Outdoor Spaces

A Modern Victorian Garden

Victorian touches and a cutting garden filled with colorful blooms are the highlights of Pat and Alan Ware's lush backyard space.

by Tessa Cooper

Mar 2023

Victorian-themed garden in southwest Missouri
Photo by Brandon AlmsCross vine, honeysuckle and sweet autumn clematis grow over the gazebo just a few steps away from the waterʼs edge in this modern Victorian garden. The blooms produce a sweet scent that attracts pollinators

With its combination of contemporary and antique touches, the garden at Pat and Alan Ware’s home makes you feel like you’re stepping into an elusive time period. 

Here, heirloom perennials surround a zen-like pond. Crossing over the pond’s bridge, you can peer down and see floating water lilies and time-worn statues. It’s like a real-life setting of the classic Victorian novel The Secret Garden.

The Wares have spent nearly four decades cultivating their enchanting garden, and they even rebuilt their home and landscaping features after a tornado damaged the area in the early 2000s. Pat specifically chose plants that produce abundant blooms, and she lovingly refers to it as her “cutting garden.”

She especially loves heirloom plants, and her aunts gifted many of the ones in her garden. “I’ve also dug up plants from old homesteads from most of the abandoned farms around here,” she says. “I grew up here, so I know whose place they came from. So I’ve got one Helen’s plants under one tree and [a different] Helen’s plants under another tree.”

Bridge and statue in Victorian-themed southwest Missouri garden
Photos by Brandon AlmsPat and Alan purchased the statue pictured from a friend’s auction. The concrete lady now overlooks the pond the Wares added to their land in 1998. Purchase Photo
Flower in Victorian-themed southwest Missouri garden
Photos by Brandon AlmsSeveral of the blooms in Pat’s garden have sentimental value. Some of the perennials are transplants from Pat’s family and friends’ gardens Purchase Photo
Sculpture on display in Victorian-themed southwest Missouri garden
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe Wares’ sculptures and statues make for timeless and meaningful garden art. “A lot of our concrete is actually pieces that were passed around through several friends,” Pat says. Purchase Photo
Garden in southwest Missouri with a Victorian theme
Photos by Brandon AlmsPat’s father gifted the couple their land in 1984, and Pat started working on the garden before they even started building their house. Their home and land underwent significant tornado damage in 2003, but the two cleared up the debris and restored their property back to an even more beautiful state. Purchase Photo
Cat lying in Victorian-themed southwest Missouri garden
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe Wares’ cat, Paddy Paws, enjoys the garden just as much as they do. “He rules the roost so he spends time wherever he wants to,” Pat says. Purchase Photo
Pat Ware
Photos by Brandon AlmsPat’s father was a farmer, so a love for tending to the land runs in her blood. “I realized that it’s just part of me, and I’ve been gardening since my mid-20s,” she says. Purchase Photo

Pat always had a penchant for the Victorian era. Rather than purchasing a period home to fix up on a plot of land, the couple decided to build their own inspired version. “Having done that with the house, it was just natural to move outside with it,” she says. “When I think of the Victorian era, I think over-the-top in a way with statuary and cool things to look at. So that’s kind of what I’ve done with it.”

Pretty much year-round, Pat has something to work on in the garden, whether that’s adding an annual in early spring or searching for the first daffodil blooms in the end of February. Alan’s main job is to build and maintain the landscaping structures. In fact, he laid the stonework and paths himself.

It’s a labor of love, and they use their garden to bring joy to others. Daffodils are one of Pat’s favorite flowers to grow, and she’s accumulated thousands of bulbs for nearly 200 daffodil varieties throughout the years. “I do cut flower arrangements for my church whenever there are enough daffodils to make the first bunch up until hard frost,” Pat says. “I love playing with flowers.”