In the busy modern world, it’s appealing to think that your garden can be a peaceful place to escape to, a place that takes you back in time and away from the abruptness of day-to-day life. Creating a vintage garden is something anyone can do, even if they only have a small space to work with, but it does take a degree of skill and careful planning to create the perfect disorganized look.
Unlike modern gardens, vintage gardens need to get away from symmetry and straight lines for a more organic look. Trees and tall shrubs, archways and trellises with hanging plants are great for breaking up a rectangular space and giving visitors the feeling that it’s somewhere to be explored. Consider creating a hidden arbor or a small lawn with a stone birdbath on it. Steppingstones make a romantic alternative to paths. Climbing plants help walls to blend into the garden.
A vintage garden needs softer tones than those popular today. Traditional pink and white roses work beautifully, as do blue and purple-toned plants such as violets, delphiniums, Rozanne geraniums and hydrangeas. Plants such as stachys and macleaya, with their soft gray-green leaves, set the perfect background tone. Dog roses, wisteria and honeysuckle are a perfect choice where there are suitable structures for them to climb. Clover on the lawn adds just the right note to complete a tapestry of scent.
This sort of garden is ideally suited to reclaimed furniture, especially white-painted wickerwork and wrought iron. Old porch rocking chairs and swing seats can look fantastic. Don’t forget to add some furniture that other residents of the garden can use such as birdhouses and bird feeders.
Vintage paraphernalia will complete the look of your garden. Avoid actual antiques, but don’t be afraid to mix and match items from the last few decades, repainting them where necessary and repurposing them where possible. Old pots, jars and pieces of crockery are particularly useful for holding small pots (as long as you allow for drainage) and often look good in small clusters. Larger items can also have their place, such as an old wooden drawer used to create a raised bed or an old colander repurposed as a hanging basket.
Although a vintage garden should look unplanned, it shouldn’t look overgrown. Modern tools, such as lawnmowers and hedge shears, may not work very well in these more varied spaces, but you can get suitable gardening equipment on sites such as Pat’s Small Engine Plus . Pruning and weeding are the most time-consuming tasks in a garden like this. There is one trick that can help with the latter, however, and that’s planting a tough competitor in areas where weeds keep coming back – a plant such as apple mint, which is well-suited to the vintage look and can also out-weed the weeds.
Whether working or relaxing, you’ll find that this kind of garden is always a delight – peaceful yet beguiling, a space in which to exercise the imagination. Long evenings and dewy mornings, lazy afternoons and lamp lit nights will see you fall in love with your creation.
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