More of us are gravitating toward vintage and rustic style décor in our houses and gardens. The beauty of this theme is the aura of relaxation and comfort surrounding them. Some of us might be a stickler for perfectly preened lawns and hedges, but the cottage style garden allows our creativity to run riot, embracing the wildness of nature and all things rustic.
When designing the cottage garden, minimalism is most certainly out, but consideration does need to be taken on where and how you place your plants. It might be tempting to throw everything out and let it grow, but this method is more likely to result in one plant dominating in the space and the rest failing to thrive. Similarly, while symmetry is not a staple of the cottage-style garden, balance most certainly is. Bold plants such as dahlias need bold counterparts such as roses.
It’s worth considering the addition of soft and hard landscaping features to compliment your cottage-style garden also. A winding path that gives you a tour of the garden is perfect addition, and upcycled vintage furniture like benches, statues, and window boxes are perfect for maximum aesthetics. The aim of the cottage-style garden is to be an assault on the senses. Bursts of colour, smell and sound all lend itself to this style. A water feature can add a bit of luxury to any garden and the tinkling of water adds a layer of relaxation and calm.
Arches and pergolas are also an effective addition to this style of garden. Climbing plants can lend a further air of quaintness. One of the best climbing plants for arbors and pergolas is clematis, which blooms in abundance from spring and can be combined with other plants to look even more sublime. If you’re looking for a climber that can easily cover a pergola, then honeysuckle is your plant. The heady scent of honeysuckle is a great addition and they don’t require a huge amount of maintenance, which suits the cottage-style garden aesthetic down to the ground.
Like any garden, the cottage-style garden requires regular maintenance. In full bloom the cottage garden will look amazing, and very much fulfill its expectations. By choosing perennials rather than annuals, plants will come back year on year, meaning far less work for you. Penstemons, Lupins, Rudbekia, Phlox and Hostas fit this brief perfectly, and alongside this when in bloom can fill your garden with the most delicious scents. One of the most important jobs for this type of garden is deadheading your plants. You want maximum colour and energy in your blooms; deadheading allows all the energy of the plant to be fed into producing new flowers again, producing many more flowers over a short space of time.
Although your cottage-style garden might experience a period of down-time outside the summer season, planting bulbs such as daffodils and tulips for spring, autumn crocus and winter iris mean that your garden will bloom for a significant part of the year.
The key to cottage-style gardens is pairing lush green with bursts of colour. If you can find the balance between a garden that is growing in abundance but also that is under control you’re onto a winner!
JASON IS A PROFESSIONAL GARDENER AND LANDSCAPER, AND OWNER OF JHPS-GARDENS LTD.
HE REGULARLY WRITES A PIECE FOR OUR WEBSITE, PLUS THE SENTINEL NEWSPAPER,
AND IS A GO TO EXPERT ON BBC RADIO STOKE’S GARDENING PROGRAMME.