The Cottage Garden
The concept of the cottage garden first came about hundreds of years ago. Poor farm workers would use the gardens of their humble dwellings to grow edible crops and herbs to sustain their families. During the 1800’s, wealthier citizens caught on to its appeal. Over time, this led to the adaptation of the cottage garden from food production, to a space to be enjoyed recreationally, filled with flowering charm and beauty.
Today, one of the best things about the cottage garden is that there are no rules. Whether in the conventional rural idyll, or a hidden urban treasure box, all cottage gardens have their own unique charm and appeal. Every nook and cranny can be filled with plants to reflect any personality.
If you plan to create your own cottage garden, it’s best to start off small to stop it growing out of control. Learn how to keep plants abundant and healthy and gradually expand the size. Enjoy the biodiversity that a mix of plants will bring to your garden. Diseases and pests are likely to be minimal as the many varieties of plants will attract beneficial insects and wildlife.
Some of the best plants to choose for your cottage garden are simple varieties which are high performance, but also tough and reliable. A colourful mix of perennials, annuals and flowering shrubs will give you a year round vision.
Part of the appeal of the cottage garden is the alluring chaotic charm which breaks all of the rules. Let old fashioned favourites such as geraniums, heleniums and foxgloves weave through each other to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Clumps of perennials such as salvia, rudbeckia and aquilegia can be used as a backbone of colour year after year. And be sure to include evergreens to add winter interest. Plants such as lavender are great for adding year round colour and fragrance.
Producing a profusion of flowers in a short space of time means that your soil will need to be kept in good condition all year round. It’s a good idea to feed your soil in early spring and dig in well rotted manure between plants during the winter.
Use fun elements. Add old wheelbarrows, lanterns and statues to give a personal effect!
Remember, the cottage garden may look to be a low-maintenance, haphazard style, but they actually require a great amount of effort. You will forever be kept, feeding, deadheading, watering and tweaking, but in the most satisfying way!