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Design Considerations

The most basic design principals of an Arts and Crafts garden are the tying in of the building, be it country cottage or bungalow, into the garden that surrounds it. This can be done by the placement of large shrubs and trees in the eaves of the house as well as vines trailing up the face of the building. Another basic design feature would be the use of long straight lines for the English style and straight to naturally curving lines for the American style. Another very important detail in the designing would be the use of outdoor rooms separated by brick walls or hedges with handcrafted iron fence gates that sometimes allow passage to the adjacent outdoor rooms. The design of the garden should be very orderly and geometrical, with paths and plantings in areas of geometric shapes such as rectangles, triangles, or circles, however, the plantings should be in moderately large masses that are allowed to grow into one another and spill over the retaining walls, grow into cracks, or vines to climb onto standing structures such as aforementioned pergolas, trellises, and building facades. Lastly, a necessary design consideration would be the home to which the garden is to surround. This home should be of natural materials, either of wood, brick, or stone. As well, this home should have long horizontal lines that help the garden to easily meld into the home as a single entity.

Plants Used in an Arts and Crafts Garden.:
Arts and Crafts gardens used woody ornamentals, herbaceous perennials, annuals, and vines together to show a complete balance in the design.
Vines often were seen trailing over pergolas, trailing over walls or climbing the rock faces of homes in the Arts and Crafts gardens. Some such vines one would see in an Arts and Crafts garden would include wisteria, clematis, Virginia creeper, climbing or rambling rose, and English ivy.

Wisteria sinensis (Japanese Wisteria) is a fast growing woody vine that grows fragrant lavender racemes of flowers that bloom in late may through June. IT is available at Deckers Nursery in Groveport, OH.

Clematis sp. (Clematis) is a less hardy vine which has purple, pink, yellow, and white flowers approximately 2 inches in diameter, blooming from august through October. It can be found at Deckers Nursery inn Groveport, OH.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) is a woody vine that climbs by tendrils. It is has dark green summer foliage and early purple to red fall color. It can be purchased at

Rosa sp. (rose, climbing /rambling varieties) can be trained to climb over pergolas and up walls. The flowers can be white, pink, yellow, red, and any color between of various scents and sizes. Many varieties of rambling and can be purchased at based out of Canada, unfortunately they do not send to the US.

Hedera helix (English ivy) is an evergreen vine with dark glossy green foliage, however it can be detrimental to what it grows on due to its method of climbing. Use this to climb over arbors and pergolas. This can be can be found at Decker's Nursery in Groveport, OH.
Left: a Clematis Flower.

Trees in the arts and crafts garden were important to help tie the house into the garden by giving the vertical and mid level plants that drew the horizontal lines of the gables and the eaves down to the ground. Some such plants include the flowering dogwood, Japanese maple, and the Star magnolia.

Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood) is small, vertically branched tree with greenish yellow flowers with 4 white bracts which appear for approximately 2 weeks from April to May. It also has a maroon fall color. A pink bract variety can be found at Decker's Nursery in Groveport, OH.

Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) is a small tree to large shrub similar to the growth habit of the dogwood. There are smaller cut leaf and red varieties. The species has yellow to red fall color. The 'Bloodgood' cultivar can be purchased at Decker's Nursery in Groveport, OH.

Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) is a small, dense, oval to rounded tree or bush. This tree has fragrant white star shaped flowers, 3 to 4 inches in diameter in mid to Late April north of the Ohio River.

Iris sp. (Iris) has an upright clump appearance with flowers that grown on upright stalks with and purple, blue, yellow or white bell shaped blooms. Several cultivars of Iris siberica are available at Millcreek Gardens in Ostrander, OH.

Helianthus x multiflorus (Multi-flowered Sunflower) grows 3 to 5 feet tall and form a dense clump. The flowers are doubled and yellow appearing in late summer and fall. This can be ordered from Hallson Gardens in Brooklyn, MI.

Lilium sp. (Lilly) is available in colors and forms depending upon species and cultivar. Color varies from whites, oranges, pinks, reds and variegated mixes of these colors. These plants grow usually in a clump form with a flower stalk of 18-24" with bell shaped flowers. Several species of Lilies are available at Hallson Gardens in Brooklyn, MI.

Lupines (Lupine) have flower stalks 3 to 4 feet tall and 12 inch flower spikes. The flowers come in white, red, purple, blue, pink, yellow, and orange. This can be purchased at based out of Santa Rosa, CA.

Arabis caucasica (rockcress) is a plant that grows easily out of the crevices of a wall that is found desirable in an Arts and Crafts garden. Rockcress has white flowers that appear any time from March until May. You may purchase seeds of rockcress from,which is based out of Oregon.

Annuals are not often used in an arts and crafts garden, however when they are utilized it gives full growing season color to the area where they are grown. Annuals in the Arts and Crafts garden are often allowed to self-seed and spread from year to year. A couple of annuals I have seen numerous times in arts and crafts gardens include the snapdragon and nasturtium.

Antirrhinum sp. (Snapdragon) is another plant that could grow in the cracks of walls. These semi hardy annuals come in many pale colors of white, pink, orange, reds, and yellows. Seeds for snapdragon may be purchased at

Tropaeloum sp. (Nasturtium) grows very easily. They have a tendency to climb and sprawl. Their flowers are red, yellow, or orange. You can purchase Nasturtium at

Shrubs and Hedges:
Hedges in the Arts and Crafts garden were a very intragal part of many designs that insisted on the compartmentalization of gardens into outdoor rooms. These shrub Hedges were a nice change from the stonewalls that would have otherwise served this separating function. Also, topiaries were sometimes incorporated into the arts and Crafts gardens. Some such shrubs used for hedging and topiaries include the English Yew and Virginia Juniper.

Taxus baccata (English Yew) can be a large tree or shrub up to 60 feet tall if untrimmed with dense dark green evergreen foliage. This is a zone 6 and 7 plant. This shrub will make excellent hedges when planted and used properly. Taxus X media may be substituted in zones 4 to 7, but only when one wishes to hedge the plant, it will not reach the same heights as the English yew when un shorn. Taxus x media is available at Four Mile Nursery in Canby, OR.

Ilex Opaca (American holly) can be hedged as well. It has evergreen, glossy dark green leaves, and female plants when grown with male plants have red orange fruit. American Holly, though not grown in England in the original Arts and Crafts gardens, I belive is suitable replacement for what Gertrude Jekyll called "Green Holly."

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