What is a cottage garden?
The English cottage garden is an informal style of planting that involves using a romantic jumble of plants in densely packed borders, beds and containers. Many gardens favour self-seeding plants such as foxgloves, in order to encourage naturalistic planting. Cottage gardens can also contain vegetables, though many of today’s gardens in this style focus solely on ornamental plants.
Where did the cottage gardening style come from?
The cottage garden concept is said to date back to over 150 years ago, emerging during the Victorian era. Allotments were very popular during this time, and many were actually attached to houses rather than centralised in a communal green space. This allowed people to grow a variety of flowers and produce, creating a very informal style of gardening that was completely tailored to the owner.
The cottage garden was then immortalised and romanticised by painters such as Helen Allingham, and became a regular fixture on postcards and in children's books as a stark contrast to industrialisation.
It could have also been that the cottage style was invented as a rebellion to the fixed, formal gardens that were so popular at the time. Bedding plants had just erupted in popularity and neighbours were competing to create the best displays, so perhaps cottage style was created as a more relaxed alternative.
Popular cottage garden plants
- Delphiniums - these tall cottage garden plants are graceful, Delphiniums pack plenty of height and beauty into a plant.
- Digitalis - Also known as Foxgloves, Digitalis plants self-seed and attract many pollinators, especially beads.
- Hollyhock - Another tall variety, Hollyhocks produce beautiful cup-shaped single and double flowers in romantic colours.
- Lupins - Flowering from May to June, Lupins produce bold flower spikes that are ideal for use as cut flowers.
You may also be interested in Suttons perennial borders.