The 19th century found a great influx of plant materials and wealth to many Americans and Europeans that allowed them to create lavish, artistic gardens. The lawn was a carpet upon which to display circular flower or planting beds to showcase their flower or foliage beauty or curiosity. Rather than constricting a modern Victorian-style landscape with brick or plastic edging, consider using shrub, perennial or annual plants to border the lawn, creating a visual pattern or "fringe" to the edge of the turf grass rug.
A solid, low-growing border of shrubs can act as a long-lasting border to the Victorian lawn. Often boxwood (Buxus spp.) would be used, pruned meticulously and tightly to a height between 6 and 12 inches and equally as wide. Depending on your climate, other shrubs to substitute for boxwood include Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) or yellow rim (Serissa foetida). In subtropical climates, pigeonberry (Duranta erecta) or dwarf yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) can be used.
Clumping perennials with either ornately colored or variegated foliage or colorful flowers can be used to line the edges of the lawn. An inexpensive edging plant is lilyturf (Liriope muscari), which some call Aztec or monkey grass. Other perennials of your choosing can be used, but ideally focus on species that are evergreen or those that never grow taller than 12 to 16 inches.
Allowing you the most option and opportunity to change composition, planting an edging of annuals can marry the idea of Victorian plant diversity with display of contrasting, vivid colors that mimic an expensive Persian rug, according to Richard Iversen in "The Exotic Garden." The choice is immense. Compact, low annuals that are easy to grow from seed include French marigold (Tagetes sp.), dwarf zinnia. Flossflower (Ageratum sp.), geranium (Pelargonium sp.), coleus (Solenstemon sp.), petunia or ornamental pepper (Capsicum sp.). Again, focus on annuals that grow no taller than 12 inches. A wide band of low-growing flowering annuals can also be visually effective; alyssum (Lobularia sp.), creeping blue lobelia, verbena, lantana, Joseph's coat (Alternanthera sp.) and petunia are options. For shaded edges of a lawn, perhaps try impatiens, wishbone flower (Torenia sp.) and caladium.