Despite the name, you don’t actually need a cottage to create this beautiful garden style. It’s all about being carefree with your planting; creating mixed beds by entwining bulbs, shrubs and perennials. Cottage gardens are rule-breakers when it comes to traditional garden design, but it’s a brilliant way to make the most out of a small garden.
Traditional or ‘authentic’ cottage garden plants don’t have to be the only option when designing; a cottage garden can be easily adapted to fit with a modern lifestyle.
Start by ‘hard landscaping’ your garden. Create beds and paths; add benches and any other larger features. Then add trees, shrubs and perennials, leaving the fine detail until last. Cottage gardens can often look slightly over-crowded so it’s important to create a line for the eye to follow.
The easiest way to do with is to add a winding path through your garden. Let plants cascade over your path a little to keep that cottage look. Benches allow you to sit back and appreciate your garden. Add containers close to your garden bench so you can enjoy the scent of blooming flowers.
Beds containing rows of flowers are often too formal, so think about planting drifts of flowers instead. Drifts are natural-looking beds, great for hiding the uneven ground. The best way to create drifts in a smaller garden is to plant your tallest plants at the back and the smallest at the front, this way you get to see everything in your garden.
Geraniums and Antirrhinums are ideal for ground covers underneath larger plants like Sweet William, Dianthus or Foxglove. Try to encourage wildlife into your garden using Buddleia or Daisies, Butterflies and Bees will swarm to feed on these nectar-rich plants.
Climbing plants are ideal for a cottage garden. Several different climbers can share the same support, it’s a brilliant way to save space and you will enjoy the mixture of shape, scent and colour. Roses will add romance to your cottage garden while covering any unsightly walls or fences.
Make your garden more sustainable and give it extra character by using recycled objects. Old chimneys will give a rustic feel when used as flower containers and old stones are brilliant for creating raised flower beds.
You can even include fruit, vegetables and herbs in your cottage garden. Herbs will grow easily in containers and require very little care. Lavender looks stunning in patio pots and Oregano is brilliant for growing in windowsill containers. Herbs are at their best in mid-summer, so it is a good idea to plant annuals alongside them.
Imagine the delight of picking your own fruit, fresh from the tree in your garden. Fruit trees are a brilliant alternative to normal trees; they are just as beautiful and will produce an abundance of fruit year after year. Growing your own fruit is also extremely beneficial for the environment; fruit filters the air conditions of the soil and attracts pollinators into your garden. Vegetables can be grown anywhere, from small pots to large beds. It’s a healthy, fun hobby and with such a wide range of fruit and vegetable plants available, you will easily find something to suit your cottage garden.