Originally, gardens were mostly functional and practical, with fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and bushes crammed into a very small area. Cottage gardening tends to be rather labor intensive relying on manual intervention rather than modern chemical sprays. One downside to cottage gardening is that a garden that looks so vivid in summer can be seen to be sad in the winter given that a large proportion of the plants are annuals or herbaceous.
However, when in flower, the cottage garden can be extremely eye-pleasing and has devotees around the world in both the country and urban areas.
Principles of the Cottage Garden Style
How to Create a Beautiful Cottage Garden
The seeds of the modern cottage garden movement were sown at the end of the 19th century amid a nostalgia for English styles. An influential writer praised the virtues of gardens without pretension that were cultivated by cottage owners, as a reaction to the artificiality of the large country garden houses. They wanted to return to what he considered the small natives of gardening.
The garden of the typical cottage was very abundant with foliage and full of resistant flowers and bulbs, shrubs, fruit trees, herbs and vegetables. While (some trimmed into shapes) are important, they were not shrubs.
The base was lush soil kept in good condition by large quantities of manure. A wide variety of plants, often scented, were cultivated, such as ancient sprouts, Madonna lilies and roses next to marigolds or hollyhocks in flames with sunflowers that frame the door. However, little attention was paid to the harmonization of the color or geometry.
Lawns were rare, since it was thought that any free terrain was best used for more plant growth. The garden is typically divided by paths made with stones, tiles, shells, or flower beds.
Recreating the Style Today
While it is possible to recreate a traditional garden with success, the typical plants do not usually provide much interest in the autumn and winter, and maintenance requirements are high. However, many of the cottage garden principles are valuable as ideas for modern gardens, and it can be taken or modified to adapt to each site. There are certain typical features and plants which are often used today to create a rural and relaxing effect.
The design of the gardens can include surprisingly formal beds arranged symmetrically to produce flowers and straight roads edged with hedges of lavender or box. However, it is the careless abundance of planting, falling on roads and hedges to soften the hard edges which gives your gardens that crisp characteristic aspect of informality. It is the controlled informality factor that gives the true spirit of the style of the cottage garden.
The correct selection of plants is key to the success of a cottage garden. The beds should be planted with good examples of ancient flowers and some shrubs to give it a structure. A wide variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables should be grown both between (to produce what is known as “integrated” gardening) or next to the flowers. Aromatic plants are a good choice, especially those that attract bees. Favorites of one or two can be used repeatedly as “key” plants to produce a consistent effect.
Roads made with bricks, stones or gravel are practical, while a lavender outdoor edge offers fragrant flowers for drying, as well as attractive evergreen foliage. A rustic archway is an excellent feature to support fragrant climbing plants like honeysuckle or roses, and the edges of lupines, peonies, and pink and wall flowers recreate the feeling of wealth without limits.
If you’re looking for a more casual, less-manicured garden style please consider a cottage garden. It can provide a serene atmosphere for you to escape the pressures of modern life.