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:
This is the second post in a series on raised bed gardens (First post here: Benefits of Raised Garden Beds). The best thing about raised beds is that you can use just about anything for walls. So how do you build garden box walls? Here is a list of the typical materials you can use.
Wood: The Typical Raised Bed
Creating a wooden raised bed is quite simple, and can range from a few hour project, to one that takes up the whole weekend. You can use just about any type of wood, but ones that naturally prevent rotting are the best choices. Redwood and cedar will provide the most longevity, and turn that beautiful color grey as they age. Avoid pressure treated wood, as the chemicals can leach into the contained soil. How long will wood raised beds last? Cedar and redwood will last 10 – 20 years, other wood types like pine or douglas fir, about 3 – 5 years. 12″ planks are best for the walls, but if you have some carpentry skills, 2-3 feet can provide a convenient gardening experience.
Stone: Raised Bed For the Ages
Stone walls for raised beds have been used for centuries, and endure the test of time. You can use just about any stone, and just stack them or use mortar to make them a bit more permanent. Even if you don’t use mortar, dirt will typically fill the cracks over time for a nice aesthetic.
Concrete: Quick Beds
Concrete blocks can provide a quick and easy road to building a raised garden. You can use traditional square blocks and just stack them, mortar them, or use the manufactured blocks that are so popular at the big home stores. The manufactured blocks are nice as they have grooves to interlock so they don’t fall over. (Home Depot Stackers for Raised Beds)
Metal: The New Raised Bed
Corrugated roofing metal is a new trend in raised beds and if used correctly, it looks quite nice. Combined with a wood top rail, it can provide a nice look and be quite functional. Galvanized metal is rust resistant and will last a long time. You can get the roofing material from any big home store, and its relatively cheap. You just need the means to cut it, and fasten ends.
More on the construction of raised beds in my next post.
Information About Cottage Garden Design and Ideas for the Cottage Garden
As we build out our picket fence cottage garden and put in a new cottage-themed shed, we have been doing a ton of research on cottage design, cottage ideas and themes. Below are some of the best links we have found for your cottage garden research efforts.
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 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?
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
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:
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..
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pinks, Purples and Whites – for most cottage gardens, its all about the color palette, and creating a sense of romance and whimsy.
Scents are Key – tied to the visual romance, is one of glorious scents: lavenders, peonies, roses and the like.
Creating enclosed spaces – the typical cottage garden is enclosed by a picket fence, with climbers weaving through the pickets.
Creating other spaces – within the garden, there should be small themes here and there, concentrations of colors, heights and shapes.
Use informal crowding – the typical cottage garden is tight and compact, almost overflowing with flowers and foliage.
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.
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.
Intriguing elements – a mix of statues, design, birdhouses, fountains, benches, etc. should be placed throughout.
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.
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.