Landscape Ideas for a Formal Southern Garden
A List of South Carolina Native Plants for Formal Gardens
Formal gardens have long been a symbol of tradition, elegance, and wealth.
Beautiful plants and flowers perfectly placed requires a designer’s eye to execute well. Somewhere as naturally beautiful as Kiawah Island must include the appropriate vegetation to create a formal Southern garden. Incorporating a variety of South Carolina native plants to your garden’s landscape design is ideal for maintaining the local ecosystem and creating an ornate garden to enjoy for years to come.
Discover the design elements used to create a formal garden, along with a list of Kiawah and South Carolina native plants to include.
Design Elements of Formal Southern Gardens
Add Focal Points Throughout
For a garden to be truly formal, it must have focal points that draw attention. Certain planting techniques can guide the eye toward a specific feature, whether it be a plant or design element. These features tend to be purely ornamental and act as a centerpiece in the middle of your garden. A single stately oak tree or a wall of pure white hydrangeas makes for a gorgeous focal point.
Try a Variety of Shapes and Sizes
Use plants in groupings of the same height to create cohesiveness within your garden landscape. Unlike casual gardens that are eclectic and somewhat messy in appearance, a formal garden should exude Southern charm and architectural interest. Utilize your favorite South Carolina native plants by adding them as distinct borders and creating straight lines. Repetition is another great technique for creating definition and elegance with plants.
Construct Structured Pathways
Whether the path serves a purpose or simply for decor, it must be symmetrical and well-manicured to look properly formal. As mentioned, straight lines are a key element in formal gardens. Linear paths can be made of many types of material depending on the specific look you are going for. Common materials include bricks, pavers, stones, or even vegetation that can withstand high foot-traffic.
Stick to Cohesive Themes and Aesthetic
A natural garden can feel disorderly. While this can be beautiful in the right setting, formal gardens complement luxury homes by following a theme and certain aesthetic. Plant a variety of colors, or focus on monochromatic colors for a sophisticated garden. Be sure to incorporate the same materials for your planters, boxes, paths, water features, and so on. Together, this will create a refined garden space with elevated style. A perfect match for the coastal-inspired design seen in Kiawah homes.
Incorporate Style with Decor
Decorative pieces work as the perfect finishing touches –– adding to the beauty of your South Carolina native plants. An elegant arbor wrapped in green vines, a single bench underneath an old oak, a few adirondack chairs spread across a green lawn — all of these items serve a functional and decorative purpose in your garden.
Aside from formal gardens, see what other must-haves you will want in your luxury coastal home.
South Carolina Native Plants for Formal Gardens
Native SC Flowers
- Wild Indigo is a South Carolina native plant that produces deep purple blooms in the springtime and has a long history on the Island.
- Bluestar, or Amsonia, are native perennials with showy spring flowers and fall color for year-round beauty.
- Add Goldenrod plants for plumes of soft yellow flowers.
- Fire Pink plants are a species of wildflower that adds an organic look thanks to its distinct coloring.
- Attract butterflies, bees, and other important pollinators with Black Eyed Susans and Coneflowers. These perennials bloom during the warmer months and give off a full look reminiscent of a charming English garden.
- Oakleaf Hydrangeas and Silky Camellias are lush shrubs with green foliage and gorgeous flower heads during certain seasons.
- Climbing plants can be used to accentuate certain features such as an arbor or spare wall. Wisteria boasts feathery flowers that delicately drape across trees and other structures. Whereas Coral Honeysuckle has long, tubular flowers that are brightly colored and especially attractive to hummingbirds.
Native SC Trees
- Black Gum and Red Maple trees are two tree types that provide brilliant fall foliage in shades of scarlet, yellow and orange.
- Several oak species including Overcup, Willow, and Shumard are also great tree options if you would like to add autumn colors to your garden.
- Flowering trees such as the Magnolia and Tulip Poplar are showstoppers when in full bloom.
- Classic Palmetto trees are found in coastal areas and are one of the most well-known South Carolina native plants.
Kiawah Island Native Plants for Formal Gardens
Native Kiawah Flowers
- Fragrant and lovely, Atamasco Lilies are elegant star-shaped flowers that thrive here on Kiawah.
- Sundial Lupines are another purple beauty that are of special value to native bees.
- A third option is the Rose Mallow hibiscus flower. Over 28 species of butterflies and moths use this plant.
Native Kiawah Trees
- Choose from a variety of Oak and Magnolia trees to fill your South Carolina native garden.
- Or, plant an American Dogwood that puts on a magnificent display of white from March until October.
- The pink flowers of the Redbud tree make an incredible addition to formal gardens if you want spectacular colors.
Thanks to the lush vegetation, Kiawah has an abundance of wildlife that also calls Kiawah home. From alligators to dolphins, bobcats and tropical fish, the opportunities for viewing spectacular wildlife is never-ending.
Embrace Southern Living on Kiawah Island
Luxurious yet laid-back, a Southern formal garden epitomizes what life is like on Kiawah. When living here, you have top amenities at your fingertips and stunning nature right outside your door. It may seem like you are on vacation, but it can also be the place you call home.
To see what our Island homes have to offer, browse our latest listings. Click the button below to find your Kiawah Island dream home.