Loomis Flower Farm Shop

Cottage Gardens

Cottage Garden Design, Planting, Plans and Info

 

 

 

 

 

Cottage gardens are our favorite theme when it comes to ideas, planting and design.  Why?  You can’t make mistakes when designing a cottage garden.  There are some simple design principles and overarching themes, but other than that, creating controlled chaos is fun and rewarding.  We have sections of the site devoted to these cottage garden areas:

You can also browse below through any of our tagged articles or pages on the cottage garden topic.

Cottage Garden FAQ

Answers to your questions about the English Cottage Garden

This is a compilation of our information on Cottage Gardens, focusing on design, plants, themes and elements.

What is a cottage garden?

What is a cottage garden?

What is a cottage garden?

The cottage garden is a distinct gardening style that uses informal and almost chaotic design, traditional materials, dense varied plantings, testures and colors and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, it depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure.

What describes the typical Cottage Garden?

What describes the typical Cottage Garden?

What describes the typical Cottage Garden?

Here is a list of triats for the typical English Cottage Garden and its design:
  • Varied plantings
  • Annuals and Pernnials
  • Flowing color
  • Varied textures
  • Layered
  • Controlled Chaos
  • Slightly Disorganized
  • Curved Paths
  • Scented Plants
  • Varied Features
  • Outdoor rooms
  • Walls of Stone and Flowers
  • Whispy
  • Whimsical
  • Overflowing

What plants are used in a Cottage Garden?

What plants are used in a Cottage Garden?

What plants are used in a Cottage Garden?

Plant selection is one of the most important parts of any english Cottage Garden plan or design. Here are some Cottage Garden plant lists based on types: Annuals for the Cottage Garden Perennials for the Cottage Garden

What are some features in and around a Cottage Garden?

What are some features in and around a Cottage Garden?

What are some features in and around a Cottage Garden?

The Cottage Garden is abound with features, from meandering paths to gates and pickets fences, bird baths and statues, to rocks and trellises. Really, you can add anything to the Cottage landscape and incorporate it into your layout. Here are some top used features: Cottage Garden Features.

What is the history behind the English Cottage Garden?

What is the history behind the English Cottage Garden?

What is the history behind the English Cottage Garden?

The traditional English cottage garden has a rich and deep history. In medieval times, they contained practical plants, like herbs, fruit trees, vegetables, a beehive and often livestock, providing food and nourishment for poor cottage dwellers. Flowers tended to have a practical, rather than an aesthetic value. You can read more here: History of the English Cottage Garden
English Cottage Garden Flowers

Cottage Garden Series: Cottage Garden Plants – Annuals

Picking and Planting Annuals in Your Cottage Garden

Continuing this series on the Cottage Garden, and this post on annuals follows Perennials for the Cottage Garden, and Just What is a Cottage Garden? Annuals provide beauty, texture and amazing color to the cottage garden layout, and there are sooooo many to choose from. Here are some of our favorites, with a list to follow:

Foxglove English Cottage Garden Annual
Foxglove is a great addition to any cottage garden planting design

Foxglove

There are very few flowers that provide such great vertical interest and color as the Foxglove. With its colorful, spotted spikes, and glorious bell shaped flowers, it will provide a great backdrop to any cottage garden planting scheme..

Foxglove in the English Cottage Garden
Snapdragons add beautiful color to the cottage garden.

Snapdragon

A great planting companion with the Foxglove, the Snapdragon is also a vertical interest plant, and provides a great layered effect when planted around the foxglove or delphinium. In such a large array of colors, you cant help but find one or many you love.

Delphinium

These plants are cottage garden mainstays, towering at the back of the border in your choice of shades of blue, pink or white. You will need to stake them before they get too tall, and protect them from slugs and snails early in the season. They will add to your cut flower bouquets and provide great beauty.

Zinnia

These fast blooming, heat loving plants will give your cottage design color, foliage and consistent blooms throughout the summer months. These heat lovers will continue to provide flowers as long as you dead head, and come in amazing colors palettes and sizes to bring a smile to any gardeners face.

Here is a big list of annuals and perennials you can add to your cottage garden for enjoyment:

  • Hydrangea
  • Astilbe
  • Cosmos
  • Bee Balm
  • Gazania
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Coneflower
  • Coral Bells
  • Roses (both traditional and climbing roses)
  • Violets
  • Clematis
  • Wisteria
  • Coreopsis
  • Lavender
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Columbine
  • Phlox
  • Calendula
cottage garden plants

Cottage Garden Series: Cottage Garden Plants – Perennials

What to Perennials Plant in Your Cottage Garden.

This is the second post in a series on Cottage Gardens, mostly focused on the English Cottage Garden style. If you haven’t read the first post, Just What is a Cottage Garden?, take a minute to read about the definition of a cottage garden, and basic design principles for making your own. The cottage garden requires a mix of plants, and we will start with perennials. With those design principles in mind, here is a listing of 5 great plants to start your own English cottage planting.

Lavender plants for the cottage garden
Lavender is one of the staples of Cottage Garden design

Lavender

Oh, the sweet smell of lavender in the cottage garden! This beautiful plant is the perfect companion for any cottage garden design. It provides a great visual foundation with its beautiful color, and if you choose the right variety, the long spikes and grey green foliage will add depth and honey bees to your landscape. Varieties: Provence, Grosso, Hidcote.

Peonies as a plant for cottage gardens
Peonies add beauty to the planting area of your Cottage

Peonies

The beautiful peony can provide multiple elements to your cottage garden layout, and with its beautiful blooms and hardy foliage, can provide great depth and dimension, as well as an amazing scent. White, red or pink, the beautiful, full blooms can be a staple for your english cottage garden.

Hydrangea is a staple for the cottage garden planting scheme
Hydrangea provides wonderful foliage and texture in the Cottage Planting Design

Hydrangea

Ok, I have to say hydrangeas are our favorite flower. And what cottage garden would be complete without these stunners. Pinks, whites, and blues can provide some pop, and amazing texture to the landscape. Their foliage is a beautiful addition from a dimensional perspective, and overtime they fill a great space, and in our opinion is the best shrub for your cottage palette.

Roses

Soft colored roses can be a main staple in your cottage plant list. You can also add a climber or two to provide height and give you an excuse for a trellis or other vertical feature. Colors like peach, salmon and white can give a soft, beautiful addition to the garden planting, and be an anchor that provides beauty year round.

Boxwood

What traditional english garden would be complete without boxwood. It is more likely associated with formal gardening in the UK, but used sparingly, it can be an anchor point in the cottage garden, if left to freely grown, and can provide you a palette for shaping.

A short list, but a starter for your new cottage garden, or spicing up and old one.

Cottage Garden Design Ideas

Just What is the Cottage Garden?

Defining Cottage Garden Style

When we built our new enclosed garden, I started doing some research on the Cottage Garden Design style, and what that really meant. There’s the traditional English Cottage Garden, the Americanized Cottage Garden, the hybrid cottage garden. What are the true fundamentals of the cottage garden design style? Here is a quick definition, the best I found:

The cottage garden is a distinct style that uses informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. The earliest cottage gardens were more practical than today’s, with emphasis on vegetables and herbs, fruit trees, perhaps a beehive, and even livestock. (Wikipedia)

The original cottage gardens were built by British laborers who had little time for maintenance, but needed a space to help feed the family, grow herbs for medicine, and flowers to bring birds and helping insects nearby.

As time went on, the British nobility began to idealize the cottage life, and the concept of the cottage garden was expanded, and the beauty of flowers became a focus in cottage garden design.

So, in researching, here are some key elements and design principles for making a cottage garden.

  1. Pinks, Purples and Whites – for most cottage gardens, its all about the color palette, and creating a sense of romance and whimsy.
  2. Scents are Key – tied to the visual romance, is one of glorious scents: lavenders, peonies, roses and the like.
  3. Creating enclosed spaces – the typical cottage garden is enclosed by a picket fence, with climbers weaving through the pickets.
  4. Creating other spaces – within the garden, there should be small themes here and there, concentrations of colors, heights and shapes.
  5. Use informal crowding – the typical cottage garden is tight and compact, almost overflowing with flowers and foliage.
  6. A mix of pathways – the garden should almost feel as you can wander through its curving pathways for hours. Informal edges should allow creeping plants to encroach on the stroll.
  7. Mixing colors – sticking with a single palette is taboo, and there should be a sense of disorganized chaos in both color and texture of plant.
  8. Intriguing elements – a mix of statues, design, birdhouses, fountains, benches, etc. should be placed throughout.
  9. There are no rules – the best part is just go for it, and put your ideas into your design. If you don’t like it, change it 🙂

More to come, as this is one of our favorite topics.

Cottage Garden Design Attributes

The Cottage Garden: Planting From Scratch

So, I’ve wanted to build a cottage/English garden for some time now and started a larger project than I anticipated. In doing research I wanted to understand what attributes make up this type of garden, and what features I wanted to include. There are really two main kinds of English Garden: the rolling estate/park and the cottage garden. The rolling estate is lush with broad expanses of green, and has a park feel broken up by “rooms” or areas of diverse planting. The cottage is your typical loose, flowing and colorful garden.

Key Attributes of an English Garden

So here is a collection of English/cottage garden traits I compiled:

  • Abundance – in the garden there is always a feel of slight overgrowth and abundance. Bare spots are not allowed, paths should be slightly crowded with blooms. There needs to be a “full” feeling.
  • Natural – plants should always look like they are in their natural habitat.
  • Weaving – using a variety of plants, vines and containers there should be a woven feel throughout the garden.
  • Variety – there should be a variety of bloom types,, sizes and colors to create a visual texture.
  • Informality – There is always a main theme of informality on the verge of organized chaos.
  • Layers – using height and plant types, there should be a layering of foliage and blooms.

Stay tuned for more on my Cottage Garden project.

Loading cart ...
Skip to toolbar