formal garden in Litchfield, Connecticut
Photo: Richard Brown

Strong Bones

A formal garden such as the Litchfield, Connecticut, one in this gallery has a symmetrical architectural design that is easy to see. A traditional knot of sheared boxwood is surrounded by beds of ornamental herbs punctuated with more boxwood topiary and lilac standards.

But the key to a successful landscape design isn't the greenery that catches your eye. It's the unchanging structural framework that organizes and supports those flowers and shrubs—what are known as the "bones" of a garden. Some of these may be natural—large trees, stone outcroppings, or a pond, for instance. But it's the constructed, architectural elements—such as walls, fences, patios, pools, pathways, and arbors—that really add definition to an outdoor space and make it useful for everyday activities.
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