If you would love to create a formal garden, edged in stone with symmetrical paths around neatly planted beds, consider cultivating a parterre garden. Parterre gardens are fun, especially in Houston, Texas because many of our native plants (and smaller yards) lend themselves perfectly to this concept. (For example, Blue Mistletoe, Columbine, and Holly Phlox, all Texas natives, look lovely in parterre gardens.)The word parterre comes from French, “on the ground.” Originating in 16th century France, this beautiful garden style has found its way into many modern gardens. If you are interested in creating a parterre garden in your own Houston, Texas yard, just follow the tips and suggestions below.
Plan. The emphasis is on formal with a parterre garden, so you must have a plan. These gardens are the opposite of your carefree, somewhat wild cottage gardens, but are just as beautiful. Examine the space where you want your Houston, Texas garden, then plan out where your beds will be, where your paths will lead, and what sort of plants you want in your garden. Grid paper can be useful when planning this out. The symmetrical pattern of a parterre garden makes it beautiful to view from above, so make sure you plant it in a spot in your Houston, Texas yard where it can be seen from above (such as a second story window), without being blocked by trees or structures such as a shed or garage.
Paths. The best way to lay your paths is to use posts and twine. Just drive the posts every few feet and use twine to outline your paths. Remember that the paths should be symmetrical, usually meeting at a circle or in a knot formation in your Houston, Texas garden. A horseshoe pattern is pretty, too. (You can also use spray paint to outline your paths.) A focal point is also lovely – a fountain, bird bath, or decorative bench. Even a small flowering bush looks great – try the Beautyberry, a gorgeous little shrub that will grow to be about five feet tall in your Houston, Texas parterre garden. It has purple or white berries that birds love. Or try a fruit tree such as the Asian Pear as a focal point (these trees do wonderful in Houston, Texas as they love the hot sun. The fruit is delicious!)
Beds. The simplest way to plant your parterre garden is to use four beds, but you can use as many or as few as your space and budget will allow. Edge your Houston, Texas beds with bricks or decorative landscaping stone; hedges also make a striking border (clipped box hedges were traditionally used in parterre gardens for borders.) Japanese Boxwoods and Dwarf Yaupon Hollies are both excellent to use for edging, and will do well in the Houston, Texas climate.
Plant. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to the plants of your parterre garden. Trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials can all be used (or not – some of the most interesting parterre gardens do not contain any flowers at all.) Hollyhocks, pansies, and delphinium are flowers that will thrive in the Houston, Texas climate while adding color to you parterre garden.
Now you can sit back and enjoy your garden.