Fine Gardening Plants

Fine gardening plants are generally considered to be plants that have a manageable, compact form, rather than a sprawling or invasive natural form. Plants that respond well to pruning and don't grow out of control are the best choices for formal gardens. There are a number of fine gardening plants that can be used to create beautiful, formal gardens that will stay under the control of the gardener.

English Laurel

A member of the rose family, English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), also called cherry laurel, is an evergreen shrub that has been used in formal English gardens for centuries. A native of Europe and Asia, English laurel is a popular hedge that can be pruned into a variety of shapes. The plant sports glossy green leaves accented by small fragrant white flowers, which appear on graceful stalks in the spring and in the autumn. If left to its own devices, the shrub may reach heights of 30 feet (though that is rare). English laurel is tolerant of both sun and shade in USDA zones 6 to 9 full sun. A slightly acidic, well draining soil that's watered occasionally is optimal for this shrub.

Lady Banks Rose

A staple of traditional formal gardens in the American South, Lady Banks rose (Rosa banksiae) is a vigorous rose species native to central and western China. The plant is ideal for large estates, where it can drape over entryways or act as a huge specimen shrub. Lady Banks rose may grow to be 50 feet or more. The plant produces rich green leaves accented by fragrant yellow or white rose blooms. Lady Banks rose is best suited to cultivation in USDA zones 7 to 10. The plant must be planted in full sun, otherwise it will simply grow outwards and away to reach the sun. The plant isn't picky about soil, and once established, Lady Banks roses are drought tolerant.


The camellia ( Camellia japonica) is an evergreen shrub that may reach heights of between 10 and 15 feet, producing showy blooms in an impressive array of colors and patterns (though pink is the most commonly seen shade). The shrub is also notable for its oval, shiny green leaves. The plant is popular as a specimen shrub in formal gardens, where its huge flowers can enchant guests. Camellia shrubs do best in USDA zones 7 to 9, in either partial or full sunlight. The plant will thrive in a rich, acidic soil that is well draining. Water the plant on a regular basis, and supply extra water during notably hot summers.

Keywords: fine gardening, gardening plants, formal garden

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.