Cottages are commonly associated with England, and so are the gardens that come with it. But that hasn't stopped people in America recreating a cottage style garden for their home. Unlike formal gardens which are focused on structure and perfect order, the style of a cottage garden is more free and relaxed. It's all about embracing your personality rather than sticking to strict flower arranging rules. You don’t need much gardening or design experience, just a vision of what plants you want, and where you want to plant them. Here are some ideas to create a stunning cottage style garden.
Incorporate Vintage Garden Accessories
The aim of a cottage style garden is to not look too polished and instead showcase characteristic charm. Try to incorporate garden accessories that are antique or have a vintage look. Weathered items such as a pitchfork or watering can are a great choice as they show signs of aging but have vintage appeal. You could even use an old milk can or a rustic wheelbarrow as a planter for spring and summer flowers. Anything goes!
Add an Arbor
For an absolutely stunning effect, consider placing an arbor in your cottage garden. These are wonderfully romantic and make a charming grand entrance as you walk up to your yard. Decorate it with climbing flowers and vines to dress it up for spring and summer. Roses are an attractive flower choice as they hang beautifully across an arbor. While Morning Glory is a fast growing vine that can produce brightly colored flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink and white.
Plant Mixed Flowers Instead of Grass
To create the true style of a cottage garden you need to display a fun and free flowing landscape of flowers. The brighter and more colorful they are, the better. Start off by planting a variety of flowerbeds in different textures and colors. By replacing the grass with flowers you create a more informal and relaxed atmosphere which showcases a lot of natural beauty.
Create Rain Boot Planters
Forget the rigid wooden planters and terracotta pots, and instead inject some personality into your plant containers. Gather a collection of quirky unexpected items to use as planters instead, like a rain boot. If you’ve outgrown or worn out a pair of boots and can no longer fill them with your feet, fill them with soil instead. Depending on how big the boots are, plant between two and four flowers. Marigolds and snapdragons are an excellent choice. You can display your boots anywhere you want in your garden, and could even attach them to the fence with either nails or cup hooks to create hangers.
Create a Winding Garden Path
To demonstrate the free flowing nature of your cottage garden, create a winding garden path. You can use a range of paving materials including wood chips, gravel, old bricks and flagstone. Lay down your material to pave a path that cuts through your flower beds to allow you to enjoy the beauty of the flowers as you walk from one end of the garden to the other. Avoid having a straight and rigid path as this will be associated too much with formality and structure. Instead make sure that it effortlessly winds along the garden. If you’re worried about materials such as gravel and wood chips getting into the flowerbeds, add a stone or brick border. This will not only keep your the flowers free from obstruction, but also enhance the attractiveness of the path.
Build a White Picket Fence
White picket fences are often found in cottage gardens as they help to keep everything in order and prevent the landscape looking too messy. Line the perimeter of your garden with a small white picket fence and allow the flowers nearby to intertwine with the panels. Plants that manage to peek through the fence will provide gorgeous bursts of color against a crisp white backdrop, and prevent the fence from looking too bland. If you are unsure about installing a fence which creates a boundary around the whole of your garden, you could instead place a small section around specific flowers and plants to highlight their beauty.
Grow Vibrant Classic Flowers
What makes a cottage garden is the choice of flowers. Bold and vibrant colors are a must, while old fashioned flowers with full petals are also a signature style commonly found in these types of gardens. Rambling roses are versatile and can be used to decorate arches, built walkways, trellis and fencing. They produce small flowers which are displayed in bunches and come in soft shades of pink, red and white. Another top choice of flower is hollyhocks, which incorporate both color and a beautiful soft scent. The leaves feature solitary flowers in a range of shades including pink, purple, white and yellow. They're a timeless and very romantic choice of flower, making them a popular feature in cottage gardens.
Add Low Key, Homely Furniture
In every cottage garden there should be a table and chairs so you and your visitors can sit down and relax while enjoying the view of your stunning outdoor space. Avoid buying anything that is contemporary, and choose comfortable, low key furniture that creates a homely feel. Wicker and painted metal shellback chairs are a wonderful choice, while a rustic wooden table will add to the vintage feel already created by the garden accessories. Feel free to mix different materials and textures, as part of the charm of this style of garden is having a relaxed informal look which you love. So there’s no need to worry about making sure your furniture matches. If you’ve got a tree in your garden and you’re feeling creative, try incorporating it into your furniture. Hang an old door from the tree using heavy rope, to create a handy outdoor table. Then just place your chairs around it and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat as you gaze at the scenery.