A Gardener’s Guide to a Cottage Garden

March 21, 2010 by Mario  
Filed under 20

Many people dream of a cottage in the country, with roses growing around the door and a feast of color in the garden in front. Well, the good news is that you do not need to move to the country or even have a cottage to create such an attractive garden.

What is a cottage garden? It is very difficult to define a cottage garden. We all know one when we see one, but describing them is not the easiest thing to do. Generally, they have an old fashioned look. The real skill in creating a successful cottage garden is to design the borders to look as if they have not been designed at all. There is not much in the way of hard landscaping, just flowerbeds, and these are full to the brim with colorful plants.

Traditionally, the plants would be tough, hardy ones that needed little care. Most would be plants that had been grown for generations, such as primulas, hollyhocks, foxgloves and aquilegias. Today many hybrids are considered suitable, especially if they are bright and brash.

So, what are cottage plants? Plants for a cottage garden tend, as has already been noted, to be old fashioned plants that have been around for years. Many are annuals and biennials that self sow, so the gardener does not have to think about new plants, they just appear.

One reason for using these old favorites, apart from their appearance is that they are usually less prone to pests and diseases and hardier than many modern cultivars (which is why they have been around for a long time). In other words, they need little looking after. Unfortunately, some of these traditional plants, such as lupins and hollyhocks, have now developed diseases and pests, which makes them less reliable than they once were, though they can still be grown to great effect as short lived plants.

Here are some examples of plants that can be used for a cottage garden. There are Alcea Rosea, Anemone x hybrida, Aquilegia vulgaris, Aster novae-angliae, Lupinus, Viola, Primula, Pulmonaria, Lilium candidum and Geum rivale.