The key to cottage garden design is to not make it look designed or formal. Try to avoid tight shapes, rigid patterns and straight lines. Curving or winding walkways are nice ways to break up big areas and they can be lined with cobblestones, stepping stones, mulch or even left as grass. Planting creeping thyme between pathway stones softens the look and adds a bit of fragrance with each step taken! Go wild mixing colours. Cottage gardens should look exuberant and unrestrained.
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The cottage garden is a distinct style that uses informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, it depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure. Homely and functional gardens connected to cottages go back centuries, but their stylized reinvention occurred in s England, as a reaction to the more structured, rigorously maintained estate gardens with their formal designs and mass plantings of greenhouse annuals.
The earliest cottage gardens were more practical than today's, with emphasis on vegetables and herbs, fruit trees, perhaps a beehive, and even livestock. Flowers, used to fill spaces, gradually became more dominant. The traditional cottage garden was usually enclosed, perhaps with a rose-bowered gateway.
Flowers common to early cottage gardens included traditional florists' flowers such as primroses and violets , along with flowers with household use such as calendula and various herbs. Others were the richly scented old-fashioned roses that bloomed once a year, and simple flowers like daisies. In time, cottage-garden sections were added to some large estate gardens as well.
Modern cottage gardens include countless regional and personal variations and embrace plant materials, such as ornamental grasses or native plants not seen in the rural gardens of cottagers. Traditional roses, with their full fragrance and lush foliage, continue to be a cottage-garden mainstay—along with modern disease-resistant varieties that retain traditional attributes. Informal climbing plants, whether traditional or modern hybrids, are also common, as are the self-sowing annuals and freely spreading perennials favoured in traditional cottagers' gardens.
Cottage gardens, which emerged in Elizabethan times, appear to have originated as a local source for herbs and fruits.
Helen Leach analysed the historical origins of the romanticised cottage garden, subjecting the garden style to rigorous historical analysis, along with the ornamental potager and the herb garden. She concluded that their origins were less in workingmen's gardens in the 19th century and more in the leisured classes' discovery of simple hardy plants, in part through the writings of John Claudius Loudon.
Authentic gardens of the yeoman cottager would have included a beehive and livestock, and frequently a pig and sty, along with a well. The peasant cottager of medieval times was more interested in meat than flowers, with herbs grown for medicinal use and cooking, rather than for their beauty. Even the early cottage garden flowers typically had their practical use—violets were spread on the floor for their pleasant scent and keeping out vermin ; calendulas and primroses were both attractive and used in cooking.
Others, such as sweet william and hollyhocks , were grown entirely for their beauty. The "naturalness" of informal design began to be noticed and developed by the British leisured class. Alexander Pope was an early proponent of less formal gardens, calling in a article for gardens with the "amiable simplicity of unadorned nature".
The evolution of cottage gardens can be followed in the issues of The Cottage Gardener —61 , edited by George William Johnson , where the emphasis is squarely on the "florist's flowers", carnations and auriculas in fancy varieties that were originally cultivated as a highly competitive blue-collar hobby. William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll helped to popularise less formal gardens in their many books and magazine articles. Robinson's The Wild Garden , published in , contained in the first edition an essay on "The Garden of British Wild Flowers", which was eliminated from later editions.
Her Colour in the Flower Garden is still in print today. Robinson and Jekyll were part of the Arts and Crafts Movement , a broader movement in art, architecture, and crafts during the late 19th century which advocated a return to the informal planting style derived as much from the Romantic tradition as from the actual English cottage garden.
In the early 20th century the term "cottage garden" might be applied even to as large and sophisticated a garden as Hidcote Manor , which Vita Sackville-West described as "a cottage garden on the most glorified scale"  but where the colour harmonies were carefully contrived and controlled, as in the famous "Red Borders".
Sackville-West had taken similar models for her own "cottage garden", one of many "garden rooms" at Sissinghurst Castle —her idea of a cottage garden was a place where "the plants grow in a jumble, flowering shrubs mingled with Roses,  herbaceous plants with bulbous subjects, climbers scrambling over hedges, seedlings coming up wherever they have chosen to sow themselves". The cottage garden in France is a development of the early 20th century. Monet 's garden at Giverny is a prominent example, a sprawling garden full of varied plantings, rich colors, and water gardens.
In modern times, the term 'cottage garden' is used to describe any number of informal garden styles, using design and plants very different from their traditional English cottage garden origins. Examples include regional variations using a grass prairie scheme in the American midwest and California chaparral cottage gardens. While the classic cottage garden is built around a cottage , many cottage-style gardens are created around houses and even estates such as Hidcote Manor , with its more intimate "garden rooms".
In spite of their appearances, cottage gardens have a design and formality that help give them their grace and charm. Due to space limitations, they are often in small rectangular plots, with practical functioning paths and hedges or fences. The plants, layout, and materials are chosen to give the impression of casualness and a country feel. What they share with the tradition is the unstudied look, the use of every square inch, and a rich variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
The cottage garden is designed to appear artless, rather than contrived or pretentious. Instead of artistic curves, or grand geometry, there is an artfully designed irregularity. Borders can go right up to the house, lawns are replaced with tufts of grass or flowers, and beds can be as wide as needed.
Instead of the discipline of large scale color schemes, there is the simplicity of harmonious color combinations between neighbouring plants. The overall appearance can be of "a vegetable garden that has been taken over by flowers. But some features, such as planted stone paths, turf pathways, or clipped hedges overgrown with wayward vines, still need well-timed maintenance.
Paths, arbors, and fences use traditional or antique looking materials. Wooden fences and gates, paths covered with locally made bricks or stone, and arbors using natural materials all give a more casual—and less formal—look and feel to a cottage garden. Until the late 19th century, cottage gardens mainly grew vegetables for household consumption. Typically half the garden would be used for cultivating potatoes and half for a mix of other vegetables plus some culinary and medicinal herbs.
In he wrote "I seldom observe any thing in a cottage garden but potatoes, cabbages, beans, and French beans; in a few instances onions and parsneps , and very seldom a few peas". Modern cottage garden plants are typically flowers chosen for their old-fashioned and informal appeal. Many modern day gardeners use heirloom or 'old-fashioned' plants and varieties—even though these may not have been authentic or traditional cottage garden plants. For example, modern roses developed by David Austin have been chosen for cottage gardens because of their old-fashioned look multi-petaled form and rosette-shaped flowers and fragrance—combined with modern virtues of hardiness, repeat blooming, and disease-resistance.
Cottage gardens are always associated with roses: shrub roses, climbing roses, and old garden roses with lush foliage, in contrast to the gangly modern hybrid tea roses. Old cottage garden roses include cultivated forms of Rosa gallica , which form dense mounded shrubs 3—4 ft high and wide, with pale pink to purple flowers—with single form to full double form blooms. They are also very fragrant, and include the ancient Apothecary's rose R.
Another old fragrant cottage garden rose is the Damask rose , which is still grown in Europe for use in perfumes. Cultivated forms of this grow 4 to 6 ft or higher, with gently arching canes that help give an informal look to a garden. Even taller generally are the Alba roses, which are not always white, and which bloom well even in partial shade. The Provence rose or Rosa centifolia is the full and fat "cabbage rose" made famous by Dutch masters in their 17th-century paintings.
These very fragrant shrub roses grow 5 ft tall and wide, with a floppy habit that is aided by training on an arch or pillar. The centifolia roses have produced many descendants that are also cottage garden favorites, including varieties of moss rose roses with attractive 'mossy' growth on their flower stalks and flower buds.
Unlike most modern hybrids, the older roses bloom on the previous year's wood, so they aren't pruned back severely each year. Also as they don't bloom continuously, they can share their branches with later-flowering climbers such as Clematis vines, which use the rose branches for support. A rose in the cottage garden is not segregated with other roses, with bare earth or mulch underneath', but is casually blended with other flowers, vines, and groundcover.
With the introduction of China roses derived from Rosa chinensis late in the 18th century, many hybrids were introduced that had the remontant repeat-blooming nature of the China roses, but maintained the informal old rose shape and flower. These included the Bourbon rose and the Noisette rose , which were added to the rose repertoire of the cottage garden, and, more recently, hybrid "English" roses introduced by David Austin.
Many of the old roses had cultivars that grew very long canes, which could be tied to trellises or against walls. These older varieties are called "ramblers", rather than "climbers". The modern cottage garden includes many Clematis hybrids that have the old appeal, with sparse foliage that allows them to grow through roses and trees, and along fences and arbors.
Popular honeysuckles for cottage gardens include Japanese honeysuckle and Lonicera tragophylla. In the traditional cottage garden, hedges served as fences on the perimeter to keep out marauding livestock and for privacy, along with other practical uses. Hawthorn leaves made a tasty snack or tea, while the flowers were used for making wine.
The fast-growing Elderberry , in addition to creating a hedge, provided berries for food and wine, with the flowers being fried in batter or made into lotions and ointments. The wood had many uses, including toys, pegs, skewers, and fishing poles. Holly was another hedge plant, useful because it quickly spread and self-seeded. Privet was also a convenient and fast-growing hedge. Over time, more ornamental and less utilitarian plants became popular cottage garden hedges, including laurel , lilac , snowberry , japonica , and others.
Popular flowers in the traditional cottage garden included florist's flowers which were grown by enthusiasts—such as violets, pinks, and primroses  —and those grown with a more practical purpose. For example, the calendula , grown today almost entirely for its bright orange flowers, was primarily valued for eating, for adding color to butter and cheese, for adding smoothness to soups and stews, and for all kinds of healing salves and preparations. Like many old cottage garden annuals and herbs, it freely self-sowed, making it easier to grow and share.
Perennials were the largest group of traditional cottage garden flowers  —those with a long cottage garden history include hollyhocks , carnations , sweet williams , marguerites , marigolds , lilies , peonies , tulips , crocus , daisies , foxglove , monkshood , lavender , campanulas , Solomon's seal , evening primrose , lily-of-the-valley , primrose , cowslips , and many varieties of roses.
Today herbs are typically thought of as culinary plants, but in the traditional cottage garden they were considered to be any plant with household uses.
Herbs were used for medicine, toiletries, and cleaning products. Scented herbs would be spread on the floor along with rushes to cover odors. Some herbs were used for dyeing fabrics. Fruit in the traditional cottage garden would have included an apple and a pear , for cider and perry ,  gooseberries and raspberries.
The modern cottage garden includes many varieties of ornamental fruit and nut trees, such as crabapple and hazel , along with non-traditional trees like dogwood. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Distinct style of garden. Gardening portal Gardens portal. ISBNFrances Lincoln Publishers. Auckland: Godwit. The Cottage Garden.
Jacqui Hurst. Dorling Kindersley. The University of Chicago Press. Garden History. Garden History, Vol. JSTOR
Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners. Photo By: W. Atlee Burpee Co. Home Outdoors Flowers and Plants Flowers. Plant these classic beauties to create a charming, vibrant cottage garden. Pinterest Facebook Twitter Email. By: Lynn Coulter.
A cottage garden is overflowing with flowers, fragrance and charm. Traditional and Recycled Materials; Naturalization of plants is.
That all changed in the second half of the century. Then people began to move to cities and suburbs. Leisure time became available. A wealthy middle-class developed who believed gardening played an important role in daily life. Then cultivating a flower garden became essential for the middle-class Victorian household. The choice of flowers however came largely from the English garden tradition. There are three English garden books from both the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries that listed many of the flowers that were included in the Victorian garden of both England and America. These three directories list flowers that had been in the garden for decades, generations, or even centuries. They reveal many of the old English garden favorites.
Free entry to RHS members at selected times ». General enquiries Mon — Fri 9am — 5pm. Make a donation. Cottage-style gardens need voluptuous planting and haphazard self-seeding to get the look. Here are five key plants to help you achieve it.
This easy-to-grow perennial produces white or blue flowers that grow on stiff sturdy stems. It blooms in late spring to early summer, and like most cottage garden plants, bellflowers are great for cutting.
American gardeners have long looked to England for ideas on garden design. English-style gardens have been promoted in seed catalogs, gardening books, and magazines sinceThey often feature sweeping lawns, perennial borders, rose gardens, cottage gardens, rock gardens, curving paths, plant-filled urns, and Victorian carpet beds—those low spirals of colorful annuals planted in long ribbons. Of those styles, cottage gardens remain popular today here and abroad. During medieval times, cottage dwellers in Britain packed their meager garden plots with culinary and medicinal herbs, fruits, and vegetables out of utter necessity.
This combination has all of the traditional cottage garden elements. These selections have an extended bloom season, and are drought-tolerant, which means no fuss, no muss beauty all summer long. The Dianthus and Sweet Alyssum will fill the air with the fragrance of honey and cloves, and the Silene provides unique beauty with its brightly variegated foliage. This is a real workhorse of a plant. The flowers bloom pretty much constantly until the first frost, especially if deadheaded. The real star here is the chartreuse and green foliage.
This is a story of English cultural beliefs about where plants belong. This new “Old-English” garden was derived from idealized old-fashioned.
D o you admire the pictures, but have been unsure of how to put together your own cottage garden? Why not start with one corner of your yard or a front dooryard entry? Eventually you will have that Cottage Garden. Make a list of the Cottage garden plants you want.RELATED VIDEO: Plants For An English Country Garden
A cottage garden, also known as a romantic garden, is where old and new plants mingle together. Paths and low hedges of lavender or buxus, self-sown gems such as aquilegia, pansy and viola, topiaries to lead you around corners, old fruit trees, roses, jasmine and honeysuckle smothering gateways, and pots or urns as centrepieces. Define the area with a rustic picket fence, meandering brick or stone paths, pergolas to support rambling roses, the use of terracotta pots and statuary throughout, rustic furniture, nesting boxes for birds and a water feature. Most importantly, make sure there is a sitting place — a rustic seat or gazebo — in a tranquil corner to enjoy the heady fragrance of stock, nicotiana, jasmine, and honeysuckle on a summer evening. This style of garden will suit small gardens, older-style houses and rambling villas. Planting a cottage garden is fun.
It boasts classic features such as a vegetable patch, an old apple tree, a potting shed and a pond where the white cat sat.
Gazing out into the romantic jumble of a cottage garden is like stepping into another life. You are swept away with the tumble of beautiful flowering bulbs, climbers, annuals and perennials bursting with color and life. There is nothing formal about this style, and indeed, the color scheme is a jumble of different fragrant flowers, and vibrant hues. English cottage gardens are a sharp contrast to the manicured formal gardens with their strict color schematics and beds laid out precisely with everyone tucked neatly into place. This post may contain affiliate links.
In this guide, we are going to look at 10 ideal plants that you can use to create a whimsical English garden. If you are looking for flowers with some height, delphinium is a plant that can grow to be up to six feet in height, depending on the variety that you plant. You may need to stalk the taller varieties so that they stay upright in the garden.