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Connecticut Garden Journal: English Cottage Gardens

Jan 18, 2018

With an already long feeling winter -- and it's still January -- it's a good time to plan your flower gardens. One design that everyone loves is the English cottage garden.

English cottage gardens are known for their informal style and overflowing with colorful abundance. Although they look chaotic, there's organization in that chaos. Here are some elements to designing your cottage garden.

Traditional cottage gardens are located close to the house, wall, or building and have fences, hedges, and gates. Originally these were to keep animals out of the garden, but now they can be used to create rooms with different themes and plantings.

While cottage gardens are a mix of perennials, annuals, bulbs, vegetables, fruits, shrubs, and trees, don't forget structures. Vertical structures such as pergolas, trellises, arbors, and teepees let plants climb, provide interesting visuals and to bring height to the garden.

Pathways are important too. Cottage garden paths wind and are irregular making the garden feel larger than it is and less linear. Use grass, bark mulch, or stone for pathways. Help guide visitors along the pathways with focal points. These can be plants, containers, sculptures, fountains, benches, or other objects that draw the eye down the path.

Finally, traditional English cottage garden plants include hollyhocks, peonies, Sweet William, roses, phlox, foxgloves, and wall flowers. Mix and match perennials, biennials, and annuals to have the garden in constant color all summer.

Give plants room to grow, but allow them to run into each other to create a sea of color and texture. Luckily, our Connecticut climate is similar enough to England where cottage gardens can thrive here.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about shade gardens. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.