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How to Plant Italian Gardens

Planting and Designing Italian Gardens


Having decided upon a style for our Outdoor room

and regardless of whether it will be styled on a Renaissance villa or

a rustic Tuscan landscape we can now really begin getting excited at

the prospect of actually designing a garden, because from here on in

the process becomes very creative indeed. If, as I suggested in my previous

article, we decide upon a fusion of both formal and informal styles,

and once we have decided upon the space in the garden where we would

like to create both these areas, then we are ready to begin planning

the structure for the entire garden- What fun!

garden design Italy

Most beautiful gardens have a very defined structure that harmonizes

both formal and informal and space and form, so essential to creating

beauty in the garden. However a good structure highlights the relationship

between differing forms set within defined green spaces. Every plant

has it’s own preferred natural form; some round and obtuse like Viburnum

tinus and others tall and slender like the Tuscan cypress tree All shapes

have their own identity and in turn they will all have an effect on

the overall visual effect within the garden.

Therefore it should go

without saying that the arrangement of plants within any ‘green space’

is fundamental to the success of the garden! A formal style, as I explained,

is based on a solid and generally geometric form, designed within an

accommodating green space.

garden design Italy

Despite having a loose and natural feel, the informal area of the garden

should also be designed on a logical structure that compliments its

space. The differing plant shapes and forms should not just be simply

‘thrown’ together in a confusing mess, as this will display to the world

a complete and utter disregard for natural logic and a total lack of

sensibility towards natural beauty! There is a strict and intelligent

logic that governs and maintains nature’s beauty in such pristine condition!

By understanding the logic that governs this natural beauty we can emphasize

and underline beautiful elements in our own gardens very simply. If

we consider that evergreen plants provide the backbone (‘Form’) of the

garden, then naturally we should also consider their positioning very,

very carefully indeed. Care must be taken to maintain spacing (Scale)

between their plantings asgarden design Italy

this provides the ‘Space and form’ that forms the base of the living

painting, upon which everything else will then be painted! This backbone

becomes even more evident during the winter months, when the bare deciduous

trees reveal the hidden shapes and the relationship between these various

shapes becomes apparent, and all the more important.

The symmetrical, needle like form of a Tuscan Cypress tree

reaching to the heavens clearly evokes a completely different reaction

in human perception than that of a spherical bush or spiky succulent.

However when they are combined and planted together in close proximity

they each stimulate a complimentary influence on the other i.e. the

cypress seems sharper and the sphere more spherical and so on! Understanding

some of these rules could help people avoid making the most simple yet

drastic of terminal green faux-pas when creating their dream Italian


Ever wondered why there are so many cypress trees around Tuscan farmhouses?

I will be providing a plant profile of the mysterious cypress tree and

many other plants in a later issue.

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