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Home Garden Styles Types of Garden Styles Creating a Cottage Garden
Creating a Cottage Garden PDF Print E-mail


The Cottage Garden remains a popular form of garden type, offering an atmospheric peacefulness and serenity to any outside space. Its charm comes from its slightly rambling wildness, though of course, as any gardener knows, such a garden is as managed and clipped as any other horticultural space. Quintessentially English, Cottage Gardens originally started as vegetable patches for the working class, with gardeners filling in any empty spaces with flowers. Over time they became much more of a rustic and natural place to go, filled with flowers and helping people to relax from the pressures of the day amongst foliage and fragrant blooms.


Like any garden, planting, along with form and structure, is vital to make a cottage garden work. Whilst a cottage garden look can be achieved by dense planting in every available space, an important eye needs to also be given to the materials and structures. Natural materials should be used at all costs as, staying true to its origins where the working class had to make use of what they had.  Elements such as steel, concrete, or decking look out of place. Instead, pergolas should be wooden, walkways a cheap gravel or brick path, and trellises made from willow if possible. Features and ornaments often work best if they somehow hail back the origins of the garden, and so a pair of boots next to a bench, a small hand fork emerging from the ground, or a rustic wheelbarrow precisely placed often work wonders.


Structure is also vital, with Cottage Gardens needing to draw visitors in around winding paths, into hidden areas, and under bloom festooned arches. Height is an essential part of the cottage garden, with the working class wanting to fill every inch of their space. So using pergolas and trellising is ideal, whilst utilizing a wall space is even better. Paths should wind away out of view so that they draw visitors along to discover what lies ahead, whilst small archways will encourage people to duck through and discover hidden garden niches.


A Cottage Garden’s main planting concept is easy; cram as much in as possible. When space was at a premium, gardeners wanted to fit as many plants in as they could to create an enchanting and flower filled garden. Whilst any plant can be used, and any cottage garden is personalized by the tastes of the gardener, there are key species which are vital for a cottage garden to work. Roses and other climbing species such as clematis and jasmines are perfect for create the Cottage Garden’s backbone. Used over trellising and pergolas, and trained up walls, they are essential for providing the element of height in addition to fantastic blooms throughout the season. A mixture of roses is important, using climbers, standards, and shrub roses throughout borders to add vibrant color and scent. Species of herbs such as lavender, thyme, sage, and chives can be used and will offer a lovely addition to gardeners who like to cook. Meanwhile, ornamental poppies (as shown in the photo) and peonies will provide an important perennial and reoccurring planting to flowerbeds, whilst the inclusion of biennials and short lived perennials such as foxgloves, hollyhocks, wallflowers, and stocks will add that quintessential Cottage Garden feel.

Using natural materials, creating a garden packed with blooms and scents, and making use of every available space will build a fantastic garden. As long as key plants are used, gardeners can be free to fill empty patches with a range of their favorite plants. And as the spring draws out beautiful bloom after beautiful bloom, gardeners can relax and surround themselves in their fantastic Cottage Gardens.

About the Author: Geoff Wakeling is a London gardener, blogger and a guest writer for Brookside Patio Furniture, which offers outdoor wicker furniture