The romantic English cottage garden is the ancestor of American country. Both were born in the spaces around ordinary homes filled with extraordinary flowers. These are not pretentious plantings, but collections of beloved plants grown both for their beauty and practical uses.
Elements of the Cottage Garden
The white picket fenceIn early American gardens, this fence kept children in and farm animals out of the dooryard. Pointed pickets discouraged chickens from roosting on the fence. In Victorian times, many gardeners upgraded from pickets to cast or wrought iron. This makes both fence types suitable for the style.
The arbor gate
Before automobiles, visitors tied their carriage horses at the front gate to the dooryard. The vine or rose shrouded arbor made it more comfortable for the animals to wait in the shade or protected from the rain.
An elegant way to screen a view or offer privacy without sacrificing air movement. For outdoor living, or in the era before air conditioning, this was a common and welcome building material and, today, provides a backdrop for many cottage gardens.
The modest lifestyle of cottage gardeners did not afford luxury items. Inexpensive red clay flowerpots became the standard of the day. Homemade wood window boxes were a popular decoration for simple, functional homes at minimal cost.
Comfortable old-fashioned rocking chairs are always a big part of this style picture. Wicker furniture popular in the 19th century remains as charming today as ever. Tables and chairs come into the garden off the front porch. The picnic or harvest table and accompanying benches remain the most common of all for outdoor seating and dining.
PavingBrick, decomposed granite.
DecorativeAntique wheelbarrow, birdhouses.
Cottage is Simple
The cottage garden tends to have a mix of beautiful bloomers and plants brought in from the wild. Practical herbs for kitchen and medicine chest stand side by side with roses. Traditionally planted by the woman of the house in the convenience of her “dooryard”, these gardens became a casual mix of her favorite flowers.The emphasis is on flowers and diversity, with less interest in layout except to ensure each plant receives its share of light and water.The style is free form and yet the most challenging because of its lack of rules. Cottage garden plants are not rare and exotic. Among them are American natives and ordinary species. Above all, this garden must appeal to you personally, filled with the plants, flowers, scents, and colors you love. It is a garden of the heart, of the hearth and of the home.
Plants for a Cottage Garden
Many old-fashioned flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas, roses, lilacs and trees, such as magnolias. Most flowering perennials and shrubs fit well in this look. Edibles for kitchen gardens: rosemary, sweet bay, citrus, blueberry, figs, grapes, pomegranates.