Garden Styles

Worldly style of independence. Stylish gardens show calm and serenity.

Green Parrot Gardens creates inventive and sustainable gardens. A garden we design will be elegant, expressive and individual. It will live up to his owner’s personality and will become a much loved hideaway. Beauty and ecology are the foundations of our work.

In our vision a garden with style should always express calmness and serenity. A good style should also offer a certain inventive feeling of unexpectedness, yet be clear and inevitable.

6 garden styles we especially like and design are:

Mediterranean Gardens

Informal gardens

Classic gardens around the Med are usually interpreted either in a formal way, going back to Roman-Italian gardens, or they follow a rather relaxed and natural style like in the south of France.

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A classic informal Provence or Riviera garden features classics like olives, citrus trees, arbutus, certain oaks, lavender, vines, rosemary, certain succulents, grasses and plants from the “garrigue”, “maquis” or “macchia”. The overall look is rather natural, unclipped and exuberant.

Coolness, relaxed shaded sitting areas and dancing shadows, cast onto the surrounding walls and grounds by plants and art, are part of this concept, just like vases and urns from terracotta, large earthen planters, wrought iron structures, wind screens, or water features.

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Muted colours, gravel, and rough natural stones round off this image of a perfect, sun-drenched summer in a relaxed southern ambiente, we’re all longing for.

Formal gardens

A classic formal Med garden on the other hand, means introducing large vertical structures, like cypresses and palm trees.

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Clipped hedges and extensive – spraying – water features, classic natural stone sculptures and planters, rectangular natural stone walls and steps, pebble mosaics or even ornamentally tiled walls round off this style.

These features turn the Mediterranean garden style more into its formal originals from Italy, Spain or even the Orient.

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Small framing boxwood hedges, roundly clipped shrubs, topiary and a plant palette that doesn’t make use of much colour can look very traditional, classical even like in a Roman atrium. But, depending on the architecture, it still can be fun – and look very impressive.

Exotic and tropical gardens

The classic exotic or tropical garden style is of course perfect for warmer climates, but there is a large variety of plants that helps creating a lush and exotic style – even in colder regions. The Mediterranean is predestined for this kind of garden style. It is even more so, as there are many plants from similar climate regions, which are available on the French Riviera or in nearby Italy.

Also, the tropical style presents a lively and inventive contrast to the majority of gardens on the Mediterranean, which still hold fast onto a mixture of formal and informal Med garden styles.

Exotic garden styles showcase different foliage, varying plant sizes, lush plantings and many shades of green, rather than flowers. Nonetheless there are many flowering subtropical, very exotically leafed species that make creating an almost year-round flowering exotic garden possible and very attractive.

A large variety of different species is as important for a successful exotic garden as is a rather dense planting scheme. Contrasting and unexpected “clearings”, even if they are small, and time worn features like an aged structure made of bamboo, or a dark and mossy terracotta urn, help resembling a jungle’s atmosphere.

The exotic style goes very well together with traditional architecture as it does when contrasted with ultra-contemporary and elegant building styles. Even if it has traditionally been used more with informal planting styles, there is good reason to use it in formal ways as well, when contrasted with modern architecture and contemporary structures and materials.

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Water in all forms, like in small fish ponds, little creeks or cascading water falls, is an important feature for this style which, together with dark stone structures and a woody and soft ground, takes us away into distant tropical forests – the ultimate luxurious holiday hideaway.

When exotic planting schemes are combined with a pool design in the first place, “water features” are reaching a completely new level, almost resembling a limpid fresh water pool or lagoon in the middle of a Carribbean jungle.

Due to the necessary horticultural knowledge and design savvy, exotic gardens are not created as often anymore as they should be. Green Parrot Gardens’ “shape style” concept for exotic and tropical gardens is putting the contemporary exotic garden back on the map, and thus honouring one of the best garden designers of all times, Roberto Burle Marx.

Minimalist gardens

Today’s gardens owe most of their design vocabulary to the classic modernist garden. The modern garden usually was a city garden and had a reduced size. Until today a modernist design fits for courtyards, small city gardens, rooftops and atriums.

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A very functional use of the minimal space, rectangular forms, asymmetries, reduced plantings, materials that perfectly blend in with the interiors, a neatly clipped lawn, careful lighting schemes and the utmost attention to the surfaces are characteristics of this style of opportunities.

Traditional hardscape materials like large concrete, slate or sandstone slabs, architectural structures, like square pergolas and sitting areas, and minimal looking water features have been defining this style more than any specific plants.

Contemporary – or modernist – gardens largely depend on the right angle motive, on sharp lines and squares, architectural verticals, like wooden or metal fences and high hedging.  Structures split and deconstruct the space into sub-spaces, allowing unexpected views and perspectives that are not obvious at first sight.

This very clean and reduced, architecture centered look, where plants often play a subordinate part, is full of opportunities for small gardens. But it can be challenging when trying to extend this style to larger areas. More often architectural structures are added – the garden literally becomes an outdoor room.

Fresh design concepts through “shape gardens” and “new ornamental”

While contemporary gardens are a fascinating field for every designer, it can be quite challenging to combine a contemporary concept with local materials and Mediterranean plants in a subtropical climate. We will be happy to help you with ideas how to harmonise the two.

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Through our “shape gardens”, Green Parrot Gardens, have developed a design concept that allows us to give properties of any size a complete, perfect and truly contemporary style, where functional aspects, plants, architecture, art and looks are all conciliated.

This relaxed “shaped garden” style is so cool, it allows us to reintroduce what we call the “new ornamental”. How minimal do you want it? How curvy and lushly planted do you like it? You choose.

Japanese gardens

Traditional Japanese gardens looked very different from what we think of when we envision the classic Japanese garden today: it was like the traditional Chinese garden, opulent, detailed and even quite colourful. But that was a long time ago.

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What’s interesting for us today is that the Japanese garden concept we know today was developed as a reaction to the need to save material, labour and money. This background in low maintenance makes this formidable and stylish garden style especially suitable for today’s requirements for easy-care gardens.

At the heart of a Japanese garden is its unsurpassed and harmonious use of empty space, emphasis, choice of material and detail, which makes it a relative in principle of minimalist styles. No wonder it is often liked by the same people. The big difference though is that the Japanese style is informal in all its graceful impression and its art of omission, which makes it so ultimately intriguing.

One idea of the Japanese garden is to almost create symbolic or miniature landscapes which is one explanation for why it works best within closed walls that surround the complete property. Not only does this serve the need for tranquility, it also purposefully excludes the direct aesthetic connection with the outside world. This way you get the blank canvas that you need to paint the new picture.

Designing the Japanese garden on the Mediterranean is not about placing Buddha sculpures in every corner, it’s not necessarily about putting lanterns up and there’s no law that a Japanese garden requires a koi pond. And there is absolutely no room for clutter with a Japanese garden. 

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What is necessary though is an utmost care for choice and composition. Only certain ground covers look perfect on mounds – or islands – in the vast seas of gravel, that of course has the right size and colour. Stones, water creeks and stepping stones have to be the right size and they have to have the exact colour, while they sit exactly in the right place. Last but not least only certain types of trees and flowering shrubs really work with this style and yes, they do require careful pruning every now and then.

But other than the orchestrating hand when drafting and designing and when building this kind of garden not much is needed. The Japanese garden style certainly is a lot about the exclusion of many things. But in exchange it provides the ultimate haven of tranquility, contemplation, dignity and balance. It makes possible the concentration on what’s essential.

Desert gardens

A desert or oasis garden requires a lot from us as spectators. It’s not water or care what they ask for, which is why they are so perfect for easy-care or “xeriscape” gardens. Instead, what they need is our involvement, our willingness to well, not exactly interact, but to learn to take a closer look. Their manifold principle of defense is so obviously effective and painful that we detect it from afar and literally keep away. What a shame. What helps them to survive prevents us from learning to be fascinated by them.

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Maybe that’s a reason why we see little decisively planted desert gardens that really make a broad use of these fascinating  plants, that can be crude, special, strange and ugly – and yes, even funny. And when you expect it the least, suddenly they can be amazingly beautiful. Maybe it is these individualistic properties that make these creatures the ultimate plant choice for individualistic people.

Many people somehow came to thinking that plants that are adapted to desert climates are not really into water. And it’s true it is their capability of living where a scorching sun and rocks and sand seemingly leave nothing to hope for for a living being, which gives them the ability to take the idea of a low maintenance garden to the highest level one can think of.

But, the opposite is actually true. While cacti, succulents, dasyliria, agavae, acacias and yucca trees are all seen as the embodiments of the Darwinist principle, surviving even the harshest conditions, they do love water too. Of course in moderation, which is why they love good drainage. Anyway, if they so get their share of water they take it all and turn into something that makes us wonder even more about nature’s possibilities.

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It is their ability to perform change in themselves so radically that elevates them to an example for us humans. It makes us learn about respect. It makes us think.

But apart from that, the sheer abundance of shapes from cool to fuzzy, colours from dull to jarring, sizes from awkward to majestic, their forms, flowers, fruits, hairs, spikes, growth habits and seasonal changes makes them form living design pieces in their own right.

Grouped informally and cleverly with larger rocks, between desert shrubs and aside subtropical trees and palms, maybe along dry creeks that serve as swales in the rain season, or lined up in a bed of even sized rocks or pebbles alongside a sleek and elegant 10 sqm window of a contemporary bungalow, makes them also fit to compete as very, very capable garden plants.

Jardins trouvés (“French cottage gardens”)

The “jardin trouvé” is Green Parrot Garden’s answer to the idea of realising an English perennial or cottage garden in a subtropical climate. But it’s much more than that.

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The “jardin trouvé” takes us back in time. It’s like a time capsule from the olden days, full of objects that were common once and that have been forgotten ever since. It’s a journey back into an image of the days of our childhood, when we visited our grandparents in the southernly countryside, when spending the summers at our aunt’s and uncle’s house in the Italian hillsides, where we met our first friends from another culture. Language wasn’t important. We understood each other instinctively, by what we did and showed each other. We were allowed doing things that never would have been possible at home. We made hay for the first time in our lives, helped the neighbours harvesting the fruits of the summer and experienced our first feelings of intense yearning that we wished would never end. When leaving we felt we would never be happy again.

In our memories this is all condensed into one very strong complex of scents, images and emotions that we can’t tell apart. It defines who we are.

The jardin trouvé is made to bring us back to these golden summerly, southernly days, when in an Edenic moment you turn around a corner of an old village wall, you open up a door and suddenly everything that you know from your past is there again, concentrated in one place, one moment, as if it awoke only this morning. The ultimate and surprising feeling of an unexpected find, a secret which only you have just discovered.

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Within these walls, or in this court, even if it’s only a tiny place, an atrium or a walled part of a larger garden, everything is happening at the same time. Everything is blooming, humming, whirring and warbling. Crickets are chirping in the trees and a tiny water feature somewhere hidden in the shady back corner under the strawberry tree is playing in its mossy basin, that birds use as their bath.

In this tiny world there is no perfect order. Like with an exotic or tropical garden becoming and passing away is part of the picture as a whole. Space, maybe even the paths that we use, is limited. Here not we are in the center of things, but we are part of things: only a small sitting area, gravel, shade, a tiny light wrought iron table and two chairs. That’s our place amidst this exuberant paradise of wild orchids, samphire, euphorbia, roses, sage and mallow, vinca, rosemary and almond trees, among bay and chestnut, apricot and mulberry.

This garden style, that feels like a fortunate coincidence, isn’t designed as easily as it may be relished by its romantic adorers. But it certainly is worth the effort to give back to people who don’t always have to be in the center of things, a piece of their childhood, a space to breathe, to remember and to refocus.

Woodland gardens & parks

We call “woodland” a type of garden which normally would be associated with country gardens or parks. A woodland or country garden usually requires larger property sizes and extensive views of the surrounding landscape which are crucial for the individual garden concept.

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The main challenge lies within the scale of a country garden project, which normally makes it necessary to split the space into smaller parts and assign them to different uses, like “family garden”, “sports area”, “productive garden”, “rose garden”, “lawn area” etc.

Traditionally a woodland garden concept, be it formal or informal, classic or contemporary would mean to carefully arrange highly designed and less designed areas. The further away from the house, the less designed the gardens become until the garden blends into the woods, machia or into the countryside.

A woodland garden or park concept naturally lends itself as the ultimate space for feature rich gardens where wandering around takes its time and leads the observer to changing structures, architectural features and attractions.

Needless to say that a woodland concept is the perfect approach for large water gardens, landscape art and sculpture collections.

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