Southern Living has always appreciated the appeal of a cozy cottage. So when the 2022 Southern Living Idea House in Oriental, North Carolina called for a coastal approach, we partnered with the iconic magazine to create a plant palette that added charm, color, and texture to this waterfront retreat.
Cottage gardens are characterized by their romance, hint of whimsy, and carefree ease – with these dreamy qualities, it’s no wonder they’re one of the hottest landscaping trends of recent years! If you’re looking to add some “cottage cool” to your landscape, take these three lessons from the Southern Living Idea House:
Create a Cozy Sitting Area
Crafting a snug sitting area from an under-used corner of the landscape takes a little imagination and a few great plants. Once you’ve selected your outdoor furnishings, establish a sense of space with a hedge to set the area apart from the rest of the landscape. Not all hedges are sky-high. A low hedge, like the Bayou Bliss Distylium border used in the Southern Living Idea House, lends an element of formal structure to the sitting area. Reaching a maximum height of only 2-3 feet, this compact Distylium allows light and breezes to pass through, while its soft, fine-textured foliage adds a casual, easy air. Artfully placed camellias like the October Magic® Orchid™ Camellia in this landscape add height and beautiful blooms to the space, perfect for entertaining.
Pick Playful Blooms
A cottage garden is a perfect place to infuse whimsical charm. Bursting with a halo of purple-to-white blooms, Indigo Frost™ Agapanthus brought joy and movement to the beds of the coastal cottage Idea House. Agapanthus, sometimes called Lily of the Nile, resembles a Fourth of July sparkler with its long, elegant stems topped with an explosive bundle of blooms. Here, these bold blooms are paired with ‘Spider’s Web’ Fatsia, a rare evergreen with lush green and white leaves that resemble the palm of a hand. From the plants’ vivid green hues to their exciting foliage, the visual impact of this pair is exuberant and joyful. For other whimsical picks, try a delicate groundcover rose like It’s A Breeze® Ivory Blush Rose or a colorful Garden Jewels™ Gerbera Daisy in one of the collection’s many hues.
Go for Grasses
Cottage gardens evoke a feeling of history. Windswept grasses tell the story, adding a sense of romance as they sway in the breeze. Today there are more gorgeous grasses than ever on the market, and they’re just as much at home nestled in a garden bed as they are adding texture to a towering planter. The white-edged Platinum Beauty® Lomandra is perfect for coastal gardens – heat tolerant and able to thrive in challenging areas, its flowing foliage brightens dark corners of the garden. Platinum Beauty was used extensively in the 2022 Southern Living Idea House, from container plantings to ornamental beds. For more cold-tolerant varieties, try EverColor® ‘Everest’ Carex with its distinctive white and green foliage or EverColor® ‘Everillo’ Carex with an exciting electric yellow-green hue. All three types of grasses offer easy low maintenance and evergreen color.
Cottage gardens have never been cooler; with a vast array of plant possibilities and endless inspiration from the 2022 Southern Living Idea House, you can recreate the look in your own backyard!