Cottage garden style

A country cottage garden is charming, romantic and easy to create wherever you live, with the right choice of plants, garden furniture and ornamental features.

A country cottage surrounded by pretty flowers is many people’s dream home, hut even if you live in town it’s easy to create a cottage-style garden.

Choose traditional garden flowers such as hollyhocks, delphiniums, peonies, lupins, lavender, honeysuckle, pot marigolds, love-in-a-mist, poppies, pansies and old-fashioned roses; and paving, fencing and walling in keeping with the old-fashioned mood.

Some cottage gardens have neat rectangular beds and closely mown lawns, and traditionally include tidy rows of vegetables, such as lettuce, runner beans and carrots, and fruit trees such as apple, pear, quince or Victoria plum.

To most people, however, a true cottage garden is slightly overgrown, with plants just on the verge of taking over, and brick, stone or gravel paths wending their way through this pleasant near-chaos.

What makes the style? This traditional style of garden combines the practical and ornamental, with fruit trees and bushes, vegetables and herbs mingling with purely decorative plants.

'Heart Attack' flower cluster closeup

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The emphasis is on the old-fashioned rather than the new, and on economy and improvising. This ranges from re-using an old wheelbarrow, sink or bucket as a planting container for colourful annuals to making rustic furniture and arches out of local wood.

Extra plants for overflowing borders can be obtained by exchanging cuttings or seeds with neighbours and friends.

Luckily, several manufacturers offer high-quality reproduction garden accessories such as reconstituted stone paving slabs, bird-baths and sundials, with all the charm of the real thing at a frac- tion of the cost of the original. And finally, there are the inexpensive items such as terracotta flowerpots, old-fashioned trugs or watering cans that can provide the perfect finishing touch.

The following guidelines will help you to choose the right ingredients for a cottage garden style -how you put them together will give your garden its uniquely personal character.

Cottage garden plants

Cottage favourites include a wide range of easy-to-grow annuals, biennials, perennials, bulbs and shrubs. Many are wildflowers or herbs grown for their fragrance, culinary or medicinal value.

Exotics such as Madonna lily and camellia originally came from the gardens of the grand houses where the cottagers worked.

For an authentic look, avoid modern varieties, especially those with extra-large flowers. Choose fragrant flowers or aromatic leaves such as lavender; many attract butterflies and bees as a bonus. Include self-seeders like forget-me-not and lady’s mantle, to cover bare soil.


Althaea rosea (hollyhock). Anemone x hybrida (Japanese anemone).

Lavendar flower

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Aquilegia vulgaris (columbine). Aster species and hybrids (michaclmas daisy).

Campanula pyramidalis (chimney bell flower). Delphinium species and hybrids (perennial larkspur).

Dianthus species and hybrids (pinks).

Helenium species and hybrids (sneezewort).

Kniphofia species and hybrids (red-hot-poker).

Korean chrysanthemums.

Lupinus species and hybrids (lupin).

Lychnis species (campion).

Ly thrum salicaria (purple and loosestrife).

Monarda didyma (bcrgamot).

Nepeta sfaassenii (catmint).

Phlox paniculata.

Rudbeckia species and hybrids (coneflower).


Cheiranthus x alliouii (Siberian wallflower).

Cheiranthus cheiri (wallflower).

Cheiranthus cheiri

Dianthus barbatus (sweet william).

Digitalis species (foxglove).

Hesperis matronalis (sweet rocket).

Lunaria annua (honesty).

Myosotis species (forget-me-not).

Oenothera biennis (evening primrose).

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

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Pansy. Polyanthus.


Viola tricolor (heartsease).


Iiuddleia davidii (butterfly bush).

Buddleia davidi var. nanhoensis.

Shrub roses, such as Rosa glauca, syn. R. rubrifolia.

Ribes sanguineum (flowering currant).


Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort).

Lavandula species (lavender).

Perovskia species.

Salvia Officinals

Rosmarinus species (rosemary).

Ruta graveolens (rue).

Salvia officinalis (sage).


Amaranthus caudatus (love-lies-bleeding).

Centaurea cyanus Calendula officinalis (pot marigold).

Centaurea cyanus (cornflower).

Centaurea imperialis (sweet sultan).

Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy).

Helianthus annuus (sunflower).

Lobularia maritimal (sweet alyssum).

Matthiola bicornis (night-scented stock).

Reseda odorata (mignonette).

Dianthus barbatus aka Sweet william from Lalba...

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Setaria italica (millet).


Convallaria majalis (lily-of-the-valley).

Crocosmia species and hybrids.

Crocus species.

Endytnion non-scriptus (bluebell).

Iris species.

Lilum candidurn (madonna lily).

Lilium regale (roval lily).

Narcissus pseudonarcissus (daffodil).

Paeonia species and hybrids (peony).

Tulipa (tulip).

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