Exterior & Garden The Victorian House

A Small Garden Victory, a Formal Plan

I have a boxwood update for you. They bounced back! Two years ago, the hedges flanking the front walkway were overgrown and encroaching upon the sidewalk. I pruned them back, hard. Last year, they looked better. This year, they’re fully filled in!

So now that I’ve had a little success in the boxwood department, maybe I’m ready to go all-in? I’m in planning mode, wanting to work on the front garden this year. I was out there all day every day last spring and summer, cleaning things up, moving and planting. There are two distinct sides to our front yard, since we have an asymmetrical house on an asymmetrical lot. The smaller side has a blue gazing ball on a small fluted column with a ring of flagstone around it. Near the gate, there is a dwarf lilac, a rose bush, and clematis that climbs and covers the fence. It was never very clear what was supposed to be going on in the middle portion, and I let things grow last year to see what they were. Guess what grew? Weeds! There are also some scraggly bushes near the house that I’m not a fan of, and I’m thinking it’s a good time to go at it with an overall plan.

Formal Front Garden Planning

I’ve been reading up on various styles, researching period Victorian gardens, and I’m drawn to formal layouts. Do a quick search of “parterre” on Pinterest, and there are tons of inspiring images.

Formal Front Garden Parterre — Brocaatje Landelijk Brocante Wonen

The layout is really the key though, not necessarily the hedging. Here’s another example with just a few boxwood balls.

Parterre Garden Design Idea

I can’t think of any other formal front gardens in the area, but maybe that’s not a big deal? Our house, with our next door neighbor’s, are the only ones with a front fence too, and it’s not like there’s all that much cohesiveness on my street as it is now anyway. I love the idea of a centering a flowering tree.

Images: Formal Front Garden Parterre — Brocaatje Landelijk Brocante Wonen • Garden Design Dublin

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  • Louise
    April 11, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I think it will look gorgeous and I wouldn’t worry that no one else has a formal garden. It definitely suits the style of your home. I have “formal garden possibility” envy Definitely centre a tree ,it will look fabulous.

  • Jessika
    April 11, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I think a weeping pussy willow tree would look great as the center tree. Beautiful, but with whimsy, so it’d really compliment your house.

  • katwachter80
    April 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Do it! It’ll be gorgeous!

  • judy
    April 11, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Your home is …stunning! Anything you do will only enhance its loveliness so full speed with all deliberation ahead. Looking forward to the result.

  • Windy City Wendy
    April 20, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Nicole – Hello from Central Oak Park. I’ve got a mini parterre in the backyard that I tinker with (no boxwoods yet, because we’re still finishing and furnishing the inside). As you’re planning, check out the lovely visible (modified Italianate) parterre in the exposed back yard at the SE corner of Lombard and Van Buren. It is beautifully designed and tended.

  • Kate
    August 23, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Absolutely beautiful gardens.

  • Barbara Hill
    November 13, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    I’m full of envy! The main photo is the layout of my front garden with a narrow strip, the path to the front door and the garden bed (although mine is rectangular). There is a new picket fence and I planned out a formal garden with a weeping cherry in the centre. It would have been the only formal garden the neighbourhood. But, it wasn’t to be. My husband’s work meant a move so we sold our house before I could start on the garden. I scaled it back considerably but still keeping the cherry tree. One day I HOPE to have a small formal garden!