Landscape design styles – Part 3

To illustrate aspects of Paradise/Formal landscape styles and the more pastoral English landscape style – subjects of my two previous posts – let’s visit Boston Public Garden as it appeared in May 2010. These 24 acres – a salt marsh until 1837 – along with Boston Common (created in 1634), form the northern end of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a string of greenways designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

The Public Garden follows a Victorian style that encompasses characteristics of formal (evolved from Paradise garden-style) and pastoral (English landscape-style) design.

One enters the garden on wide walkways, lined with formal beds of seasonal blooms, that lead to and guide visitors around statues, a rose garden, and strictly pruned shrubbery.

Boston Public Garden1

The tulips in the neatly edged, rectangular bed at the foreground of the photos above and below would be replaced by other seasonal blooms, while the alliums (photo below), in another neatly-edged bed, were just beginning to open.

Boston Public Garden3

The gumdrop-pruned shrub (very formal) hides the base of the statue – in spite of what you see George Washington and his horse are not resting atop the shrub.

Boston Public Garden2

The main walkway (top photo) follows a strait, formal path from feature to feature, but the side pathways meander in gentle curves and urge walkers to casually wander while enjoying the blooming flowers. The occasional bench entices one to sit a spell to further soak in the views.

Boston Public Garden4

A formal rose garden is planted around a topiary shrub. A closely clipped hedge surrounds the entire bed – again very formal.

Yet, tucked amongst all the formality sits a large, shallow pond surrounded by groves of shade trees – a perfect place to stop and rest or enjoy a picnic lunch.

Boston Public Garden6

Meandering paths guide walkers along the edges of the pond where they can rest in sun or shade, enjoy the ducks, or relax on a leisurely Swan boat tour.

Boston Public Garden5 

Similar to the view of Stourhead in my previous post, a bridge enables walkers to enjoy the Public Garden pond from above. Notice the sweeping curves of the pond edges – most definitely a characteristic of the English Landscape movement.

Boston Public Garden10

Gently curving pathways also guide visitors to stroll under the shade of less formally clipped trees …

Boston Public Garden7

… where one can venture underneath to marvel at the tree’s structure.

Boston Public Garden9

As with many public and private gardens, Boston Public Garden blends characteristics of formal design styles that originated from Paradise Gardens and the pastoral aspects of English landscape design – all in an effort to give visitors opportunities to soak up soothing sensations of green surroundings.

Part 4 of this series briefly covers Japanese design and how hints of all three styles – Paradise/Formal, English Landscape/pastoral, and Japanese design – can be identified in modern gardens.

2 comments for “Landscape design styles – Part 3

  1. August 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm


    Great post, I enjoyed the tour of the Boston Public Gardens. Seems like you’re enjoying this assignment. I’m looking forward to the next post.

  2. joenesgarden
    August 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Thanks, Debbie. It’s fun identifying how historical design styles play into modern garden design.

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