LANDSCAPING III (Gardening Styles)

Learn to design different themed gardens in varied styles from around the world - oriental, mediterranean, eclectic, formal, etc.

Course Code: BHT235
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Become Adept at Designing a Range of Garden Styles

There are many elements that contribute to the ambiance and mood of a garden. Colour is a significant component however the choice of plants, the amount of plants, the permanent structures and ornamentation are also important.

Be creative in your approach to design 

This course covers many types of gardens including: Historic, Formal, Oriental, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Coastal, Modern, Eclectic and other garden styles enabling the student to gain knowledge and draw inspiration from the most beautiful garden styles in the world.

Learn how to use design tricks to create mood. Apply what you learn to:

  • Modern gardens
  • Natural gardens
  • Attract birds and wildlife
  • Meet the client's needs
  • Explore your own creativity


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Creating the Mood
    • Active or Passive Mood
    • Simple or Complex Garden
    • Movement in a Garden
    • Light or Shade
    • Increasing or Reducing Light: How to
    • Working With Shade
    • Garden Lighting
    • Other Mood Factors
    • What's Wanted (by you or a client)
    • Personality of a Garden
    • Keeping it To Scale
    • Colour ands it's Use; plants, pots, statuary, other coloured features
    • Impact of Buildings on Garden Colour
    • Coloured Surfaces
    • Understanding and Applying the Psychology of Colour
    • Hot and Cold Colours
    • Water and Colour
    • Hot Coloured Plants
    • Making Gardens Cooler
    • Using Blue in the Garden
    • Winter Warmth and Light
    • Site Analysis
    • Creating a Concept Step by Step
    • Components of a Garden Room
  2. Historic Gardens
    • Historical Considerations and Historical Styles
    • Types of Gardens: Formal, Informal, Natural, Resort, Colonial, Permaculture, Balcony
    • Rose, Australian Bush, etc
    • Cottage Garden Design
    • How to Use Plants in a Cottage Garden
    • Federation and Edwardian Gardens
  3. Formal Gardens
    • What is a Formal Garden
    • Design Elements of a Formal Garden
    • Locating a Formal Garden Bed
    • Types of Formal Garden; Parterre, Avenue, Hedged beds
    • Informality in the Formal Garden
    • Plants for a Formal Garden Ornaments for a Formal Garden
    • Traditional Furniture
    • Formal Courtyards
  4. Oriental Gardens
    • Scope and Nature of Oriental Gardens
    • Chinese Gardens
    • Japanese Gardens
    • Types of Japanese Garden: Hill and pond, Dry landscape, Tea garden, Stroll garden, Courtyard, Rock garden, Pebble garden
    • Japanese Features; Tori, Moss, Deer Scarer, Bridges
    • Bonsai
    • Traditional Bonsai Styles
    • Water in an Oriental Garden
    • Ornamental Grasses
  5. Middle Eastern and Spanish Style
    • Scope and Nature
    • Features of a Moorish Garden
    • Sense of Enclosure Mexican Style
    • How Mexican Gardens Evolved
    • Using Coloured Gravels
  6. Mediterranean Gardens
    • Characteristics of a Mediterranean Garden
    • Differences between French, Spanish, Greek, Italian Gardens
    • Built Landscape
    • Plants
    • Use of Paint in the Garden Veranda Gardens
    • Making the Most of Small Spaces
    • Microclimate Management
  7. Coastal Gardens
    • Features of a Coastal Garden
    • Dealing with Temperature, Humidity, Salt, Soil and Wind
    • Coastal Plants
    • Trees
  8. Modern Gardens
    • Scope and Nature of Modern Gardens
    • Modern Technology in the Garden; lights, water, music, screens
    • Working with Modern Architecture; making the garden sympathetic to shapes, angles, colour, etc
    • Courtyards
    • Inner City Gardens
    • Types of Inner City Gardens
    • Future Trends
  9. Eclectic Gardens
    • What is an Eclectic Garden
    • Creating an Eclectic Garden
    • Garden Ornaments
    • Plants
    • Living Art
    • Topiary
    • Hedges
    • Miniature Gardens
    • Using Junk in a Garden
    • Pebble Gardens
    • Art Gardens
    • Public Gardens
  10. Other Styles
    • Dry land Gardens
    • The Desert Landscape
    • Xeriscapes
    • Australian Bush Garden
    • Cacti and Indoor Succulent Gardens
    • Minimalist Gardens
    • Permaculture Gardens
    • Tropical Style Gardens
    • Landscaping with Bulbs
    • Bird Attracting Gardens


  • Explain the use of colour, light, shade, temperature, water, foliage and other elements in establishing the mood of a garden.
  • Describe gardens from different places and periods in history; and in doing so explain how to renovate and/or recreate gardens that reflect the style of different historic periods.
  • Apply the principles, design features and elements that make up a formal garden.
  • Discuss cultural and historical traditions that contributed to the development and style of the oriental garden.
  • Discuss cultural and historical traditions that have contributed to the development and style of the Middle Eastern and Spanish garden.
  • Discuss the historic, climatic and cultural influences which have contributed to the style of Mediterranean gardens.
  • Discuss design styles of coastal gardens
  • Explain the limitations and potential of coastal sites when preparing a landscape design.
  • Discuss contemporary garden design styles and possible future trends in garden design.
  • Identify the range of diversity possible in garden design.
  • Identify characteristics of different garden styles including eclectic, dryland, permaculture, rain forest and tropical garden styles.
  • Design different styles of gardens.

What You Will Do

  • Visit different gardens to assess the mood of each garden. Take time to observe each garden and try to identify the different elements that contribute to the garden mood.
  • Observe how colour has been used in different gardens. Observe the colours of both plants and hard surfaces, and the way the colours have been combined.
  • Visit an historic garden in your area. Identify all the different features that make this an historic garden.
  • Visit a formal garden in your area. Identify all the different features that make this a formal garden.
  • Visit an oriental garden either in person or by research.
  • Search for more information on gardens that reflect the styles.
  • Make notes of anything you find which is interesting and could be used in development of a Mediterranean style of garden in the locality in which you live.
  • Visit a coastal region near where you live and observe the type of plants that are growing near the seashore. Also observe the plants and design elements of nearby gardens. (If you are unable to visit a coastal region, use descriptions of coastal sites and gardens from books, magazines and the internet.)
  • Evaluate a modern courtyard garden (if there is no suitable garden in your area, use a garden described in a book, magazine or on the internet).
  • Identify and describe the elements that make this a 'modern' garden. How has the designer overcome the restrictions of the site to create a feeling of spaciousness?
  • Research and list suppliers of materials suitable for eclectic gardens such as pots, sundials, pebbles, statues, wrought iron, tiles, gazebos, seats, wind chimes, etc.
  • Visit as many suppliers as possible and inspect these materials. Find out about their cost, availability and longevity.
  • Evaluate a garden site, identifying and describing the elements that determine the style of this garden.


Garden Styles are Continually Evolving

Gardens come in many different shapes and sizes.
There has been much influence between countries and across continents in the development of garden design over the centuries. The water feature of the ancient Middle Eastern oasis gardens was adopted and transformed in Indian, Spanish, and eventually French and Italian gardens. We have already discussed how various influences made their way across Europe; the Greek influence in Italy, the French influence in England, and so on. In the modern era, however, it was not really until the rejection of the landscape style in England in the earlier part of the nineteenth century that a search for other styles of garden began in earnest.
Indian Influences
Attempts were made to recreate Indian gardens such as those at Sezincote in Gloucestershire (1805) and the Larmer Tree Gardens in Wiltshire (1880’s). A Swiss style garden was constructed at the Swiss Cottage in Old Warden, Bedfordshire (1820’s) in which four acres of land were transformed into flower glades containing cast iron bridges and iron hoops supporting flowers. A thatched roof was set around the trunk of a beech tree and a thatched cottage with split log cladding set amidst the garden.
Chinese Influences
Chinese style gardens became popular such as those at Dropmore, Buckinghamshire (1800’s) where there still remains an aviary built of iron and tiles. At Alton Towers in Staffordshire there also remains an intricate Chinese style pagoda built by Robert Abraham in 1827, and a lookout tower which has since lost its chinoiserie. Whilst transferring a purely Chinese style of garden to the West is fraught with difficulty due to the natural landscape and the philosophy and culture of origin one example which has managed to recreate the atmosphere of the original design is that of Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire (1850’s). Here, James Bateman who owned the garden and his colleague, the artist Edward Cooke, isolated an area of the garden which was named ‘China’. It was distinctly separated from the remainder of the estate with trees and rock elevations. In fact, it could not be seen from the rest of the garden and access was only via a tunnel of rock. Travelling through the tunnel takes the visitor directly into a pavilion with a crimson painted balcony from where it is possible to view the tranquil lake which is encompassed by bamboos, rock formations, and exotic trees. One can also see a bridge across the lake and a tower beyond sitting high. There is also a walk around the lake which leads to a temple.
Japanese Influences
Later in the nineteenth century Japanese interest impacted upon gardening style. It was popularised by Josiah Consider whose books on the subject ‘Landscape Gardening in Japan’ (1893) and ‘The Floral Art of Japan’ (1899) attempted to enlighten the public. However, no real attempts to recreate Japanese gardens occurred until the twentieth century. An example is the Japanese garden at Kildare in Ireland (1906) and at Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire which incorporated stepping stones, lanterns and extravagant attempts at Japanese plantings which included rare, exotic plants.
Eclecticism in the Nineteenth Century
During the mid Victorian era following the great Exhibition of 1851 British gardens were very eclectic and designed to educate. Paxton’s design at Sydenham included concrete dinosaurs in a show of man’s ascent over animals, and indeed Britain’s ascent in the world. But building many different types of gardens revealed that no clear style had yet evolved. At Alton Towers, along with its Chinese constructions were buildings of Italian, Greek, Gothic and Indian origin as well as a topiary garden, alpine garden, and a replica of Stonehenge. Biddulph Grange also included an arboretum, ‘stumpery’ of tree roots, a lake garden, an Egyptian scene with sphinxes and topiary in the form of pyramids, an Italian terrace, and a chapel-like building with an Egyptian tomb on one side and what appears to be a Cheshire cottage in a Swiss style on the other side.
In Europe, eclecticism also had an impact. Of note is the garden at Muskau in Germany which was extensively gardened and designed by Fürst von Pücker-Muskau after he inherited it from his father. It comprised a large park of hills and woodland. Muskau used it to create a variety of scenes with different themes. These included a mining scene, a race track, a fortress, an observatory, a vineyard, and a mansion scene. He also created a ‘pleasure-ground’ which was a natural landscape and formal flower beds near the mansion which were enclosed with trellis, ironwork, timber, pebbles, box hedging, urns, or earthenware. These beds were set out in ostentatious patterns such as a star shape, a flower head, a dice, peacock feathers, or a cornucopia. The nineteenth century taste for eclecticism in garden design was mocked by Gustave Flaubert in his novel ‘Bouvard et Pécuchet’ (1881). In this novel, Flaubert’s comic protagonists who came into a lot of money attempt to create a garden having stumbled across a copy of Boitard’s ‘The Garden Architect’. They go on to create a monstrosity of a garden incorporating a mishmash of styles.
From the search for style in the nineteenth century emerged two forms of expression which were to influence the gardens of Britain, Europe and the United states. These were the use of massed bedding plants and the adaption of neo-Italian style in garden design. Typically they were used together with bedding flowers highlighting the statues, gravel and grass of the Italian-style features.
Eclecticism in the Twentieth Century
In the twentieth century eclectic gardens such as those mentioned earlier at Biddulph and Alton Towers continued to be made. The gardens at Compton Acres in Dorset and at Dumbarton Oaks near Washington are prime examples, but they include plantings of more recent cultivars. Similarly, gardens replicating specific styles continued to be constructed. There was a glut of Japanese style gardens in the West many of which did not work terribly well because they relied upon lanterns, bronze cranes and Japanese plants but little else. There were, however, some fine examples which achieved the sensitivity and subtlety of authentic Japanese gardens none more so than Tollard Royal in Wiltshire and Nordpark in Düsseldorf.
Of the eclectic twentieth century gardens one of great note is the Duke Gardens at Somerville, New Jersey in the United States. It houses some eleven large gardens each representing a different garden style and each entirely under a glass roof. Different styles include American Desert, American Colonial, English, French, Italian, and so forth.
Along with eclectic gardens, massed bedding plants also continued into the twentieth century and are still very popular today. They are to be found across Britain and Europe.
Resurgence of the Renaissance Garden
The twentieth century also witnessed a resurgence of the Italian Renaissance garden in Europe. A good example is the garden at Renishaw in Derbyshire which Sir George Sitwell planned and replanned over several decades. Here the main garden is of a geometrical shape and is comprised of terraced lawns as it moves away from the house. There are walkways which bisect the main axis at right angles and the lawns are edged with high hedges of yew. Huge paired groupings of statues and a fountain run down the central axis and woodland frames either side of the garden.
Burle Marx (Roberto (1909-1994)
A Brazilian Landscape Architect who was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. Before Burle Marx, Brazil’s gardens had more of a Portuguese and French influence, but Marx developed a style identified by the use of Brazilian native plants with informal sculptural forms. Characteristics of Burle Marx gardens are typically free flowing patterns, water, ground covers.
Bill Mollison and Permaculture
Permaculture is a concept that combines the words “permanent” and “agriculture”. It was developed in Australia by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren with the aim of creating sustainable production systems. It is based on ecological principles and incorporates other natural gardening and farming systems such as organic gardening, no-dig gardens, companion planting and biological pest control.
Permaculture has been a major force since it was conceived in the 1970’s. Permaculture clubs associations and groups have been established in most countries; and hundreds of thousands of people have become devoted to this style of gardening.
Today and the Future
We see greater diversity in today's gardens than ever before. All of the influences of the past are still with us; but gardeners and landscapers are each and every one different; and come to developing gardens with their own unique palette of experiences and influences.
This course will expand your awareness and reveal possibilities you may not have thought of.
By studying different landscape styles and understanding how they are created, you will nurture and develop your own creative abilities and expand what you are able to achieve in the world of landscaping. 

Where to From Here?

This course is ideal for people wishing to expand on their garden design knowledge by developing a firm understanding of how to create different garden styles and themes.

It could serve as a platform for further study or be taken in conjunction with other modules to enhance your learning experience. The course is of most value to people working in or wishing to work in:

Landscape construction
Garden design
Garden maintenance
Garden restoration or conservation
Parks & gardens

It could also add to the skillset of people wanting to start a garden design business, or be of value to people wishing to renovate a home garden.

ACS operates a student bookshop that supplies a range of horticulture texts to supplement our courses.
Many are written by the principal (well known gardening author John Mason), or other staff. All have been reviewed and approved by our academic experts (to be accurate and relevant to students studying our horticulture courses).
  • Student discounts are available to anyone studying with ACS Distance Education.
  • Both printed books and ebooks (as downloads) available
Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Accredited ACS Global Partner

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Principal John Mason has been a member of the International Society of Horticultural Science, since 2003

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

Marie Beerman

Marie has over 10 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants".
Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Lds

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

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