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GARDENING: Sun-kissed gardens of romance

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A tranquil space can be alluring and serene, with a stylish elegance that is both bold and beautiful.

What makes a garden romantic? Is it a garden of timeless beauty, of mystery and delight? A serene place of forest shadows and shade?

Perhaps a romantic garden should delight the senses with the murmur of water, rustling leaves and whispering grasses? Or perhaps you need beautiful flowers and sweet fragrances?

Consider these five design styles for creating the backdrop to your romantic dreams this summer.

1 Classic romance

Plant lavender and other fragrant plants near a romantic patio. Picture: Kay Montgomery

A classic romantic garden is a serene haven for lovers and is to be found in the pages of a Jane Austen novel. It is a garden with a simple harmonious design. It is stylish, has a sense of order and a limited colour palette.

A contemporary formal classic garden does not necessarily reflect the symmetry and mirror images of classic gardens, but there is still a balance.

For example, clusters of clipped box balls on one side of the garden will balance a hedge on the other side.

As an intimate garden, the contemporary classic romantic garden lends itself to contemplation. It is usually enclosed by walls or evergreen hedges, with beds of flowers (iceberg roses are a favourite) enclosed by low, clipped hedges.

In this garden, focal points are tasteful and constrained. Plant up urns of scented roses, install a central rectangular pool where sky and clouds are reflected or add a life-size statue framed by greenery.

2 French romance

The French romantic style requires a geometrically laid out garden. In the French style, incorporate the straight lines of a formal garden with a grid system of paths.

An example of a romantic French garden is “Giverny”, the private garden of Impressionist painter Claude Monet. Here, romance begins with a charming pink house with green shutters that looks out on to a tapestry of fragrance and colour.

Colour is taken skywards with flower tunnels of climbing roses, clematis and wisteria. There are parasols of pink and scarlet roses sheltering clusters of white daisies. You will see ribbons of frilled irises, voluptuous peonies and oriental poppies, as well as agapanthus and flowering bulbs.

3. Romantic pink

The rose-pink foliage of the Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’) creates seasonal interest and is especially useful in smaller gardens. Picture: Supplied

The colour palette of a romantic garden is often soft and muted. It includes pretty pinks, misty mauves and silvery greys. These colours fit into the floral landscape and are perfect for creating a secret hideaway – a place to dream.

The confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum) with its feathery green foliage and tiny pink flowers adds softness to spires of snapdragons and angelonias, and the silver-grey foliage of Artemisia “Powis Castle” is woven among the pretty pastels.

4 Romantic red

Red roses are the epitome of romance. Pictured, ‘Flame of Fantasy’. Picture: Lukas Otto

No flower has provoked more romantic and passionate feelings than the rose. Poets have written sonnets, painters have captured their perfection on canvas and gardeners have fallen under their spell.

Red roses are the essence of love and romance. Plant a rich tapestry of crimson and ruby red to create a romantic hideaway. Choose the plum, copper and burgundy-leafed Prunus, Leptospermum “Cherry Brandy”, canna, cordyline, Berberis thunbergii “Rose Glow”, Phormium “Chocolate Baby” with velvety red snapdragons, satiny red dahlias, sultry red day lilies, dianthus and snapdragons, and with dark blue and purple agapanthus and Salvia “Black and Blue”.

5 Moonlight and fragrance

The confetti bush (Coleonema pulchellum) is an aromatic shrub with star-like pink flowers. Picture: Kay Montgomery

There is a simple elegance and charm in a garden designed to be at its best in the evening.

A moonlight and fragrance garden invites you to dream in the twilight.

It is a garden of enchantment, where a still pool reflects the starlit sky, and where white flowers and silvery foliage take on an iridescent beauty.

Fragrant flowers are part of the charm of a romantic moonlit garden as they release their fragrance in the evening. Plant up the dainty lilac stock (Matthiola bicornis), tuberose, hosta, nicotiana, lily, any number of the jasmines, both indigenous and exotic. Gardenias have scented white blooms, and indigenous buddleja tiny tubular, highly scented flowers.

Place a bench in an arbour covered with scented white roses and star jasmine.

Soft lighting will add to the romantic mood with solar products, low-energy bulbs and candles.


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