English Garden Style for a Romantic Outdoor Retreat
Jun 11

Stepping into an English Wonderland

Ah, the quintessential English garden – a vision of lush greenery, bursts of vibrant blooms, and an air of whimsical romance that transports you to a different world. As a self-proclaimed lover of all things British (complete with a fondness for tea and a penchant for speaking in a slightly exaggerated accent), I’ve always been captivated by the timeless charm of these enchanting outdoor oases.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dive headfirst into the world of English garden-inspired design, and let me tell you, it was an absolute delight. Picture this: a sprawling estate in the heart of Georgia, with crumbling brick arches and a historic courtyard that could have been plucked straight from the English countryside. It was the perfect canvas for a romantic, garden-inspired retreat that would make even the Dowager Countess of Grantham nod in approval.

Embracing the Soft and Serene

As the creative team and I set out to breathe life into this project, our primary goal was to capture the essence of traditional English garden style while infusing it with a touch of Southern charm. We wanted to create a space that felt soft, serene, and utterly enchanting, a place where one could easily imagine sipping tea and indulging in lively conversations about the latest Bridgerton scandal.

Photographer Savain Phann and stylist Molly Mckinley were the masterminds behind this dreamy transformation. “Our vision was to take a fresh spin on the English garden classic and bring in a tad of that Southern charm,” Savain explained. “The old brick arches made a pretty dramatic backdrop, and we wanted to soften up the brick with romantic tones throughout the paper goods and seasonal florals.”

Bringing the Vision to Life

As I stepped into this enchanting oasis, I couldn’t help but be awestruck by the attention to detail. The brick arches, standing tall and proud, provided a striking contrast to the delicate, seasonal blooms that cascaded around them. The English-style courtyard, with its meticulously trimmed boxwood hedges, exuded an air of timeless elegance.

Landscape designer Shirley Bovshow’s work also caught my eye, showcasing her incredible talent for transforming even the most challenging spaces into true havens of beauty. “I had an instant design vision for this backyard the moment I saw it,” she recalled. “I envisioned a romantic gazebo in the corner, a new handcrafted wood fence, and a raised tumbled stone wall with a swath of Geranium incanum cascading over it – a country garden retreat.”

Although her initial vision had to be slightly adjusted to accommodate the client’s budget, Shirley’s creative problem-solving skills shone through. She opted for a painted concrete block wall instead of a new fence, and used recycled concrete to build the raised stone planters, all while maintaining the charming, English-inspired aesthetic.

Embracing the Unexpected

One of the most delightful aspects of this project was the way it seamlessly blended the timeless elegance of English garden style with a touch of unexpected Southern charm. The Southern lace and cane chairs that adorned the beautifully set tablescape added a delightful twist, perfectly complementing the romantic florals and softening the drama of the brick arches.

As Houzz magazine notes, “Lay of the Landscape: English-Style Gardens” can often incorporate elements that challenge the traditional expectations, such as the use of unexpected materials or the incorporation of more modern design elements. In this case, the juxtaposition of the Southern and English influences created a truly unique and captivating atmosphere.

Cultivating a Year-Round Oasis

One of the key factors that contributed to the enduring charm of this English-inspired retreat was the careful selection of plants and foliage. Shirley Bovshow, the talented landscape designer, knew that in order to maintain a lush, vibrant garden year-round, she needed to incorporate a diverse array of perennials that would provide a constant flow of color and interest.

“I’m a firm believer in year-round color through perennial plants that flower different times of the year,” Shirley explained. “I do use annuals in containers and focal areas, but I don’t rely on them to carry my gardens.” Her plant selection, which included everything from Cassia leptophylla and Tibouchina urivellana to Hydrangeas and Lavender, ensured that this outdoor oasis would be a feast for the senses no matter the season.

Embracing the Imperfections

One of the things that struck me most about this English garden-inspired retreat was the way it embraced the natural imperfections of the space. The crumbling brick arches, rather than being seen as a flaw, were celebrated as a captivating feature that added to the overall sense of timeless charm and romance.

Sofas Spectacular, the custom sofa company in the UK that commissioned this project, understood the value of allowing the space to evolve organically, rather than forcing it into a rigid, picture-perfect mold. By embracing the unexpected and celebrating the unique character of the site, they were able to create a truly one-of-a-kind outdoor retreat that felt both timeless and utterly enchanting.

A Lesson in Adaptability

As I reflected on the process of bringing this English garden-inspired vision to life, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the adaptability and problem-solving skills showcased by the creative team. When faced with budgetary constraints and practical limitations, they didn’t simply abandon their initial design concept; instead, they rose to the challenge, finding creative ways to achieve the desired aesthetic while staying true to the client’s needs.

As Savain Phann shared, “The old brick arches made a pretty dramatic backdrop, and we wanted to soften up the brick with romantic tones throughout the paper goods and seasonal florals.” By embracing the existing architecture and finding ways to complement it, they were able to craft a space that felt both authentically English and uniquely their own.

A Timeless Retreat for the Senses

As I reluctantly bid farewell to this enchanting English garden-inspired oasis, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of wistfulness. It was a space that had so effortlessly captured the essence of timeless romance and tranquility, a true haven for the senses.

Whether you’re sipping tea while admiring the vibrant blooms, or cozying up on one of Sofas Spectacular’s luxurious custom sofas to take in the serene surroundings, this outdoor retreat promises to transport you to a world of pure bliss. It’s a testament to the power of adaptability, creativity, and a unwavering commitment to capturing the magic of the English garden aesthetic.

So, if you’re dreaming of your own romantic outdoor escape, take a page from this project and embrace the unexpected, celebrate the imperfections, and let your imagination soar. With a little bit of planning, a dash of creativity, and a whole lot of British charm, you too can create a truly enchanting oasis that will leave your guests (and yourself) utterly smitten.

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