Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Charm of Cottage Gardens

An excerpt from my gardening column, The Gardener's Corner.
Cottage gardens are a distinct style of informal design using traditional resources, dense plantings and a mix of ornamental and edible plants.  With an English origin, the cottage garden has the image of grace and charm, almost rustic, rather than a formal structure.
Web source
Early gardens were more practical than the ones of today with an emphasis on growing vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and including a beehive and livestock like ducks, chickens and pigs.  Every plant had to earn its keep as they not only had to have pleasing appeal, but were expected to produce something to eat.  Initially ornamental flowers were used to fill in spaces or some for companion planting to combat insects.  Eventually though, they evolved to become the dominant plants in the cottage garden. Many of the varieties were gathered as seeds and cuttings on the way home after working in the fields although the traditional hollyhocks, delphiniums, pansies and old fashioned roses remained fundamental.
In the early 1970s with an interest in natural and organic gardening, ornamental grasses, native plants, self sowing annuals and spreading perennials gained popularity as the cottage garden no longer had to be an area to provide self sufficiency.
Cottage gardens also have a romantic ambiance derived from many of the beautiful flowers grown in them.  A white picket fence with an arbour over the gate dripping in fragrant climbing roses is a common picture reflecting the entrance to an English cottage garden.  Daylilies, primroses, foxgloves and bellflowers are some old cottage favourites that also grace theses gardens.
My favourite annual to use in a cottage garden is easily started from seed.
Nigella can be started indoors or directly planted in the soil in spring.  They like a sunny location although I have had luck growing them in part shade.  Other folk names you may know this plant as are love-in-a mist or devil-in-a-bush. The foliage is feathery with dainty flowers of blue, rose, mauve or white and they reach 45 cm in height.  ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is the darkest blue to combine with pink roses or to have peeking out between other perennials.
Nigella makes a lovely cut flower and the seed pods add interest to dried arrangements.  This annual will self seed but is not bothersome, easy to pull out or save pods to share with friends.
All photos are my own unless otherwise noted.


Bernideen said...

When dried florals were at their height of popularity - I often included Love in a Mist- Nigella pods! This is a wonderfuln post!

podso said...

Love those bell flowers, what a gorgeous shade of pink. It's a nice article, with beautiful illustrations!

Sunray Gardens said...

Very pretty. I love cottage gardens myself if done properly. :) Meaning I still like them organized but love the full effect.
Cher Sunray Gardens

Karen Harvey Cox said...

Your gardens must be gorgeous in Spring. I love the look of an English countryside. This time of year, it looks especially dreamy.


Tanya Rachelle said...

Wonderful! Love arbors and how welcoming they are to a cottage garden. Great article with good info! Thanks.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

I have nigella that grew naturally in my garden last year. I thought it was really pretty!

Linda @Friendship Tea said...

Beautiful, beautiful post! Brings back memories of our visits to English cottages.

Beth said...

Very informative post! You illustrated your post with some great photos. I love the foxglove, nigella, and hemerocallis and of course the English cottage and garden. Beautiful!
Blessings, Beth

Angela McRae said...

Oh, golly, I have just been talking with our magazine's art director about the upcoming garden issue, and these great photos are definitely whetting my appetite for it to be SPRING! And I'd LOVE to know the name of your wonderfully frilly pink rose--it's just my cup of you-know-what!

Angela McRae said...

Never mind--just plopped that image over to the desktop and saw it's The Fairy, polyantha. Bless you for titling photos!

Susan said...

Oh, wouldn't you just love to live in a lovely English cottage like the one you showed? Soooo lovely. All the flowers are beautiful, too, and make me yearn for spring. Susan

Crafty Gardener said...

How wonderful to see lovely blooms on a cold and windy day. I especially love the foxglove, which I don't seem to have any luck growing in my gardens.

Vee said...

Always a dream, though my garden will never prove to be an English garden cottage. Love seeing yours and reading about your favorites.

Marissa said...

Just gorgeous!!! I love this time of year for us.. I can hardly wait to plant in my back yard.. husband wants me to wait cause he want to add more square foot.. oh, but I want to plant....

Kim Stevens said...

I love cottage gardens, but unfortunately since we moved 4 years ago I haven't had a chance to reform my yard yet. But I am getting excited for spring...

Daphne Bryson said...

Good Evening Judith, I adore cottage gardens. I am in the process of planting my garden this way. I am two thirds of the way there and this year I hope to have completed it.
I love, day lillies, primroses and foxgloves.
I used to give my daughters packets of love in the mist seeds to plant when they were little girls as they were easy to grow and they could see the results quickly.
Lovely post.
Best Wishes

Pamela Gordon said...

Judith these are such pretty photos to see this dreary day. Our snow has almost all gone with the wind, rain, fog and warm temperatures and has me thinking of spring but it's only Jan. 31st!! I did notice that my daffodils came up along the house as the snow is gone now. I know they'll get frost bitten and will go back to sleep though. Hugs, Pamela

Sylvia said...

Makes me yearn for spring, beautiful flowers and cottage.

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

I certainly yearn for a more colourful gardens. It's a goal, but is also overwhelming.

I think it is so impressive that you write a gardening column. Oh what wonderful things I could learn from you, m'lady!!

Elisabet said...

Hi Judith, what a lovely post. I am looking forward to starting my garden this coming spring. Definitely a cottage garden so I have taken notes from your post, :D
My biggest decision is going to be on which climbing rose I begin with (I'm sure eventually there will be more than one)! I am just tickled pink to have found you during Vicki's blog party - you are a gem for sure!
Talk again soon,
Beth P

Jann Olson said...

Judith, cottage gardening is my favorite style. It's the style that I have tried to create in my own garden. A friend gave me seeds of Love in a mist at my previous home. I had them popping up all over for years. My son bought our home and he still has them. I was planning on going down and gathering some seeds to sow here. Haven't done it yet. Maybe this will be the year.

Pondside said...

Love-in-a-mist - what a gorgeous name! This plant is beloved here because the deer don't eat it.

Everyday Things said...

I love the foxgloves and have even managed to grow them here..just!

nigella? I have never seen that flower, although I did watch nigella last night on the althought thats not the nigella you mean! lol

Magnolia Cottage said...

Dear Judith,
Your article on Cottage Gardens was very informative and inspiring. Beautiful photo's! Nigella is a very beautiful flower! I love roses,fox glove,daylilies, and ornamental grasses. They create a romantic garden and beautiful fragant bouquets. Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely evening.

Luján Fraix said...


Soy de Argentina, vengo del blog Rose Chinz Cottage, soy amiga de Sandi.

Tienes un blog precioso, voy a colocar tu enlace en el mio para que te visiten mis seguidores.

Me quedo en este hermoso paraíso. Adoro las flores y los jardines ingleses tan mágicos, tan llenos de ensueño.

Un beso

Mi blog principal es

Por si quieres visitarme.

Carolyn ♥ said...

I was born to be a cottage gardener... love the old fashioned grandmother's look. I've tried somewhat to design my perennial garden that way. But what I really just need is a sweet little cottage to live in. Maybe someday when we're ready to downsize.

Luján Fraix said...

Gracias amiga por venir a mi casa y disculpa lo del traductor.

Yo tengo un ordenador que cuando entro a blogs extranjeros me los traduce solo, no me di cuenta. Es que recién ahora estoy teniendo seguidoras de otros paises sino casi todas eran de España o Argentina.

Ya coloqué el traductor, ojalá te guste mi sitio.

Buenas Noches.

Felicity W said...

Hi Judith,
Thanks for such informative introduction of cottage gardens.


Betty Stapleton said...

what a lovely post, going back to reread it again. Thank you for sharing...

Georgianna said...

Hi Judith,

Oh, you really got me with this post! Nothing like a beautiful cottage garden to make one dream of butterflies and fairies. I wish I had enough sunshine in my garden to have a traditional cottage garden but our tall evergreens give me just a few precious sunny beds for my roses and hydrangeas. However, I DO have a white picket fence. :)

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.


Lady Linda said...

Such beautiful pix. I love foxgloves. You make me long for spring...sigh.
Thanks for the memories

iris said...

je m' aperçois en allant sur votre
blog , que nous avons plein
de gout en commun
j' adore les IRIS
le thé
les oiseaux
je vous ai mis dans mes coups de coeur
alors je viendrais souvent vous voir
à très bientôt
edith ( iris ) FRANCE

The Comfort of a Safe Place said...


I absolutely LOVE this post. I love cottage gardens, with the vast variety of old-fashioned flowers they show.

Jan ♥

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Judith, glad I discovered your blog from your comment at Bernideen's. Love your cottage garden photos!

Gabby said...

English cottage gardens are so beautiful. We're just too hot and dry here to really have them, but I enjoy looking at the pictures.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

How I long for Spring!
What a wonderful post, Judith. Your flowers are glorious and that cottage is dreamy! I would love to have an English cottage garden but I don't have the back for it and Hubby doesn't have time, so alas, I will just have to be content looking at yours and others' who love to garden. Thank you for sharing this at my HOME and I hope you're having a lovely weekend.


The Porcelain Rose said...

OMGosh! I am in love with that old English Cottage!!!
I love cottages and cottage style gardens. I am a big gardener and love heirloom varieties. I love all the birds, butterflies and bees such gardens attract. One of my greatest pleasures is to take a walk around my gardens in the early morning and watch the sun come up. I love the smell of blooming flowers and fresh cut grass...... enchanting.
I can't wait for Spring!!!!
Thanks for sharing!!
Will visit again soon.

Kathy A Delightsome Life said...

Hello Judith, this is so Delightful! Your post will be featured in this week's Home and Garden party! I appreciate you hosting,

Poppy said...

Hi Judith,

So nice to meet you! You won't believe this but, was planning on visiting you when I saw the pretty picture of your featured English cottage on Kathy's lovely link party, When I read that you are a fellow Canadian, I thought, 'How perfect!'. But, got sidetracked with delivering dinner to my daughter and you beat me to it! Looking forward to exploring your beautiful blog!


PS: I treasure tea time too, and love your 'Keep Calm' tribute to this precious pastime!

PlantWerkZ said...

This is such a wonderful garden. Every frower looking so beautiful. Thank you for sharing a great post.Ostrich Fern

Tootsie said...

awesome post! Blue is my favorite garden color! thanks for linking in!!! sorry I am so late getting around...hope you will link up again soon!
¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

Tootsie said...

awesome post! Blue is my favorite garden color! thanks for linking in!!! sorry I am so late getting around...hope you will link up again soon!
¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.


Related Posts with Thumbnails