Garden Forever

The Cottage Garden

The cottage garden was believed to have originated in England during the Tudor period when the country enjoyed an extended period of peace, leading to a renaissance. With new exotic plants brought from the East and the New World, there was an intense interest in gardening across the land. The poorer people who dwelt in their small, humble cottages had to plant hardy plants such as vegetables, annuals, vines, perennials, small trees, irises, foxgloves, and vines. The cottage garden became very popular during the Victorian era. Generally, the gardens had enough land for the cultivation of food, as well as the rearing of chickens and pigs. Some of the people who helped to popularize and influence this gardening style include Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, George William Johnson, William Robinson, and Gertrude Jekyll. Today, original cottage gardens can be found in Tudor, the Deep South, and other parts of England, as well as in Wales and Scotland.

What Sets Cottage Gardens Apart

Cottage gardens are described as warm, personable gardens. Let’s look at some of the characteristics which set them apart from other gardens.

  • Informal Design: Instead of orderly rows of plants, the cottage garden has thick borders, masses of plants, and various plant groupings.
  • Closely Grown Plants: There are not many open spaces in cottage gardens. All the plants are packed together to fully utilize available space.
  • Easy Maintenance: In a cottage garden, not much maintenance is needed, because the hardy plants are allowed to freely reseed and spread on their own.
  • Various Plant Groupings: A cottage garden has a great variety of plants like bulbs, perennials, herbs, fruits, trees, shrubs, vegetables, berries, vines, and annuals.
  • Filled with Life: The various plants attract many types of wildlife like frogs, birds, butterflies, turtles, rabbits or even deer. Some cottage gardeners may rear chickens or ducks or even put in a bee hive for honey and pollination.
  • Guidelines for Cottage Gardens
  • Principles of Cottage Planting
  • Cottage Garden Design Principles
  • Characteristics of a Cottage Garden
  • Cottage Garden Style

Starting Your Own Cottage Garden

Here are some tips to help you start your own cottage garden.

  • The Cottage: Without the cottage, it is just not a cottage garden. The cottage is defined as a small, humble dwelling. Take some time to consider the size, style, design, and materials of the cottage.
  • Structures: Structures within the garden should accentuate the character of the cottage. Wooden fences and gates are always recommended, but they should be proportionate to the cottage. Try to add arbors, trellises, and arches for finer detail.
  • Walkways: Walkways should be created to meet your requirements, but it is important to make sure that they are proportionate to the size of the cottage garden. Think about the size and the materials of the walkways.
  • Beds: Build your planting beds according to the size of the garden and the cottage. It is also essential to consider the depth of the beds. Generally, it is harder to maintain beds which are more than 8 feet in depth. Since you will be planting a large variety of plants, you should pack the beds with organic material beforehand.
  • Planting: By grouping similar plant materials, you can achieve a greater visual impact in the garden. Color is used to accentuate other principles of design. Always try to create balance, harmony, and rhythm with colors. You can also create some harmony and depth by mixing plants of different texture in the garden.
  • Popular Flowers & Fauna: Some of the popular plants used in cottage gardens are annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, and small trees like Redbuds, apples, peaches, and mimosas. Popular flowers include daisies, violets, primroses, Calendula, and roses.
  • Cottage Garden Basics
  • Designing the Cottage Garden
  • Tips on Cottage Garden Design
  • Free Lessons on Cottage Garden Creation
  • Cottage Plants

Cottage Garden Weddings

Enchanted by the magical charm of cottage gardens, some couples choose to conduct their weddings in cottage gardens. It’s a novel idea because cottage gardens can provide an excellent venue for such an important occasion. If you know a specific cottage garden where you would like to hold your wedding, check to see if it can accommodate your requirements. Otherwise, you can contact a wedding planner to find the perfect cottage garden.

Organizations & Other Resources