like a grand occasion. 

Four Essentials for an English-Style Garden in Any Space

3. What's dreamier, or more quintessentially English, than having a leafy, shrub-shrouded walkway leading to your front door? For her city home, Hempel reveals she used evergreen plants such as box, yew, laurel, camellias, and magnolia to counteract dreary London winters. The symmetrical arrangement is also a good trick for creating visual order and making the front door seem farther from the road.

Four Essentials for an English-Style Garden in Any Space

4. Back at Cole Park, we find the shaded outdoor lounge we'd like to spend an entire summer beneath. If you have a backyard, chances are you own a folding umbrella. Surrounding it with informal clusters of clipped shrubs in mixed pots creates an outdoor room with a sense of privacy, and defines the area from the grassy sprawl beyond.

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