Plant a Cottage Garden

Early cottage gardens were used to plant for food in humble homes of common folk . The gardens were started for practical as well as aesthetic  purposes. Gardens were designed to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs that the homeowners could eat or sell. Over the years, families added  bright spots of color at the front door by using hardy plants that multiply easily.

cottage garden picture

This wild and quirky garden style became very popular in the Victorian era. In the mid 1800s rich travelers would bring back exotic plants and flowers for their conservatories and “cottage gardens” .

They placed kitchen herbs next to exotic flowers and masses of perennials that had reseeded from the year before.

What makes a cottage-country garden?

I picture a thatched-roofed cottage surrounded by masses of tall flowers and plants. 

But most of us don’t have actual cottages – so the cottage garden style that has emerged today is determined by other things like the types of flowers that are used, an informal garden design, and location of the garden to the house.

Other terms evoke the same inspiration- Country Garden , or  English Garden .

This garden style can be a combintation of blooms with color all season ,mixing herbs and flowers together in a garden bed close to the house .

Think of a garden that’s a bit busy ….packed with blooms and garden objects and structures.  Wild and unkempt.... playful,fun and interesting should be the gardne design goals.

Often this kind of garden is designed to mix herbs and shrubs in with all of the flowers; even small fruit trees.   

 Using lots of different kinds of flowers, trees, and shrubs in your cottage garden can be challenging to design and sustain.

It takes some skill and  work to maintain all of the plantings to keep the wild cottage look ,and not become a messy nightmare. Follow these tips and you can create a cottage styled garden of your own.

Easy to grow flowers

Traditional cottage plants are usually native to the area; hardy, easy to grow perennials and reseeding annual flowers.

These are my favorites below. Create the combination  of color and texture that speaks to you for a colorful and simple garden plan.

Apple or pear trees

Baby’s Breath

Black Eyed Susan/Rudbeckia

Bleeding Heart

Butterfly Bush

Cone Flower



English Lavender



Holly Hock



Liatris /Gay Feather


Monarda/Bee Balm

Moon Flower

Morning Glory





9 ideas for creating a cottage garden

  1. Use garden structures and trees for height and balance.Keep the walkways natural -landscaping stone,mulch,or moss are good choices for a garden path.
  2. Keep the garden full and lush. The flowers should spill out into the yard and paths.
  3. Plant the flowers in large groupings; Group the flowers together for better impact – use a large number of smaller plants so that the flowers aren’t “lost” in the garden.
  4. Repetition of color helps balance the disparate annual plants.
  5. Repeating a group of plants will create harmony among the diverse mixture of plants.
  6. Construct the garden to pull your visitors up to the front door  with front yard landscaping ideas that include walkways  surrounded with flowers; all the way  up to the house.
  7. Plant flowers close together for a full dense look – this also keeps the weeds in check. ( Read more practical garden tips .... )
  8. Instead of a full cottage style garden, you can use the cottage flowers and techniques in a border garden .
  9. Use natural materials for trellis or arbor. Use wooden picket fences ot make a country fence out of twigs and branches.(pictured above)

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