Cottage gardening is a relaxed style with a few classic characteristic design elements that allow relaxed planting and personal expression. Anyone can have a cottage garden, or at least a slice of one, anywhere in the world. Any landscape can include an area where you can plant stuff ‘every which way’ and enjoy using all your senses, all year.

Though no two cottage gardeners-or their gardens-are alike, most share certain characteristics which proclaim them as cottage gardens. They include a sense of enclosure, strong vertical elements, a small lawn or no lawn, a wide assortment of locally-adapted plants, and personalized garden accessories.

Here are some tips on how to create your own cottage garden:

  • Start small. An expansive cottage garden can look like an untended garden; you can always add more later if you decide to. Keep a bit of lawn to break things up and avoid straight lines in planning your garden.
  • Use a good mix of plants, including a variety of fragrant flowers, and start by planting large clumps so it’s not just a jumble. If you live in a hot, dry climate, don’t be afraid to substitute Mediterranean plants or succulents.
  • Repeat both plants and colors to create a sense of flow and harmony. Don’t forget to add tall plants for visual interest. You don’t need to worry about putting them in the back, as you might in a border, but you do want the eye to move up and around, rather than viewing one flat plane.
  • Add some paths for access and weeding. Choose path material to complement your garden and home. Traditional materials include brick, stone, gravel, or dirt. Let plants spill over each other and onto the walkways.
  • Introduce structure with small trees, shrubs or obelisks covered in vines. Strong feature plants, like shrub roses, flowering trees, and shrubs will prevent the look from becoming blurred and gauzy. Evergreen plants give any garden a sense of structure.
  • As a finishing touch, give the garden a backdrop and add decorative touches. Hedges, rustic fences or even a wall, will serve as a background that brings the garden into focus. Because of the informality of a cottage garden you can decorate with all kinds of found objects and garden accents, including trellising, vine-covered arbors, antiques, benches, and birdbaths.

The most important thing is to carve out a small, fun, enclosed space for growing plants for the love of it, and to indulge your creative fantasies.

Join us this Friday 4 March for our FREE online workshop on ‘Cosy Cottage Gardens’, with Garden Guru Sue Both. 

Please use the following login details to join us at 11am sharp over Zoom:

Meeting ID: 871 4906 9022   Passcode: 567565

or use the following direct link: