Cottage Gardens

A romantic idyll from the past

Exuberant with flowers, fruit and vegetables of all descriptions and framed with hedges and picket fences, few gardens are more evocative of a past era than the traditional cottage garden.

Fortunately, you do not have to live in a cottage to enjoy this type of garden. It is a style that blends happily with most smaller houses and bungalows.

The charm of the cottage garden lies in its profusion and apparently random groupings of colour and texture. However, the secret of success is a strong underlying structure and planting plan.

Garden structure

cottage gardensPlan the front garden to be welcoming as well as to set off your cottage or house. For example, frame the house with small flow­ering trees on each side, and grow a rambler rose or honeysuckle over trellis around the front door.

Traditionally, a hedge or a picket fence marks the garden boundaries, and a path leads from the gate to the front door. For an informal look, build a path of brick or paving and allow self-seeding flowers to pop up in the cracks. Rear and side cottage gardens are often divided into separate areas linked with a path. Some areas, such as a vegetable patch, may be screened from the rest. Hedging is traditional, but trellis saves space and can support climbing plants.

Planting schemes

The chart overleaf will give you an idea of the sorts of plants to choose. For narrow borders, place climbers and tall plants at the back and low-growing plants at the front edge. Wider beds allow a greater mixture of heights.

Take the location into account. For example, plant scented flowers near sitting areas and windows, and position herbs in a sunny spot near the kitchen.

Seasonal planting

Choose early bulbs such as snowdrops and crocuses to herald the spring. Plant anemone and daisy to flower throughout the autumn. Brighten up dark winter days with the fiery-coloured rosehips of old roses, and winter flow­ers such as Christmas rose.

Plant care

The great advantage of many traditional plants is that they need minimal care. Old-fashioned roses do not need pruning, just tidying up each year. Self-seeding flowers simply need debris removed in autumn. Thin out new plants in spring to ensure more vigorous plants, like marigold, do not take over. Tall flowers like holly­hock and delphinium may need extra support. Tie them loosely to stakes or canes. But many flowers look attractive drooping slightly. Deadheading (removing dying flowers) will prolong flowering.

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MIXED PLANTING

Planting vegetables and flowers together makes efficient use of a small garden and follows the true cottage garden tradi­tion. Flowering herbs like thyme and rosemary, and unusual salad plants like curly endive and red lettuce, add scent and texture to flower borders.

Decorative vegetables like red cabbage make an unusual feature. Use runner beans as climbers.

POPULAR VARIETIES

Climbers:

     

Honeysuckle

Lonicera

Old-fashioned roses

Rosa

Jasmine

Jasminum

Clematis

Clematis

Sweet pea

Lathyrus odoratus

Scarlet runner bean

Phaseolus

Tall flowering plants:

   

Delphinium

Delphinium

Globe thistle

Echinops

Hollyhock

Alcea

Red hot poker

Kniphofia

Lupin

Lupinus

Foxglove

Digitalis

Lily

Lilium

Sunflower

Helianthus

Medium-small flowering plants:

   

Forget-me-not

Myosotis

Mallow

Lavatera

Marigold

Calendula

Poppy

Papaver

Cornflower

Centaurea

Bleeding heart

Dicentra

Michaelmas daisy

Aster

Valerian

Centranthus

Christmas rose

Helleborus niger

Madwort

Alyssum

Sweet William

Dianthus barbatus

Bellflower

Campanula

Columbine

Aquilegia

Cosmos

Cosmos

Honesty

Lunaria

Nasturtium

Tropaeolum

Pansy

Viola wittrockiana

Violet

Viola

Japanese anemone

Anemone x hybrida

Tobacco plant

Nicotiana

Pinks

Dianthus

Wallflowers

Cheiranthus

Night-scented stock

Matthiola bicornis

Masterwort

Astrantia

Lady’s mantle

Alchemilla

Bluebell

Hyacinthoides

Snowdrop

Galanthus

Daffodil

Narcissus

Low-growing edging plants:

   

Thyme

Thymus

Lavender

Lavandula

Chamomile

Anthemis

Lamb’s ears

Stachys

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FENCE FINISHES

When choosing a fence, keep in mind that a neat, white-painted picket fence will require regular repaint­ing. If this is a problem, a dark-coloured wood stain is a low maintenance alterna­tive to paint. A natural finish (no covering on the timber) is only possible with hardwoods, such as oak or walnut.

Picket fences and hedges are attractive ways to contain a cottage garden, but both require regular maintenance

23. August 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Cottage Gardens, Gardening Ideas | Tags: , | Comments Off on Cottage Gardens

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