There are many styles of gardening. Each has its pluses and minuses and all can be intermingled.
Like fashions, garden styles come and go to be recycled with a twist and a new name.
Formal gardens with straight lines, symmetry and sculptured trees are one of the earliest types of known gardens and can still be found surrounding older public buildings. Formal gardens are labour intensive.
While private gardens might contain some aspects of a formal garden, rarely are they completely formal. In a formal garden, each plant has its own space and it is kept within that boundary by extensive pruning.
Cottage gardens are the opposite of formal. Lines are curves that are not always noticeable as they can become hidden as plants intermingle, twine and invade each other’s space. These gardens are a riot of colour and look like they develop and grow on their own. But like any garden, they need care and attention. There may be a vegetable component to this garden and it will be separate to ensure that the vegetables have room to grow.
Naturescape gardens are planned to invite native creatures into the garden. Plants are chosen and placed to entice creatures, big or small, into the yard. Often the emphasis of these gardens is to invite the birds, butterflies and, lately, bees into the garden.
Rare gardeners encourage larger animals such as deer and moose as they can be very destructive, eating garden that one is trying to create.
Native plants are planted as wildlife will feed on plants they are familiar with first.
Feeders, water and animal habitat are an intricate part of a naturescape garden. Without it the wildlife will not visit.
Xeriscape gardens are designed to use little water. Plants are attractively arranged in groups with the same cultural requirements. Plants that are drought tolerant are used in hot, sunny locations and slopes. Ones that require more moisture will be located in lower areas where moisture accumulates. Mulch is used extensively to reduce the need for moisture.
Permaculture is about sustainable food production. In urban areas, it concentrates on vegetables, fruit and small animal such as chickens, bees or rabbits. People who use the permaculture guidelines concentrate on producing as much food as possible in a small space. Like xeriscaping, these gardens are designed to require less moisture than the typical in-ground prairie vegetable garden.
Eastern gardens such as Chinese and Japanese are tranquil places to sit, walk and reflect. To accomplish, this plants are shaped and placed in specific spots, as are ornamentation such as rocks and driftwood.
There are times of years where the gardens can be a riot of colour with cherry blossoms or peonies. But for the most part, the gardens consist trees and shrubs of various forms, colours and shades. Do not expect to see a perennial or annual border.
Botanical gardens are teaching and research gardens. Their main purpose is to collect and display a wide range of plants. Seeds are exchanged with other botanical gardens around the world, contributing to the diverse selection of plant material in each garden.
Each plant should be labeled in Latin, a worldwide recognized naming system, but some will also include common names. Upkeep of these gardens often depends on government coffers.
All styles of gardens should be admired and enjoyed. There isn’t a right or wrong garden.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.