Have you ever been “green’ with English Garden envy? I most certainly have. It seems that the US fascination with English gardens is founded in the ideal of quintessential English garden style. But what is that? In my travels and investigation it defies definition, being as varied as the formal knot garden to a lush cottage garden, and everything in between. The dedication and focus of a culture around gardening has as much to do with what defines an English garden as do the gardens themselves.
The English take their gardening seriously, and hence create noteworthy public and private gardens that are admired around the globe. My visits to England and Scotland spring bring a few observations to light.
The climate of the UK is of course variable by region. However, England weather conditions generally are milder and wetter than say my particular gardening corner in central Virginia. The weather in England can be suddenly quite changeable, but in many areas the generally mild temps and moist conditions seldom see extremes.
The US climate is also hugely inconsistent with conditions varying by region, agricultural zone, altitude, annual rainfall, prevailing wind currents, etc. But as far as I know the only area in the US that resembles the favorable gardening conditions of the UK is the Northwest coastal areas of Oregon and Washington state. I would have to assume that the climatic similarity probably accounts for the importance and priority placed on gardening in these areas as well as in England. These observations obviously are not scientific with the exception of some basic geography. Checking out a world map, England and the rest of the UK is between the 50 to 60 North latitudes. That is parallel on our side of the big water with Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is also similar to the latitude of the Northwest US. That explains a lot right off the top, and offers many considerations for optimizing our gardening endeavors depending on what neck of the country (or world for that matter) you happen to live.
The biggest lesson: know your conditions and plan accordingly. It all starts with soil. Do the best job at creating a healthy growing environment by building your garden from the ground up. Be realistic about your environment and choose plants appropriately for their new home. Redefine any perceived limitations as opportunities for creativity. The best solutions are always borne out of the challenge.
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