Here’s some helpful advice to help you create your dream cottage garden anywhere in the world. Anything goes in cottage gardening, colours clash and tall plants can be planted in front of small ones. If you prefer a little order, plant in groups of three or five to create blocks of colour and confine tall plants to the back of the border.
Plants such as roses, sweet peas and delphiniums are traditional cottage plants because they have soft petals in a good mix of pale pastel shades. Look for plants that flower for a long time and that can be packed tightly together, and make sure there’s plenty of height (foxgloves, hollyhocks, lupins) to make the garden look really established the true art of creating a cottage garden is to make it look as though it’s been there forever.
Avoid too many spiky exotics, non-flowering evergreens and conifers with the exception of pretty, dipped topiary effects that can suit a country style.
Keep the whole effect looking busy by smothering every surface soil, walls, fences and paths with a range of plants and climbers. For year round structure, make sure you include plenty of Winter Bloomers to continue the flowering display after the annuals have gone and perennials have died down.
Tips you will love
- Healthy varieties of cottage-garden classics, such as mildew-resistant Michaelmas daisies and plants that don’t need staking, such as sedum, euphorbia and dwarf delphiniums.
- Containers half-sunk into borders, they instantly create an established, slightly haphazard effect and the soil won’t dry out as quickly as if it’s in freestanding containers.
- Looking out for alternative containers. Discarded crates and boxes even umbrellas, look charming when turned upside down, spilling over with flowers. This also avoids the expense of buying new accessories.
- The picture above shows a traditional cobble path but you can even opt for something more modern like some silver mosaic tiles which could really make a great talking point.
What you should avoid
- Gravel paths, which need to be hand-weeded throughout the year. Opt for mortared look-a-like brick slabs or the real thing.
- Metal containers because they dry out quicker than plastic ones. Or try plastic terracotta ones they are lined with plastic and pricked with holes.
- Mowing neat lawns isn’t essential, so naturalise your grass with pheasant’s eye daffodils in the autumn and then mow a wavy path through it in the spring. If you don’t want to grow plants from seed, buy container-grown perennials and you’ll end up with flowers that bloom in the summer and die down every winter.