If a mix of beautiful blooms, useful plants, and an aura of old-fashioned romantic charm sounds appealing, then a cottage style garden might be the perfect addition to help you turn your house into a home. Traditionally, these gardens were planted by the lady of the house, and included a mixture of her favorite flowers and practical kitchen herbs. The cottage style garden can truly be personalized to fit your own sense of aesthetics, and can provide useful edible plants as well.

At first glance, planting a cottage style garden may appear easy. There is less emphasis on formal structure in the layout, aside from making sure each plant receives its share of water and sunlight. Diversity is more important than geometry, and plants tend to be relatively hardy and low-maintenance. The free-form style and lack of finicky exotic flowers may lead you to believe a cottage style garden is simple to plan; yet, the lack of rules can actually make this style more challenging to design. Luckily, you are free to choose from a wide array of flowers, shrubs, herbs and trees that appeal to you personally and are easy to grow.

Flowering trees, such as Magnolia or Hawthorne, lend a traditional touch and provide welcome shade to seating areas. Colorful shrubs such as Hydrangeas, Lilacs, or Azaleas make colorful and fragrant back border plants for shady gardens. Choose the ones that appeal to you personally, making sure to include a mix of your favorite colors. If you pay careful attention to blooming times, you can be sure to have a consistent mix of blooms in your garden at any given time. Also remember that the slightly wild look of a cottage garden gives you a little bit of freedom from strict pruning rules; prune for the health of the plant, but not to create boxy geometric shapes. Ornamental grasses can add a whimsical flow to the garden that flowers alone cannot create.

As for edible plants, pretty much anything goes with cottage style gardens. Blueberry bushes, grapes, or other fruit-bearing plants lend both a useful and charming touch. Herbs are also popular, and provide a delicious, organic source of flavor for your kitchen. (Check out our blog on edible gardens for more ideas)

As for hardscape, brick, flagstone, and decomposed granite are commonly associated with cottage style gardens. Hardscape can be used as you see fit, to create peaceful pathways or patios for seating areas. Add a few more decorative touches such as white picket fencing, lattice, an arbor gate or wicker furniture, and you’ll have the romantic outdoor landscape of your dreams. Please call us for a consultation, and we’ll be happy to help you create the perfect cottage style garden that you can enjoy for years to come.

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