How to create an irresistibly romantic garden….

February 12th, 2017
Posted In: Decorations/parties, Garden style & living

What is a romantic garden?

Everyone will have their own definition. So with Valentine’s Day looming up, I’ve picked out ten ‘romantic garden’ ideas.

Romantic garden ideas

Just a little bit wild…

A romantic garden always has something hidden away. You can’t quite see everything.

This is a corner of a garden called Tara Tieve near Melbourne in Australia. Parts of the garden are smartly cared-for. But this little shady area shows how important it is to have secret spots where nature appears to be gently and beautifully taking over.

Vintage gates

A close-up of a Victorian ‘heart’ gate at Tieve Tara, Melbourne, Australia.

Soft, exuberant planting and old-fashioned plants

Soft, subtle colours and billowy blooms make a romantic garden planting. Garden maker Posy Gentles describes the colour palette in her own garden as ‘being like old lady’s knickers’.

Romantic garden plantings

Romantic soft peach and hints of pink in Posy Gentles’ ‘old ladies knickers’ colour scheme.

I always thought she meant that ‘old ladies knickers’ were the baggy (sometimes knitted) underwear in over-washed soft peaches, pinks and off-whites that hung on washing lines in the 1960s and 70s.

Posy actually means those delicate silk and crepe-de-chine scraps of pale peach or pink lingerie and lace found in charity shops when very elegant old ladies die.

Romantic plantings

My French garden chair again – I think hydrangeas are romantic plants because they’re in soft ‘old lady knickers’ colours, and are blowsy and slightly old-fashioned.

Romantic garden gates

Garden gates have always been romantic. Perhaps it’s because they stand between the public road and the intimacy of a private home or garden.

Victorian garden gate

A Victorian garden gate in Norwich, England.

Romantic garden gates

This 1960s gate in Faversham is painted in a soft, romantic blue and looks wonderful against a mass of erigeron.

Romantic garden gates

Victorian ‘heart’ gate at Tieve Tara, near Melbourne, Australia.

To buy antique or vintage garden gates, either search a local reclamation yard. Or Google ‘vintage gate’. You will get hundreds of results, many for sale through architectural salvage yards, eBay or other online auctions.

You can also find vintage designs in newly made galvanised garden gates here.

Note: There are some affiliate links in this post, which means you can click through to buy. If you do, I may get a small fee.

For the romance of discovery – the garden path

Romantic garden paths

A romantic path is just a little bit over-grown. Where does it lead? We have to follow it to find out. This is at Doddington Place Gardens in Kent.

Garden furniture

You don’t have to have hearts and flowers to make your garden furniture romantic.

Although I do love my French wrought iron heart chairs, bought from a depot vente in the South of France for £20 each in the early 1990s. We brought four of them back to England on top of the car, which presumably cost us a fortune in petrol.

Snow on romantic garden furniture

Snow is definitely romantic. And it looks more romantic on wrought iron furniture….

New wrought-iron garden furniture, such as this set from Charles Bentley, is widely available.

There’s more about garden furniture here.

There’s lots of second-hand metal garden furniture around too. Check your local junk shops regularly. Faversham (Kent), is just around an hour and a half from London. It has a vintage and antique fair on the first Sunday of every month. There’s always vintage garden furniture in the mix somewhere.

Faversham Antiques & Vintage Market

Faversham’s Antiques & Vintage Market is on the first Sunday of every month.

Whether you buy new or second-hand, your furniture will look a bit more special if you paint it. We painted our French garden chairs in a soft grey, very similar to this Winter Grey Chalk Paint.

When choosing a colour, bear in mind that colours look paler outside than they do inside. Our grey garden chairs look white outside. But the grey-white is less harsh that an a pure ‘white’ white.

Paint romantic garden furniture

A close-up of the French garden chair. It looks ‘white’ but is actually a pale to mid-grey tone.

Somewhere to sit and talk

A romantic London cottage garden

Julie Quinn’s London cottage garden – abundant planting and a strongly defined use of colour. See more about this garden on Julie’s blog London Cottage Garden.

Romantic garden benches

A slightly curved bench, like this one at Clinton Lodge, Sussex, makes it easier for two people to chat. Clinton Lodge opens for the NGS.

Romantic lanterns and lighting

If you don’t have electricity in your garden, then solar lighting is now both effective and inexpensive. I’ve had two strings of Blingstring Solar Fairy Lights in the garden for more than six months. Both are still working.

Blingstring solar fairy lights

We strung these round a pergola in August. In the summer, they last almost all night. In the winter when nights are longer and there is less solar light, they go off around 2am.

They were sent to me for review, so I have both the warm white and the blue light. I rather like the contrast of the two together, but it’s always worth checking you get the one you wanted.

Romantic tea lights

Use glass jars or glasses for nightlights in gardens.

Cushions and rugs

Faded, vintage cushions and rugs make a garden look romantic.

Romantic garden furniture ideas

Hugo and Anna Campbell make the most of a small space – comfortable cushions for seating and storage under the bench.

Vintage cushions and furniture.

Vintage cushions in Posy Gentles’ garden. Photo by Caroline Garland.

And roses are romantic

'Lover's Meeting' rose

This 1970s rose in a neighbour’s garden is called ‘Lover’s Meeting’. She says she chose it because her house is on a corner and she likes to think of lovers arranging to meet there. It seems to flower for nine months of the year.

Romantic climbing roses.

Climbing and rambling roses are romantic. These are on a wall at Goodnestone Park Gardens.

Romantic pots

Romantic pots

I think romantic pots are bursting with colour. This is lavender, purple petunias and Panicum ‘Shenandoah.’

Edgeware Road Tube station planter

This pot, surprisingly, is at Edgeware Road tube station. It’s an ordinary concrete planter, painted a pale pink. Looks great, I think! Very romantic for a railway station – although, in themselves, stations are quite romantic places.

And, of course, a romantic shed

Romantic shed

There are so many romantic sheds out there – but I think that if I have to pick one, then this one by garden designer and topiarist Charlotte Molesworth must be the one. It was converted from an old swimming pool changing room, using found wood and Charlotte’s creative talents.

Let me know about romantic gardens you’ve been to, either in the comments below or on the Middlesized Garden Facebook Page.

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9 comments on "How to create an irresistibly romantic garden…."

  1. I was thrilled to see such a lovely picture of our back garden in your piece. Thanks for the inclusion and yes, a place to sit and chat can be very romantic indeed.

  2. Sue Sutherland says:

    I have a wonderful book by Graham Rose called The Romantic Garden published in 1988. It’s full of amazing ideas, illustrations and pictures that you can adapt even for a tiny garden. I don’t know if it’s still in print but I’ve found it inspirational. I also love Redwood Stone who always have a stand at Chelsea. They don’t mind if you just want a few bits and pieces rather than a whole folly and are very helpful.
    We are now tackling a new garden in Trafford, Greater Manchester and I value your posts very much Alexandra. Thank you.

  3. Andy says:

    Goodnestone is very romantic as is Sissinghurst. Hidden corners and meandering paths are essential as is some element of the ‘pastoral’ or ‘picturesque’.

    1. Of course, how could I leave Sissinghurst out?

  4. Posy says:

    Lovely article but let me nip this knicker confusion in the bud before it becomes an imbroglio! I meant the soft greyish pinks, peaches and creams of the old knickers and petticoats we used to find in jumble sales, pre-nylon, pre-lycra, pre-thong. From the days when one might find a pattern of small rose buds rather than Homer Simpson adorning your bottom. It is the age of the knickers, not the wearer, that is significant and knitted knickers (The horror! How have they made their way into an article about romance?) have not yet informed my choice of roses.

    1. Glad we cleared that up! I have been under the wrong impression for years…

  5. Lucie says:

    Lovely piece and pics. Thanks for the mench. X

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