Garden trends come and go, but the appeal of the English cottage garden never seems to wane – and that is true not just in England (or even Britain) but all over the world. It’s a style that celebrates flowers and scent, with an unashamed informality that is at once homely and romantic – little wonder the late garden writer (a regular contributor to AG in the 1950s) Margery Fish wrote: “Nowhere in the world is there anything quite like the English cottage garden.”
To recreate this classic, you need to first identify the key attributes of the cottage garden – and then work out how to incorporate them into your own plot. In summer, a cottage garden should be a sea of flowers. Snapdragons, nigella and poppies are always in the mix, and should be combined with long-flowering perennials such as Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Evening’ and hardy geraniums.
Many people tend to associate pastel shades with this style of garden, but don’t be afraid of bolder hues – pools of colour will add vibrancy and create focal points. Consider incorporating scarlet poppies such as Papaver ‘Vesuvius’, and geums like ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’, as well as the shocking pink of Lychnis coronaria and Lathyrus latifolius.
Scent is a given, and comes courtesy of fragrant favourites such as sweet peas, which can be grown up teepees of hazel canes. Also try pinks (dianthus) and the compact mock orange Philadelphus ‘Manteau d’Hermine’. Allow scented roses to clamber up walls and trees, and squeeze them into every border, where they should be dotted in among perennials rather than planted en masse.
Remember that although the look you are going for may be traditional, the roses don’t have to be. Along with old repeat-flowering favourites such as pink ‘Jacques Cartier’, many modern varieties also fit the bill – ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, for example. Two short climbing roses that produce sprays of romantic blooms are pale pink ‘Blush Noisette’ and ‘Ghislaine de Féligonde’, with its apricot petals.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Worst weeds ever!
Weeds come in all shapes and sizes, with some being less welcome than others, but which are the worst? Graham Rice investigates and explains how to get rid of them
Mind the gap!
Val picks insect-friendly plants to fill a rose gap
Call of the wild
An unexpected treat in the fridge has given Toby the chance to transform a patch of grass into a floral fantasy
Anne Swithinbank’s masterclass on: wayward strawberries
Bring out the baskets
A particularly cold April and early May meant that many people delayed starting their hanging baskets, but early June is a great time to start
Along came a spider...
You may not be an arachnid lover, but the fact is that spiders work hard to keep the bugs at bay, says Bob
Smarter Planting Time
Get a great crop and avoid cauliflower pests
A Gardener's Miscellany
Gardening’s king of trivia and brain-teasers, Graham Clarke
Five-Star Plant Selection
Percy Thrower continues his series with the best bulbs for the garden
Autumn Flower Bombs
Bury some treasure in the ground this month and you will be rewarded with autumn-flowering bulbs that explode with colour
Tips and tricks for modern container gardening
Best of Both Gardens
Greg Loades’ book outlines how to fuse the elements of a traditional and new-age landscape for the perfect modern cottage garden.
Bonding Through Birds
Kindness spreads through this Kentucky nursing facility, but it starts with feathered friends at a window.
Junco family tree
Meet the many variations of this beloved snowbird and popular wintertime visitor.
What is your favorite owl and why?
Readers share special memories and the species they think is most interesting.
At the Edge of Lake Erie
Try these three activities at Point Pelee National Park.
How Birds Get Named
Meet the committee in charge of naming and organizing birds.
Prime Time For Planting
Find Out Why Fall Is Perfect For Late-Season Gardening.
A Mind Shaped By Gardening
Sue Stuart-Smith is a psychiatrist and gardener. Her new book The Well-Gardened Mind explores the power of gardening to change people’s lives.
Two doves: One native, one an intruder
We have two types of doves in north-central Washington: Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared-Dove.