How To Create Your Own Cottage Garden
Amateur Gardening|March 21, 2020
Brimming with blooms and filled with fragrance, this timeless classic appeals to the romantic in us all. Hazel Sillver reveals the plants and design tricks you need
Hazel Sillver

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.

Perfumed picks

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.

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