Creating a Cottage Garden

Creating a Cottage Garden
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Creating a Cottage GardenCreating a Cottage Garden

Cottage gardens are a popular type of landscaping with their whimsical, seemingly haphazard style of combining annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, fruit and even vegetables into one location. How did the idea of a cottage gardens begin?

This type of garden was a practical way during medieval times to grow the seeds and plant divisions given to them by other gardeners, as well as the wild plants they would forage. There was limited land for the common folk, so all land, even that which was close to the house became gardening space.

Picture a small cottage, sometimes in very rough shape, surrounded by a rustic fence where perhaps chickens wander, and paths are made from stone or whatever material was available to the gardener.

Within this fenced area grow plants such as wild rose, nettle, onions, garlic, medicinal herbs, and vegetables. Amidst these plants would be bursts of color from native wildflowers and perhaps annuals grown from seed. As time went on this style of garden remained but changed depending on the cottage owner's style and needs.

There are perennials that work extremely well in a cottage garden because they are easy to grow and will multiply in the garden easily.  I have found the following perennials are often offered by family and friends who are happy to share, especially if they are giving help with the dividing and replanting.


-Shasta Daisy




Hostas and Daylilies are very easy to grow, divide and transplant. I consider these "unkillable" perennials. Hostas offer a beautiful texture and the foliage seems to set off the color of the blooms surrounding them. They multiply each year in the right conditions and can grow in any type of shade successfully, or full sun as long as they receive enough moisture. Daylilies grow in any type of soil, and multiply quickly. They are available in so many glorious colors that will brighten a cottage garden.

Rudbeckias are varied and tricky to grow from seed, but many wonderful varieties are available in plant form. Shasta daisy will brighten any cottage garden with it cheerful white and yellow blooms.  It’s one of my favorite flowers.

Creating a Cottage Garden

There are many other perennials and annuals that are a charming addition to cottage gardens.  Below is a list of some of my favorites.

-Garden Phlox



-Love Lies Bleeding


-Bleeding Heart

-Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)



-Bee Balm (Monarda)

-Rose of Sharon

-Tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora)



-Oriental Lilies

-Trumpet Vines

-Morning Glories


While the plants are the most important part of a cottage garden, it's also important to add a few structures to add to its beauty. This can be done by placing a trellis, arbor, gate, sundial, spirals, or other garden art in your garden. Paths always add a charming touch as well, and of course fences. These items are the "foundation" of your garden, giving you focus points to build around; otherwise you end up a messy area, rather than a charming garden. 

Cottage gardens do take patience to achieve the look we have pictured in our minds. Take notes, makes plans and don't be afraid to add new plants, change the location of others, and experiment by thinking outside the box. A cottage garden should reflect a gardener’s personality, and welcome visitors with open arms.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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