By Kim Toscano
Cottage gardens are eclectic by nature. Bursting with blooms in a variety of tones, textures, and shapes, the cottage garden is naturalistic, sensual, and inviting. Numerous variations of the traditional style exist, incorporating regionally-adapted plants and the gardener’s personality into the design.
While we often associate free-seeding annuals with cottage garden plantings, perennials make up the largest group of traditional cottage garden flowers. This cottage-style planting features perennials in all their glory, from the showy Bells of Fire™ Tecoma to the fiery blooms of Lime Sizzler™ Firebush.
A Profusion of Flowers
The secret to any cottage-style garden is diversity. Blooms and foliage bring a range of colors and textures to this planting. Clarity Blue™ Dianella and Evergreen Stella™ Daylily add movement to the planting with flowing, grass-like leaf blades. Spikes of Love and Wishes™ Salvia contrast the mounding blooms of Firestorm® Lantana. Look for plants with a long bloom season to keep the garden shining all summer long.
Mix It Up
Traditional cottage gardens incorporate a mixture of fruit, herbs, and flowers among rambling vines and flowering shrubs – the original edible landscapes. Experiment by adding your favorite edibles to the garden. Flowing canes of ‘Navaho’ Thornless Blackberry and tufts of Phenomenal™ Lavender will look right at home in a cottage garden. And don’t forget cut flowers – cottage gardens always include a few florist favorites. We’ve tucked masses of White Garden Jewels™ Gerbera Daisy into the garden to complement the fragrant blooms of Evergreen Stella™ Daylily.
Color is another place where cottage gardens seem to bend the rules. You often find clashing colors brushing shoulders, competing for attention. When planting a cottage garden, think about how individual plants interact with one another. Focus on small groupings within the larger planting to create harmonious color combinations or vivid contrast. Also look at how plants combine structurally. Stems twining around one another and airy blooms weaving among upright forms add to the whimsy and carefree nature of the garden.
Pack It In
Plants are packed together tightly in a cottage garden. Using every square inch of soil adds to the informal appearance of the garden and the feeling they are overflowing with blooms. Dense planting also helps combat weeds, which is likely where this practice originated.
Download this Perennial Island Garden Plan PDF