Cottage Garden

The call of a cottage garden, filled with a profusion of flowers and smelling of roses, dianthus, and lilacs, is alluring indeed. The image of a resplendent, colorful garden has enticed many a homeowner to install a picket fence and a bounty of flowers in the hopes of creating such a haven.

Most cottage gardens seem to set a romantic tone. Maybe it is because pastel shades are favored here or perhaps it is because fragrant flowers are popular in this kind of garden. Peonies and old roses scent the air and add that touch of sumptuous sensuality. But there are many plants you can use.

The original cottage gardens were planted by British laborers who had little land and no time for flowers. They simply needed food for their family and herbs to treat illnesses so they planted vegetables, herbs, and fruit interspersed with a few flowers to ward off bugs.

Around the end of the eighteenth century, members of the well-to-do gentry began to idealize the cottage life and created their own version of cottage gardens. It was then that the British cottage garden was transformed into the flower-filled setting that we dream of today.

Cottage gardens traditionally have plant beds by the house packed tight with plants. This informal crowding of a wide variety of plants is a signature feature and the mix of perennial and annual flowers with vegetable and foliage plants, twining around each other and competing for attention, is what makes a cottage garden so fascinating.

Good, rich organic soil ensures that overflowing plant beds look great and plants stay healthy. Make sure to incorporate plenty of compost in the soil and use compost, tea, or fish emulsion fertilizer. Also cover the soil with mulch (not dyed). Mulch is important as it maintains soil moisture, keeps temperatures steady, and improves soil as it breaks down.