Quaint cottages, ambling roses, fluffy white ducks wandering through the garden…the “cottagecore” trend in design is making a slow life look good! If this aesthetic appeals to your inner romantic, know that you don’t have to live in the English countryside to make it a reality. Softly colored flowers that bloom for months on end can carry you away to the outskirts of Oakamoor despite being just blocks from the local Starbucks. The right flowers and shrubs, artfully arranged in your garden, will infuse your porch or property with a cottagecore aesthetic.
Start with Dreamy Blooms
Flowers are one of the first images a cottage-core garden evokes. But which blooms are best for establishing the aesthetic in your garden? We suggest soft, ruffled blooms with an ambling or loose growth habit. These can be layered to create a lush color palette that seems to burst with blooms at every turn.
With its dainty, dark-red double blooms, It’s a Breeze Red turns a garden’s “cottage-core” vibe up to 11. Numbering up to 30 flowers per stem, this rose is a floral powerhouse from spring through fall. And at just 2.5 ft. tall, It’s a Breeze Red shows any gardener that growing roses as groundcovers is simply “a breeze!” USDA Hardiness Zones 4a-11b.
Make a cottage moment last all summer by planting masses of White Wedding hydrangeas. Sturdy stems support drifts of billowy white blooms so large you could almost imagine laying across them for an afternoon nap. The 4-6’ tall shrub gives structure to foliage-forward specimens planted nearby. USDA Hardiness Zones 4a-9b.
Fragrance to Fall in Love With
The rich, earthy aroma of a garden well-tended is central to a cottage-core lifestyle. It becomes all the more magical when sweet, floral fragrances are added to your garden through beautiful blooms. The following fragrant flowers are transported outdoors, and make for stunning cut flowers as well:
Soft colors, classic looks, and a fragrance that recalls the countryside—Phenomenal Lavender checks all the boxes of a definitive cottage garden. This heat- and humidity-tolerant variety creates a 2’ tall mound that is covered with blue-purple blooms from spring through summer. Best of all, you can keep its memory vividly in mind as cut flowers and dried sachets. USDA Hardiness Zones 5a-9b.
The scent of Jubilation™ Gardenia alone is enough to whisk one away to a cottage along the River Trent. Unlike other gardenias, Jubilation grows in a compact habit, just 3-4’ high and wide. Its neat form makes it perfect for patio containers or as a specimen plant within a garden bed, and can also make a heavenly statement planted in numbers and used as a low hedge. USDA Hardiness Zones 7a-10b.
Setting the Scene with Shrubs
Whether they’re dusted in fairy-like flowers or showing off with stunning foliage, these shrubs play an important role in the cottage-core landscape, providing year-round color and structure to your garden.
Start your spring garden in a burst of fringelike floral fireworks with Emerald Snow Loropetalum, a semi-dwarf variety that grows just 4-6’ high. After the springtime display of pure-white blooms, its dense, glossy-green foliage is tinged with lime as new growth emerges. You’ll find Emerald Snow to be a highlight in any full or part sun spot. USDA Hardiness Zones 7a-10b.
Creamy colors of ivory and green come together in the form of Miss Lemon Abelia. Its near-perfect sphere tops out at 3’ tall by 4’ wide and is aglow with light pink flowers for much of the summer and fall. This evergreen keeps color alive in your winter landscape. USDA Hardiness Zones 6a-9b.
Every delicate floral delight needs a bold backdrop that allows it to shine brightly. That’s exactly the role Yewtopia plum yew plays in the garden. This heat-tolerant, drought-resistant shade-loving item matures to 3-4’ high and wide, its forest-green glow allowing all around it to sparkle even more brightly. This evergreen gives the garden its best even in the depths of winter. USDA Hardiness Zones 6a-10b.
Here’s more drama, but in a brighter direction. This rounded, mounded gold-toned holly will brighten your foundation plantings, perk up your rock gardens, and will anchor your pastel-hued annuals. Its contrast with other evergreens makes it a swell specimen plant, too. USDA Hardiness Zones 6a-9b.
These are just a few of the many Southern Living Plant Collection varieties that can make you wistful for a country cottage, with no bubbling brook needed. Whether they’re offering airy blossoms or the soothing support of shrubs, these items will set the garden mood to heavenly perfection.