Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 4

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) for flower borders

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Annuals and Self-Seeders

Cottage gardens are all about abundance of planting and random drifts of colour. Ground covering plants weave through the planting, spilling over border edges and stitching everything together. In the same way, scattering the seeds of annuals amongst the permanent planting will plug any gaps and contribute to the random charm of the design.

Annuals are plants which germinate, flower and set seed all in one year. They die after flowering, but many will helpfully self-seed leaving a...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 3

Rosa Generous Gardener perfect for cottage garden planting plan

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1 | Part 2

Vertical Accents

By their very nature, cottage gardens are charmingly informal and unstructured. A sea of colourful flowers all swaying at the same height could end up lacking interest and a focal point, but, fortunately, several of the classic cottage garden plants naturally provide striking architectural structure, in the form of tall spires of flowers.

Hollyhocks, delphiniums and foxgloves all create vertical accents amongst low-growing flowers.

Delphiniums are stately perennials in ravishing shades of blues, pinks and mauves, as well as white. They are...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 2

Coreopsis verticillata Grandiflora

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1

The Daisies

Traditional cottage garden favourites are daisy-style flowers, such as asters, fleabane daisies, coreopsis and echinacea.

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Grandiflora’ has cheery yellow, starry flowerheads, carried in abundance on wiry stems in summer.

Asters come in shades of white, pink, purple and blue. I love Aster pyrenaeus ‘Lutetia’, for its starry flowerheads in palest lilac, with yellow centres. It has a long flowering season from mid-summer to mid-autumn and is completely resistant to powdery mildew – a disease which plagues many asters.

Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican Fleabane) is...

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Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1

Exuberant planting in a cottage style landscape design

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Planting will be exuberant, with self-seeding annuals and low-maintenance perennials packed in together and spilling over border edges. Climbers scramble over fences, garden gates and trees.

Historically, gardens for pleasure were the preserve of the wealthy. Cottage gardens were for the poorer levels of society and were purely functional. The first cottage gardens met the needs of early tenant farmers, by providing the vegetables, herbs and fruit which formed the mainstay of their diet.

Vegetables included garlic, onions, cabbages and beans. A fruit tree here and there offered shade, as well as its crops of...

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Choosing a Garden Style

Different garden styles evoke different feelings and emotions. While you may appreciate or even admire many gardens you visit or see photographs of, they will not necessarily be the blueprint you want to follow for your own garden borders. But if you’re planning to spend some time changing your garden either piecemeal or in one fell swoop, it’s useful to think about the atmosphere you would like to create in your own garden. It’s a personal thing – reflecting your own taste and individuality.

What’s your style?

Read through the style guides below. One or more of these will instinctively feel right for you – summing up how you feel about your garden (or the garden you are planning to create)....

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