The Landscape Guide

Planting Design Guide

Most societies have loved flowers. But the art we know as 'planting design' (ie planting for aesthetic objectives) is of comparatively recent origin.

The oldest records of plants used in garden design come from ancient Egypt. They show that plants were valued primarily for the food they provided but that certain plants (eg the lotus and the sycomore fig) were also valued for sybolic reasons. Records of medieval gardens tell a similar story: plants were grown to eat, to flavour food, for medicinal reasons and for their symbolic reasons. A red rose and a white lily could sybolise the blood of Christ and the purity of the Virgin Mary.

The arrangement of flowering plants for aesthetic reasons became popular in the nineteenth century and was greatly advanced by the Arts and Crafts movement. As Gertrude Jekyll demonstrated through her life and work, this requires:

  • artistic judgement
  • horticultural expertise
  • much trial and error