What Flowers Are Used in a Formal English Garden?

Formal English gardens are more an extension of the house than a piece of wilderness, and the charm of these gardens comes from their orderliness. English gardens often contain paths framed by well-manicured hedges and intricate landscaping design that is accented by colorful flower beds and herb patches. When creating a formal English garden, there are plenty of traditional flowers one can use to produce a beautiful and traditional garden.

English Sweet Violet

Originally native to Great Britain, English Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) is a flowering herbaceous perennial that has a long history as a bouquet flower in England. English Sweet Violets produce small, rich, purple flowers accented by bright-green foliage. Commonly used in flower beds in formal English gardens, English Sweet Violet grows best in partial or filtered sunlight. Plant the violets in moist, well-drained soil, and dead-head the flowers to keep the plant looking healthy and fresh.

Lenten Rose

A member of the Buttercup family, the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) is a lush perennial that blooms early, sometimes when snow is still dappling the plant's leaves. A popular plant for shady garden courtyards and pond sides, Lenten Rose produces crisp, rose like blooms in shades of pink or white. The plant prefers light shade to full shade, growing best in soils that are rich and moist, but also well-drained.


Native to Southern Europe and Western Asia, Primose (Primula vulgaris) is a traditional flower that can be used to bring color to a pathway or low-growing flower bed. Primroses have semi-evergreen leaves accented by brightly colored flowers. With hundreds of cultivars available, gardeners have their pick for a style and color of primrose to fit in with their formal garden. Primroses do best in filtered sunlight or shade, in soil that is humus rich and moist, but not soggy.

Keywords: English garden flowers, formal English garden, English flowers

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.