Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 2

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

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.

The Daisies

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

Coreopsis verticillata Grandiflora
Coreopsis verticillata Grandiflora

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

Aster pyrenaeus Lutetia cottage garden late summer flower
Aster pyrenaeus Lutetia

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 for Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner blog
Erigeron karvinskianus

Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican Fleabane) is a delightful long-flowering perennial, spreading by rhizomes to form a carpet of daisy-like flowers. Little white flowers with yellow centres appear throughout the summer and into autumn, becoming deep pink as they age.

Echinacea purpurea Weatherstaff PlantingPlan cottage garden plant
Echinacea purpurea

A beautiful, late summer-flowering perennial, Echinacea purpurea has slightly reflexed, light purple rays, carried on upright stems from mid-summer to early autumn. The flowers have prominent coppery-brown, cone-shaped discs.

Down at Ground Level

Cottage gardens are recognised by the abundance of their planting. Filling the borders to overflowing has the added advantage of leaving no bare soil for weeds to germinate.

That’s where the little ground covering plants come in. They do a brilliant job of plugging the gaps in borders and knitting everything together. Allowing them to spill gently over border edges, wind around paths or cascade over low walls creates a natural, informal effect.

Campanula poscharskyana for ground cover Weatherstaff Planting Plan
Campanula poscharskyana

Campanula poscharskyana, the trailing bellflower, is a fantastic perennial for softening the edges of paths and borders. Its purple-blue, star-shaped flowers, keep appearing from spring right through to early autumn. Read more about it here

Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow ground cover for border design in shade
Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow

Ajuga (Bugle) is another useful, creeping perennial, spreading by means of rhizomes to form a mat of attractive, evergreen foliage. Short spikes of deep blue flowers appear in late spring and early summer. Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ has variegated leaves – silvery-green, with shades of pink, red and cream. The leaves of ‘Variegata’ are grey-green, with cream borders. For white flowers, try Ajuga reptans f. albiflora ‘Alba’.

Myosotis-sylvatica, the little forget-me-not
Myosotis sylvatica

The woodland forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) has clusters of blue flowers, with tiny yellow eyes. The flowers are carried above tufts of grey-green leaves in spring and early summer, and mingle happily with spring flowering bulbs. Though short-lived, the plants will self-seed freely, to spread through borders and cover patches of bare soil.

Viola odorata Queen Charlotte spring planting idea
Viola odorata Queen Charlotte

You will have to crouch down low to catch the scent of the Viola odorata. Pretty, very fragrant violet-blue or white flowers are produced in late winter and early spring. It spreads gently to form a clump of glossy, heart-shaped, bright green foliage. Perfect ground cover for a shady spot.

Lysimachia nummularia Aurea - landscaping design idea for cottage garden ground cover
Lysimachia nummularia Aurea

Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, known as Golden Creeping Jenny, provides useful groundcover, especially between paving stones or on gravel. An evergreen carpeting perennial, it forms a low mat of attractive golden-yellow foliage, with bright yellow, cup-shaped flowers in summer.

Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner Landscape Design Software

Need a Cottage Garden Planting Plan?

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner makes it easy for you to create a cottage garden style border.

The interactive gardening software designs all-season planting plans, tailored to your garden’s soil and light conditions.

Select ‘Cottage Garden’ for your choice of style and pick your preferred colour scheme. Enter your garden’s climate, soil and light conditions. The PlantingPlanner will draw up a planting plan with flowers, herbs and shrubs, which are perfect for creating your very own cottage garden.

You can tweak and modify your generated plan, by excluding any plants you don’t like and substituting them with your favourites. The PlantingPlanner will tell you if your choices are suitable for your location.

If you want to grow vegetables as well as ornamental plants, you could use a collection of pots and containers to cram into gaps around your garden. Try here for inspiration.

Cottage Gardens Part 2 - from Weatherstaff garden design software
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The Weatherstaff Team