English cottage garden
Whats makes a cottage garden
The English cottage garden is basically an informal collection of traditional flowers and plants. The flowers are usually native species that will attract bees to pollinate crops and to make honey. Herbs and salad crops are grown in a cottage garden as well . It is believed that the cottage garden first appeared way back in the 1340's after the black death had killed a vast number of labourers in England. This made large areas of land hard to cultivate, so the households had to get what they needed from smaller areas of land, so the cottage garden was born. As well as the plants, fruit trees, bee hives, livestock and a well, were all features of the cottage garden. Of course these days we don't have the need for some of these things, so the cottage garden has developed into an informal collection of native plants. The cottage garden these days have come to include plants that were not native to England but are firm favorites. Planted in swathes and including flowers for height, texture and colour, the cottage garden is now a careful thought out design.
Cottage garden path
Features of a cottage garden
Appart from the plants a cottage garden has several features in common, the main one being a path. The path is the spine of the garden, but unlike a spine, it is best to have a path that curves and meanders. Why? Well the path should take you on a journey of discovery, wandering through the plants. Curves also serves to reflect the softness of the planting. The path of course should go somewhere, to seating or an arbour. Somewhere where the garden can offer a different view of the cottage garden. At no point should all the garden should be seen. This offers the feeling of wanting to travel and explore. Seating of course should compliment the garden, with soft lines and natural materials. It doesn't have to be expensive a couple of sturdy planks on some bricks can do the job very well. The seating looks best snuggled into the planting offering the senses all the garden can give. If you are more ambitious then an arbor can offer the garden a wow factor as you travel through the garden. usually covered with climbing roses, the arbour offers tranquillity and a design feature to display flowers on a different level. A well placed bird bath, statue or water feature all adds to the garden.
Cottage Garden design
Planting the cottage garden
To plant your plants in a cottage garden and to keep the design soft, it is best to plant them in curved shapes or swathes. To do this get a skipping rope or string and then lay it on the ground making a squashed circle. Inside this shape either prepare the soil for seeds or plant your plants. When you have done this remove the rope/string and do another shape next to it and plant with another flower. If, when your seeds germinate, you have a space, fill it with a bedding plant. Another thing to consider is a succession of flowering. Your aim is to have plants flowering throughout the growing season. You may also want to consider a plants that can add another dimension to the garden with an unusual texture, like spiky seed heads or leaves. So what plants to choose? The choice of course is yours but there are a few essentials that make a cottage garden. The first is Roses. Roses are the framework to the cottage garden and also Lavender. These shrubs will last for years, when treated right.
Caring for Roses
- Caring for roses
Roses are a good investment for any gardener as they can live up to 15 years with proper care and attention. There are many varieties, sizes and colors to suit every garden, from miniatures in containers to...
An early bloomer
A mixture of common garden flowers
I would like to suggest a few of my favorite flowers, the ones that I have had success with in my garden.
- Sweet peas-So easy to grow from seed. Start them on a sunny windowsill in March/April, in individual pots. When they are about 10 cm high harden them off and plant where they are to flower. They will need support. The scent from sweet peas are divine.
- Lupins- Tall spires of color that softly sway in the breeze. Collect the seed after blooming to keep your garden well stocked with this elegant bloom.
- Night scented stock-easy to grow from seed, planted outside where you wish them to bloom. Beautiful perfume in the evenings.
- Bleeding hearts- One of the earliest blooms, with delicate feathery foliage.
- Cosmos- available in soft pinks and whites, the blooms are striking but the foliage soft.
- cornflowers- available in soft blues, cornflowers are planted from seed straight into the garden.
- Snapdragons- soft spires of blooms that attract butterflies.
- Busy Lizzie's- cushions of flowers that bloom from may-September. Very easy to take a cutting from in the autumn and over-winter as an indoor plant, to be re-planted next spring.
- Delphiniums- Planted at the back of a boarder, they offer height and the perfect backdrop for your other blooms. Mostly available in blue, a soft subtle addition.
- Aquilegia or granny's bonnets, an early bloom that has that old fashioned charm.
- Sedum- an autumn version that attract butterflies even in September and October
Plants to go careful with
Some of the plants in a cottage garden has some things that you have to be aware of-
- Nasturtiums- They re-seed themselves with a vegence, and will come up all over the place for years.
- Mint- Every cottage garden needs herbs but mint must be contained. They spread on runners under the ground and will swamp the garden in no time.
- Foxgloves- they are a traditional plant that is poisonous- not to be grown if you have children
- Laburnum- dazzling yellow and green tree that cascade it's foliage to the ground, but the seeds are very poisonous
Grown from seed
More by this Author
Encouraging insects into the garden can seem contrary to everything we have done as gardeners. However ladybirds and lacewings can eat more than their weight of aphids every day. Lacewing larvae...
Fed up with slugs and snails eating your plants? Worried about the damage to the environment being done by slug pellets? Then you need the expert help of the common toad and frog. But how can you attract and keep frogs...
Ever since man could pull himself to his feet, he has had the need to write on walls and to decorate his living space with art. From the basic recording of every day life, to the lavish decorations of palaces, man has...