Designing A Garden That Complements Your Orangery

In the same way considered interior design can transform the inside of your orangery, the surrounding landscaping can do the same for the exterior. From the foliage and flower colour, to the geometry and scale of the leaves, even the smallest of details can enhance the aesthetic.

Style and Aesthetic

From cottage to formal, there will be a garden style to suit you, and in order to achieve that style, as with architecture or any design, you will need to understand and adopt the design principles that define that style.

This article, written by the RHS, briefly explains the most popular garden designs and the key design principles you need to follow to achieve them. Styles change, but the foundations of good design do not.

Garden design ideas: choose what style you’d like for your gardens / RHS Gardening

Practicalities and Suitability

Aspiring to have a garden of a certain style is one thing. Having the right conditions for that planting to thrive, is another.

Once you have identified the aesthetic you want to achieve, the next step is to determine whether or not the planting will truly perform in the soil and environmental conditions on your property. A helpful adage is “Don’t fight the site.” If you test or challenge Mother Nature and pick a plant that does not match your site conditions, there is a good chance that it will fail.

Factors related to site adaptability – such as the plant’s cold hardiness and tolerance for conditions such as soil type, climate and light levels – will define whether your selections will perform to your expectations.

In most cases you can still achieve the garden style you want, you will just need to be clever in the way you do it.

Credit to article: Robert Schutzki (msu.edu)


Colour is one of the many elements to consider when it comes to an aesthetic that is harmonious. It is also important to select a colour to depict the mood that you want. Blue, for instance, is best in shadow where the colour is more interesting – it becomes quite fugitive in bright lights. Whereas reds are used for providing dynamism, energy and creating a focal point. Garden color schemes: how to use color in the garden | Homes & Gardens (homesandgardens.com)

An effective use of colour in a garden scheme can be achieved through the use of restraint and repetition – and this is where knowledge of the colour wheel would be beneficial. Regardless of which colour pallet you choose, understanding the relationships of colours to one another will result in a pleasing unity to the planting.

Take the garden below as an example – the deep purple of the Salvia perfectly offsets the orange tones of the Alliums.

When making your planting choices do not underestimate the importance of the relationship between the planting colour and the building aesthetic, look beyond the relationships of the plants to one another, and consider the wider surroundings, including the architecture and external finishes. Refer to the colour wheel to ensure you select the right colour tones, as making a mistake here could also lead to a discordant design.

Don’t be afraid to create a mood board for your orangery planting and include your chosen render/brick and paint finishes. Seeing all your choices together may help you make those important colour decisions.

Significantly, don’t forget that plant colours change through the seasons, so consider what your landscaping may look like throughout the year.


Function or purpose defines the reason for using a plant. Looking good certainly justifies a selection, but the value of a plant may go far beyond aesthetic appeal. Function guides the selection of a plant type, such as tree, shrub, or perennial for a specific space.

Plants can serve an architectural function in their own right, by highlighting or masking architectural features of a house or building. Framing with plants can emphasize characteristics, but be careful, they can also detract from, or downplay, features which you don’t want to hide, and consequently cause a misbalance.

If you are considering a more functional space to grow your own vegetables, this doesn’t have to involve ruler-straight rows of crops between unsightly, muddy gaps, and a constant battle with slugs or flies. The Potager garden offers a brilliantly unique solution so you can benefit – quite literally – from the fruits (and veggies) of your labour.


Consider the rhythm and balance when designing your planting.

Repetition is an important aspect when considering a design composition. We recognise patterns due to the way our brains function, and a balanced composition makes us feel at peace with our surroundings.

Plants with a similar shape create good rhythm as they mirror each other through the garden and create a unity to the planting. Not insignificantly the repetition of elements throughout a space can also set the desired pace throughout the garden.


When planning your garden, borders or pots, it’s important to think about the shape and form of the specimens you choose. If you only grow plants that are the same size or shape, you might find that your borders lack focus and appear chaotic.

One solution is to introduce architectural plants to your garden, you may be surprised at what a difference they can make. Pick plants with bold foliage and striking bark which are big enough to create a focal point in your space. If you’re growing in a smaller garden, or in pots, architectural plants can still be used to add height and drama.

Some species to consider include:

Grasses – these work really well as architectural plants, dotted through a border or as part of a pot display.

The spectacular evergreen foliage of a Yucca makes an eye-catching addition to borders. It’s spiky, silvery foliage will work really well in a colourful, sunny bed or a gravel garden, adding an architectural focus.

For a dramatic statement, a tree fern is an excellent choice. Dicksonia antarcticais one of the hardier options and it has a thick mass of roots that form the trunk, from which large, structural fronds will appear.

Dogwoods inject a burst of colour and structure to the winter garden, with their colourful, leafless stems. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ works really well when planted with evergreen shrubs, contrasting with its dark red stems.

10 Best Architectural Plants For Your Garden | BBC Gardeners World Magazine

Practical Considerations

When choosing your planting, you need to think about how much work you want to do! If you are green-fingered yourself or have a gardener tending your borders, selecting more exotic species might not pose too many challenges. If you are a less enthusiastic gardener, choose hardier shrubs and perennials that return year after year and need little attention.

When choosing trees, ensure roots will not damage the foundations of your garden room five years down the line. Likewise if you are framing a front door or window choose a climber which will not attach itself to your paintwork or render.

If you have pets or young children, some species can be poisonous and cause irritation, such as the beautiful Euphorbia.

British weather is variable and some species are hardier than others. Consider whether you would want planting right outside your window which requires frost netting for several months a year.

Your garden

Garden design is an art that combines creativity and an understanding of the way different plant species behave. Every garden has a unique context, be it a sprawling estate or an urban courtyard.

When it comes to designing your garden, take your time and take a step back to look at the big picture. Don’t fight the site and work with mother nature!