Cottage garden landscape designs

Originally, cottage gardens were a necessary way of cramming a lot of edible plants into a small growing area. Without their cottage gardens, many poor workers of the 18th and 19th Centuries may well have faced starvation.

Poverty did not mean that the original cottage gardeners lacked pride, and so soon the idea of planting for decoration was combined with the core task of providing food to create the romantic cottage garden we know and love today.

The key point about cottage gardens is that they allow you to squeeze lots of plants into a small space.

Planning a Cottage Garden

When planning your own cottage garden, think about the key themes of rustic living, domesticity and comfort. You will want the cottage garden to blend in to your cottage. Any hard landscaping (paths, walls etc) should therefore be in materials that appear to be roughly the same age as the house appears. A crumbling victorian redbrick path is going to look as out of place against a new scandinavian style home as much as a gleaming tarmac path would appear if placed round the back of Anne Hathaway's cottage in Stratford Upon Avon.

But if your 'cottage' is a brand new building, this doesn't mean you cannot have a cottage garden. it just means you should harmonise the hard landscaping with the spirit and materials of your house.

Popular materials for paths include:

Now just as with the hard landscaping, the planting should also reflect the spirit of the house it is sitting next to. In general, the smaller and older the garden, the less you should choose dynamic trendy planting. A cottage garden should look its age, so if yours is to appear about 100 years old, you want some seriously old fashioned colours. Look for inspiration in books of Victorian fashion, and you will soon see the colours and styles (and flower varieties) that would have been popular at the time.

Plants for the Cottage Garden

For that traditional look, here is a list of plants that look great in a standard cottage garden:

When we start thinking about cottage gardens we tend to forget about any season other than the glorious days of high summer when the garden is at its productive best. This is a serious mistake since we want our cottage gardens to look good all year round. One easy trick which gardeners have been using for centuries is the boxing off of sections with mini-hedges. A double diamond pattern of foot high privet hedge bordering the planting areas looks great even in the deepest depths of winter.