If you would like to create an elegant garden, a place with a mood of luxury, refinement and sophistication, make each element of the garden contribute to this effect. Choose both plants and building materials that possess elegance in themselves. Use both designs and color schemes of grace and restraint. Build elegance with details.
Lines and Shapes
You may not want a garden as formal as Versailles, as clipped and pruned or laid out in such straight lines, but using simple geometric shapes to organize and focus your garden is both effective and elegant. Try a circular lawn or a half-circle out from a patio. Rectangles or squares may be used to frame a bed of perennials, which tend toward the informal.
Whenever possible, lean toward simplicity, toward fewer elements rather than more. Excess can seem cluttered and more appropriate to a cottage garden or natural, informal garden.
In colors, again lean toward simplicity. Some gardens have nothing but white flowers. Some have only pastels. Choose the colors you want, perhaps using a photo or even a swatch of cloth, and stick to that palette. It's easy to find tulips in every color you could want, and there are other plants with a wide variety to choose from, snapdragons, petunias and lilies among them.
Artistic Building Materials
If possible, use smooth surfaces, polished stone, glazed pots and varnished wood. If you'd use it in your living room, chances are it will work in your luxurious, elegant garden. Each part of your garden decor can be chosen as carefully as any art object, placed precisely and with careful consideration.
Sculpture can add a great deal to an elegant garden, creating a focal point that lasts through all seasons. Fountains, too, can be used effectively to bring water into the garden in a beautiful manner.
Flowers and Leaves
Certain flowers seem to be inherently delicate or stately. Iris, lilies, peonies and, of course, roses, all enhance a mood of elegance. Rose shrubs, unfortunately, sometimes seem awkward and ungainly, so look at an older specimen of the variety you're interested in before you buy.
Shrubs such as camellias have the advantage of polished beautiful leaves as well as shapely flowers. Choose varieties that drop their flowers as they fade rather than holding on to brown and fading petals.
Don't forget perennials with elegant foliage, also. Maidenhair ferns are especially graceful, and hostas have a sculptural quality that enhances any garden.
The beautiful branching pattern of a Japanese maple or a stewartia is an artistic addition to a winter garden, as is the coppery bark of the paperbark maple, Acer griseum. Flowering cherries are often used for their delicate beauty as are dogwoods.