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Cottage Garden Ideas: A “Garden Paradise”.

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Early “Cottage Garden Ideas”

Cottage gardens began with peasant farmers in England hundreds of years ago. Many hard-working laborers did not have enough land for farming, but needed food to feed their families, and herbs to treat various diseases. So they planted herbs veggies and fruits, intermixed with flowers and colorful shrubs, to provide themselves with vegetables and satisfy their medicinal requirements.

The many flowers and shrubs gave these early cottage gardens a homely ambiance, making a difficult life far more bearable.

Cottage Gardens Today.

Today, cottage gardens have been transformed into the most beautiful, scented, flower-filled settings you would ever dream of. They are jammed full with a profusion of flowers, aromatic roses, lilacs, dianthus and much more. Many homeowners today are interested in installing a bounty of flowers and designs, hoping to create such a perfect haven.

Where Do You Begin?

If you are a beginner gardener who is willing and ready to start a cottage garden, you should know that starting one is pretty easy because their not a lot of formalities to follow. Cottage gardens are free flowering, romantic and sensual, fun vegetation, that you can fill with what ever pastel and, or bright hues you may wish. You are able to construct the kind of garden that you will love with very little rules, apart from filling it to the brim with colorful, often scented, flowers, plants, shrubs and herbs.

The only real consideration for the beginner gardener that you don’t make the garden too big to handle. Any garden style will need weeding and cottage gardens are no option.

Generally, cottage garden designs are suited to a sunny environment, as opposed to shady spots. This not only helps to create their beauty through flower development, but also favors biodiversity which helps the garden to become less likely to suffer from pest and diseases.

Most of the flower species used are annual varieties. Because of this, many fabulous gardens simply re-seed themselves each year. Should you find that in any particular year you have a shortage of flowering plants, simply buy some relevant seed types and throw them around the areas you wish to have repopulated.

If you are after an instant color hit, than simply buy a number of punnets of seedlings of the species you like the most and fill them where you find the gaps need filling.

Cottage Garden Ideas.

Usually, the traditional cottage garden surrounds your house from front to the back, spreading over the walls, fencing and onto the pathways. The informality of this style of gardening allows you to have more time to enjoy the beauty and sensuality of your plants.

1). Plants To Choose.

For the most part, the various plants you decide to place in your cottage garden should be those with vibrant colors and strong fragrance. These nectar-rich, scented plants attract bees and butterflies which can often be seen fluttering or busily working throughout this wonderful environment, adding even more beauty to the complete setting.

Rambling or climbing plants, such as the English rose are perfect for cascading over fences, walls and arbors. Scented, colorful bush roses are ideal to place as back drops to the many annual flowers. These roses usually grow with more vigor and height than the modern hybrid varieties, and are ideal for the cottage garden look.

Other common plants for cottage gardens include.

Lavender: They are beautiful decorative herbs that have fragrant summer blooms. You can fill them in full sun and well-drained soil. Traditionally they were predominately available in various purple tones, but today you can purchase them in many other colors, including pink and white.

They prefer a loamy, humus rich, well drained soil with a high Ph value, usually between 6 to 8. They need a sunny spot in the garden and will thrive for many years when planted in the correct conditions.

– Foxgloves: This is a favorite in many cottage garden. The fill produces an array of beautiful bell-shaped flowers during early summer. They attract all kinds of bees and butterflies, and perform very well in moist well-drained soils. However, they do require some from wind.

– Hollyhock: They produce funnel-shaped flowers that are come a variety of colors to suit any planting scheme.

– Wisteria: wisteria is a beautiful fill for archways and pergolas with an elegant draping feature ideal for a cottage garden. The fill can grow very large over time and should be restricted to bigger cottage gardens, preferably covering the tops of large, long arbors that lead the garden visitors to the home. Their beautiful purple, white or mauve flower spikes will cascade down from the top of the arbor or pergola in a dripping fashion.

– Sweet pea: This is a must have, beautiful annual fill for the cottage garden. Sweet pea definitely are a required fill that adds additional color and fragrance to the area as they either scramble up close taller plants for support, or a planted in a sunny position near a trellis or all where they can be supported. Many of the old world varieties come heavily perfumed and in a huge amount of colors.

-other Varieties: There many other plants that are ideal for cottage gardening, such as peonies, lupines, geranium, daisy, cleomie, campanula, aquilegia and dianthus. Bulbs such as Daffodils, tulips, freesia and snow drops.

The back half of the garden can be filled with flowering shrubs or Saliva, or other perennial flowering plants.

Always make sure each fill is placed close to its neighbors, leaving no gaps in your beds. The whole idea of a cottage garden is that it be filled to the brim with color, variety and scents.

2). Pathways

The traditional cottage gardens are today constructed utilizing curving, stone or gravel pathways, as a means to divide various borders. You can use zigzag or meandering pathways in favor of straight edges. Using stepping stones on trails joining different areas of your garden is an ideal way to add structure to the cottage setting.

Traversing these paths, the visitors to these gardens are taken on short, colorful, fragrant adventures. Through archways, past wonderful ornaments, and on towards a restful, peaceful area of the garden. An area where perhaps they can sit down on an old style garden bench and enjoy the surrounding sights.

3).Fencing , Archways and Arbors:

Since cottage gardens are usually small, the style of fence is a very crucial thing to consider. If your wall is permanent, you can paint them a washed out white and add some trellis against them to support heritage climbing roses. All this will add a romantic feel to your cottage garden.

Archways and pergolas are the ideal features to add to any cottage garden. Arches lead one to new areas of the garden. They can be used to create garden rooms or lead to other highlights. Many are covered with climbing plants such as Jasmine, clematis or more roses.

Arbors and archways can also be placed at the entrance to the property at the front gate. The path will lead from this area down through the garden and eventually to the front door. There are many styles of arbors and arches that can be designed to add a pleasant start to the garden stroll.

In a future article I will be showing the beginner gardener how to design and build some of these incredible cottage garden entrances.

4). Rustic features:

There are many rustic features you can add to the garden. Some of these include using old bicycles, wheelbarrows, wagons and also watering cans. Small baskets filled with pansies or violas can be placed hanging from the bicycles handlebars. The Wheelbarrows can be filled with colorful petunia’s that cascade over the edges. Watering cans can be hung from a non usable tap that is positioned on and old fence pole.

The ideas for rustic items to add are endless. My wife has those mentioned, and also utilizes old metal bed heads that she has flowering vines growing over.

5). Garden Ornaments:

Garden ornaments come in all shapes and sizes today. These can be items welded together from scrap metal pieces and painted to resemble birds or animals. They can also be articles such as green frogs, lizards or even gnomes, placed in strategic positions throughout the garden.

I have seen lots of gardens with water features, stone benches, small statues of boys and girls and bird features. The vast amount of different features that can be added to a cottage garden are only limited by one’s imagination.

More “Cottage Garden Ideas” To Come.

So I’ve given you some ideas centered around what plants and ornaments to place in a cottage garden, as well as whether to use Arches, Arbors, Walls and trellises. You have learned that garden paths lead to adventure in these gardens. That plants should bring color, scents and ambiance to the delightful patch.

There is nothing so magnificent as a cottage garden in full bloom. The insects, birds and wildlife will love and enjoy it, so will you. Why not make a start on your ‘Garden Paradise’ today.

==>If you enjoyed this article you might like to click here<==

Happy Gardening. Jim

Should you like to make any comments you will find a box below. Or for personal comments, check out the “Contact Jim” button at the top of the website.

Jim Kulk

27 Comments

  1. Thank-you so much for sharing your knowledge. Need all the help I can get in this area lol.

  2. Thanks for sharing this great information. Even though I don’t have a cottage, I love planting flowers and vegetables in pots. I keep them on the patio of my apartment. I will certainly follow the suggestions for planting lavender. It is one of my favorite. However, it never survives whenever I plant it. I think it could very well be the soil, so I will make the adjustment and try planting it again. Can you suggest a good time to plant lavender?

    • Hi Carol. It’s best to plant lavender during the fall, however, planting time will depend on the species you buy, plus the climatic zone you live in. Make sure your plant doesn’t get to wet, especially during the cooler months. Jim

  3. Great ideas! I love the beautiful pictures. They make me want to plant a cottage garden right now. One problem is that I am not a homeowner 🙁 maybe someday.

    • Hi Mariah. Have you had a look at out container gardening blog? Even the smallest of areas can support some sort of garden. All the best. Jim

  4. This is beautiful! I will definitely be back to retrieve some great tips from your site!

  5. Who doesn’t love a cottage garden? My mom had a huge one before I left home. She had roses and daisies and bachelor’s buttons in it, but also a ton of different herbs. We never lacked for herbal remedies. I’d love to do a smaller version on my patio, but it would need to be in containers. Which herbs do you recommend for pots?

    • Hi Genesis. Yes, cottage gardens are very enjoyable, not only to work in but to play in as well. Most of the common herbs such as Thyme, Basil, Sage, Parsley and rosemary, do well in containers. Just make sure you use a good quality potting mix, keep the plants moist, but not wet and feed them regularly. Jim

  6. I like your gardening ideas. Your first photo shows how lush a garden can be, if one does it right. The fence to me is a great accent; the gate makes the garden inviting. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a wild garden, one that create a habitat for small local birds and fauna. I haven’t gotten very far down that road, yet, but you’ve kind of re-inspired me. Thanks for your post. I look forward to seeing more. 

  7. I didn’t know it was so easy to start a cottage garden. I’ve heard about it and I was always a bit intimitated by how much work and maintenance it seem to take.

    I do like ordaments as these can really create a nice atmosfere and are a great touch in the garden.

    Guess I don’t have any excuse anymore. The wife will be happy 😉

  8. Jim,

    Beautiful for any beginner to start a flower garden love the idea of a cottage garden.  I have planted many flowers for my home to look nice and the smells in the spring with the lilacs was some of my best memories of them.

    With all of the ideas you have here makes me feel like starting to plant again always enjoyed the gardening part and that includes the vegetables and different herbs.  Nothing like fresh vegetables and herbs from your labors to cook with and give to neighbors, family, and friends.  A gracious reward for your labor of love that you put in.

    Looking forward to more gardening tips and interesting facts that go along with them.

    Susan 

  9. I will pass this information on to my nan, she loves looking after her beautiful garden so she will be pleased to hear this information. Where would you suggest the best place would be for her tulips? She has red and pink ones ready to plant but she’s not sure where or what time of the year she should get them in. 

  10. Hi Jim, thanks for this helpful article. I’m definitely a beginning gardener, and have been looking for something easy-ish, and without too much structure. I think this Cottage Garden style might be my answer. Plus I could include a herb garden and some veges, just like the original cottage gardens:) I really like that:) Wow, it just seems so easy! Throwing seeds around- I love it! Thanks so much for the great ideas- I’ll be back for more:)

    Any tips for a West Australian garden?

    Erica

  11. Hey Jim,

    great article on cottage gardens.  Gardening is my hobby, but I am not very good at designing, and I also do more garden vegetables than flowers, bushes, and so on.  However, I am moving next month into my recently built house and I plan on making a beautiful garden there in the coming years, once I am closer to debt-free.  

    I like that you stated that cottage gardens are everything else than the perfect garden, they are just random plants put together which in turn makes a beautiful garden. I have always like cottage gardens, but need to look a little more into it, especially now that I am making plans for my backyard.

    Oscar

  12. Thanks for the wonderful ideas. 

    I admire houses with gardens full of flowers, shrubs. And makes me want to try it, but I do believe that it takes a lot of maintenance, and when I think of it I just back out.

    But maybe, like what you said, starting out in small space will be great to begin with.

    Thank you again for sharing.

  13. Great post, we have a new house with a big garden now, we were kind of wondering how to do the things.

    I personally love lavender, and you gave me some great ideas!

    To bad that still our garden is big, I don’t have a space for an archway since it is occupied by a stone wall.

    Or you have an idea how to fix that?

  14. Thank you for this article, I’d never heard the term “cottage garden” but I love it!  It’s so natural and organic and I love the bit of history about where it came from.  Thanks for all the good information and the great ideas!  After reading your article I feel like this is really something that I could do!

    Thanks!

  15. Dear Jim Kulk,

    Cottage Garden is always a dream for me and my wife, we are yet to accomplish it. Thanks a lot for sharing this post with great ideas and advice.

    Where Do You Begin? Topic is very helpful and I got new insights. Don’t make it too big, hit me on my head because we were thinking of make it big. Thanks for the valuable guidance.

    Cottage Garden Ideas – Is full of valuable information and I enjoyed your post.

    You covered a lot of valuable information on your post. Wishing you all success!

    Paul

  16. Hey Jim!Right out the gate you piqued my interest because I had no idea that cottage gardens were started in England back in the day out of necessity and not just for food but to help treat diseases. Very cool. 

    It’s good to know that starting one is not difficult to do and there’s only a few guidelines. As someone who recently made the plunge to organic foods, I am more interested in starting my own garden or take the first steps of learning about it. I personally would like to keep my first garden small by planting lavender for their soothing properties and sweet pea for the added fragrance and color. I’d also like the idea of stepping stones to symbolize the essence of life and simplicity. I’m glad to read that you can repurpose scrap metal and old belongings like bikes, some things that usually seem useless, to make garden ornaments and rustic features. That seems like a good way to stay natural and efficient. Thanks for all the great information!

  17. Hi Jim,

    Wow, this makes me want to go out and plant my cottage garden today, lol! Only bad thing is it’s almost winter here, so I suppose I’ll have to wait til next spring to start one at our new home.

    I’ve always wanted a beautiful garden with flowers of all colors and yeah, some vegetables would be good too, but where we currently live it’s just too hard to keep one…the neighbor kids won’t leave things alone! So very frustrating, but that’s a long story, lol!

    I love your suggestions here, I did try planting foxgloves and hollyhock here before, but they didn’t seem to do too well. I’d thought they were perennials, but maybe I remember wrong. Anyways, do you suggest planting these in an area that is in full sun or partially shady? I’m wondering if I planted them in too shady an area, since I didn’t have any other spot to put them in here. The sun only fully reached them in the late afternoon.

    We live in a colder area, pretty close to Canada actually, so I was wondering if there are certain kinds of flowers that you know of that would thrive better and bloom for a longer period of time during our rather short summers here?

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to reading more here! I can’t wait to read your blog on garden design and building a cottage garden entrance…I absolutely need one of those in my future garden!

    Thanks for sharing your info here, Jim. I found this very helpful and inspiring to read, keep up the awesome job!

    Best wishes ~Sherry

  18. Hello Jim, how are you?

    Please tell me those pictures came from your Cottage Gardem. They are amazing pictures.

    What a good information about the Cottage Gardem, you are right it is a Garden Paradise.

    All the plants, flowers, herbs,ornaments (love them), rustic fictures (don’t care very much), all this together making evething look much better.

    Read a book in a Cottage Garden is the best experience and sensation of Haven.

    I also, don’t have one Cottage Garden, but I have a neighbor tha’s has. I like to go there just to see the bloomed of the flowers and variety of  the plants. Is amazing!

    I loved your Article and looking for to see more,

    All success to you my dear,

    Telma

  19. Hi Jim, a delightful and inspiring article. Magical! I love cottage gardens and combine fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers and plants to provide for my needs. Very much like the early cottage gardens you speak of.there a some great ideas in your post regarding design, thank you. I particularly like some of the ideas around water features and I will be dropping by for more. Cass

    • Hi Cass. Cottage gardens would have to be the most interesting and beautiful of all the gardening styles. Thank you for reading my blog, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Jim

  20. I love cottage gardens. I have never had a true cottage garden but I have had many types of gardens and always love bright, fragrant flowers, bees buzzing around, herbs and foliage of every shape and shade. I have had many types of herbs but lemon thyme is my favorite. I love foxglove, sweet peas, delphiniums, roses. 

    I have enjoyed growing plants in gardens, greenhouses, in pots on a large deck and everything in between. All of this is here in Alaska. Where I grew up in a rural part of the state we grew prize winning vegetables, herbs and flowers which we entered in the state fair.  I can’t wait to have my own house and have a cottage garden someday!! I will fill it with herbs and flowers. 

    • Hi Swangirl. It’s hard to fathom you having vegetables and gardens in Alaska. I suppose those of us that live in the sub tropics can only see snow when Alaska is mentioned. Obviously there is a lot more to your beautiful state. Jim

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