How To Grow a Cottage Garden
Cottage gardens are traditionally thought of as English gardens, lushly planted with colorful jumbles of flowers and shrubs, and grown in areas with mild winters and cool summers. Unfortunately, most places in the U.S. outside of the Pacific Northwest do not have the proper climate for an English garden.
Luckily, American cottage gardens are just as beautiful and better adapted to our climate. Still based on the lovely informal array of flowers and shrubs, they are perfectly suited to most informal suburban homes or country lots without the need for a huge English manor garden space that few of us have.
American cottage gardening encompasses using more drought tolerant and native plants, plants that are hardier for cold winter climates, and plants that tolerate and even thrive on the sunshine. The style tends to look natural and free flowing without any plan or design, however does indeed usually have a backbone plan to bring out the best in plant color combinations and textures that compliment each other. That being said, cottage gardens are also places where self seeded plants may be allowed to pop up as they will, and the garden is always a surprise from one season to the next! Flowers, shrubs, vegetables and herbs may share the same beds, and roses abound! Vines soften fences and walls, and furniture and decor is simple and comfortable.
Some easy to grow, drought and heat resistant plants perfect for the American cottage garden include yarrow, valerian, Russian sage, coneflower, coreopsis, scabiosa, joe pye weed, daffodils, sunflower, butterfly bush and roses. Many herbs also love heat. Sage, thyme, purple basil, golden oregano and lavender all thrive in my high desert garden. Annuals can be seeded directly in the garden and many self sow for next year as well. Good cottage gardens choices include cosmos, annual sunflower, cleome, alyssum and poppies.
Cottage gardens are magical places, full of charm, whimsy and surprises, and a perfect place to let your creativity in the garden shine and grow. Don’t forget to add a meandering path, a rustic or painted arbor, and a picket fence here or there.
My own garden here at The Garden Glove is a cottage garden style, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. See photos and read articles on cottage style gardens at our website below.
If you’re looking for a laid back style, beautiful easy care flowers, and a charming feel for your home and garden, cottage style is for you.