Creating a Cottage-Style Garden

Blossom Lady
Apr 24, 2021 05:47 AM
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.

2. Furniture

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.

3. Groundwork

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.

4. Containers

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.

5. Ornaments

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.

Fragrant essences

Creating a Cottage-Style Garden
Aromatic herbs like lavender look and smell wonderful, and have culinary and cosmetic value. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun and clip lightly after flowering. For evening scents, try honeysuckle and Hesperis matronalis. More options: Dame’s violet (Hesperis matronalis); jasmine (Jasminum officinale); sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus); sweet william (Dianthus barbatus).

Tall story

Creating a Cottage-Style Garden
Feathery-leaved fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) with its tall stems topped with flat golden flowers is attractive to hoverflies. It provides the perfect soft-focus backdrop to bold flower shapes like rose, dahlia, iris, and peony. More options: Delphinium; foxglove (Digitalis); hollyhock (Alcea rosea); monkshood (Aconitum); mullein (Verbascum); penstemon.

Daisy chains

Creating a Cottage-Style Garden
The child-like simplicity of daisies adds to the relaxed ambience of the cottage garden. Depending on how much room you have, choose between taller or more compact forms of the easily pleased Shasta daisy. More options: Michaelmas daisy (Aster); pot marigold (Calendula officinalis); pyrethrum (Tanacetum coccineum).

Bee magnets

Creating a Cottage-Style Garden
With fruit and vegetables to pollinate, cottage gardeners used to include flowers like Campanula persicifolia to draw bees in. It grows in sun or shade and self-seeds lightly, forming drifts among the other plants. More options: Cranesbill (Geranium); Geum; Knautia; Verbena bonariensis.

Rose romance

Creating a Cottage-Style Garden
Perfumed shrub roses are essential additions. Try English roses with their old-rose looks and good disease resistance. Provide well- manured soil or reasonably moisture-retentive soil, enriched with granular rose fertilizer. More options: Rosa ‘Albertine’; Rosa ‘Dublin Bay’; Rosa ‘Jayne Austin’.
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