What makes an English garden an "English Garden"? For me, I think it has to be the overabundance of fragrant, multi-hued flowers and foliage growing with restrained abandon. That's what I love about them. I hear that English gardeners are one of the most dedicated and hard-working gardeners as a group around (unfortunately I don't know any of them). So the overgrown look of an English garden isn't from neglect or laziness - I see it rather as the effects of nurturing and tending natural elements towards their natural states. I so prefer their relaxed unadulterated beauty compared to the more formal, orderliness of French gardens, for instance. Not to say that French gardens aren't beautiful in their own right and that English gardens aren't meticulously planned.
When I think of an English garden, I envision a compact spot of land where a floral wonderland of blooming buds, herbs, shrubberies and trailing vines create secret nooks and crannies. These secret gardens full of fantasy and whimsy are where children (and adults) can imagine, dream and play, as free as birds wafting through honeysuckle-scented air.
On a similar note, when I was still a girl, I went through a long phase where I would decorate my bedroom in the style of Brideshead Revisited, with lots of knick knacks, scarves, jewelry (costume of course) and books clustered on top of all my surfaces - night table, desk, and bookshelves. I loved the look of it, the fancy clutter and the artfulness of the carefully organized disorganization. Sadly (and my fault it was entirely), the dust which naturally accumulated on all of the aforementioned knick knacks, stacks of books etc. became too overpowering. I was then, and remain to this day, a poor duster however I think the sheer number of "things" to dust put me off the whole idea of dusting after a few weeks. Thus began a new phase of interior design - the stark Japanese Zen look.
Photo #1 came from Chelsea Pensioners Garden
Photo #2 came from the Royal Horticultural Society