Creating a Cottage-Style Garden
The key to creating a cottage-style garden is to adopt a relaxed, fluid approach to planting. Grow a jumble of ornamentals including iconic delphiniums, hollyhocks, geraniums, nasturtiums, marigolds, and sweet peas, and mix with edibles including herbs, fruits, and decorative vegetables. Weave in softer-looking plants such as Verbena bonariensis and bronze fennel as a contrast to bold blooms like roses and Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum). Allowing some flowers to self-seed adds to the effect. For cottage appeal, fill gaps in an existing border with some of the plants featured here. In a new bed, try an English rose at the back with three delphiniums in a loose cluster nearby. Add a French lavender and a medium- height Shasta daisy in front with a drift of 3–5 Campanula along the edge.
Although the whole point of a cottage garden is that there are no rules or guidelines, these tips can help as you get started:
1. Start small.
An expansive cottage garden can look like an untended garden; you can always add more later if you decide to. Keep a bit of lawn to break things up and avoid straight lines in planning your garden plot.
Go for assorted painted kitchen chairs around a stripped pine table or, for a less utilitarian look, find a wrought-iron set or perhaps a reproduction bench seat.
Gravel or slate chippings are cheap and easy to lay and desirable seedlings will pop up in gravel and soften large expanses. For more formality, edge borders with boards of tanalized (pressure-treated) wood or lay brick pathways.
Press chimney pots and old kitchen pans into service as rustic flower pots or use simple terracotta or lead-effect containers and wooden half-barrels.
Cottage gardens offer a haven for wildlife, so a birdbath or beehive makes an ideal focus. Wicker and rusting wirework sculptures of wild and farmyard creatures also work well.
6. Use a good mix of plants.
Use a variety of fragrant flowers, and start by planting large clumps so it's not just a jumble. Here are some ideas below.