9 cottage garden design ideas to add a bit of whimsy to your garden

Imagine stepping out into your garden on a warm summer morning and finding yourself enveloped in a sea of ​​color as waves of fragrance awaken your senses. The gentle air breeze filters through the vines, merging the scents of jasmine and roses.

He may have entered a priest’s garden.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to live in a country house to adopt this style of gardening. The cottage garden philosophy can be adapted to most types of environments, from suburban backyards to urban lots and even container gardens.


But what is a vegetable garden?

Traditional cottage gardens were modest affairs, squeezed together with their respective cottages to maximize every inch of space. Originally, cottage gardens in England were meant to be productive spaces for their keepers, so each plant served a dual purpose to add interest and utility to the plot.

At first there was no real design philosophy beyond utility, although over time famous Victorian horticulturists such as Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson helped adapt and popularize this style ; they are rightly considered the likely influencers of what we now call a priest’s garden.

But you don’t have to be an expert horticulturist or gardener to reap the benefits of this style of gardening. Here are eight ways to incorporate cottage garden features into your own design.

1. Choose dual function plants.

Multitasking may not be desirable for our tired brains; but in the country garden, multitasking is encouraged because maximizing results without wasting resources is one of the tenets of this style of gardening.

Cottage garden staples that are both decorative and edible include rosemary, lavender, thyme, hyssop, chamomile, verbena, oregano, marjoram, lemon balm, echinacea and nasturtiums.

As a general rule, to create good visual flow, mix tall plants like verbena and hyssopanis with plants that stay low to the ground like nasturtiums and oregano.

2. Mix edible and ornamental plants.

But cottage gardens aren’t just herb gardens. In a nod to 19th century English country gardeners who filled their plots with a mixture of vegetables, herbs and flowers, the modern kitchen garden encourages ornamental plants to grow alongside edibles.

Plant flowers like marigolds and geraniums next to beans to attract pollinators. Add phacelia flowers next to cucumbers and bring bees to the garden with lungwort and brunnera next to your peas.

Some cottage garden ornamentals can also be edible, with plants like polyanthus and violas making a fragrant edible addition to salads and summer drinks.

The goal is to aim for a wide variety of plants that bloom at different times for a garden that not only peaks in midsummer, but remains lush and lush for six months.

3. Choose self-seeding perennials and annuals.

In a style of gardening where function is not sacrificed for form, we place great emphasis on building on the previous year’s work and laying the foundation for the following year.

This means opting for self-seeded annuals (hollyhocks, foxgloves, red eggplants, rudbeckias, verbenas, nasturtiums and delphiniums) and perennials (peonies, columbines, delphiniums, coral bells, perennial blue geraniums and speedwells). .

If you like the look of a wild, rustic country garden, also consider planting lots of wildflowers, starting with blueberries, poppies and sunflowers as centerpieces.

4. Let the beds and borders do double duty as well.

There is no void in a priest’s garden, only a closed sequence. So, when planting your next flower bed or border, pay close attention to the flowering period of each plant: spring bulbs (crocuses, grape hyacinths, tulips and daffodils) are closely followed by summer flowers (such as larkspur, fuchsia, cosmos, foxglove and philadelphia). ). ).

Once these early summer beauties have found their way, the heralds of late summer and fall are hot on their heels, with plants like marigolds, dahlias, mums, rudbeckias, coreopsis and echinacea take center stage.

And just in case you think your cottage garden is fallow in winter, consider adding evergreen shrubs like camellia, viburnum and fragrant osmanthus (fragrant olive). If sheltered from cold winds, these shrubs can be hardy down to about 5F (-15C).

5. Keep it packed and overfilled.

In the priest’s garden, the plants are quietly allowed to drift and occupy the empty spaces. Crowded beds and borders prevent erosion and keep the soil healthy and airy. Plants such as valerian, lupine and clover act as nitrogen fixers.

Just as there is strength in numbers, there is also strength in diversity. And plant rotation leads to a healthier ecosystem that is less susceptible to disease and pests and more attractive to pollinators and beneficial insects. Another advantage of this tight pattern is that there is less need to weed or apply herbicides.

6. Go vertical.

Not only was space limited in the cottage garden, but the small plots of land were often in the shade of the cottage itself. This means that the predominance of vines and vertical growth structures were central to this style from the start.

You can use south-facing structures to build green walls of cascading vines like clematis, honeysuckle, and jasmine.

Another practical option for adding vertical space to a country garden is to introduce structures such as obelisks, arbors and trellises to support the weight of growing plants such as climbing roses and climbing hydrangeas.

7. Select organic shapes and materials.

There are no sharp angles in a priest’s garden and no element disturbs the course of nature. Instead, you’ll find winding paths and rounded corners.

The materials used in the cottage garden reflect the same organic feel; we use unpainted bark chips for mulch; you can opt for slabs and bricks to make paths instead of gravel or concrete tiles; We have chosen terracotta and earthenware planters as perfect substitutes for plastic or cement pots.

8. Favor recycled decorative objects.

The decorative elements of the priest’s garden have the same nostalgic spirit. We can turn bowls and waterers into birdbaths, turn watering cans and colanders into planters, and use old tools (like shovels and spades) as structural elements.

When choosing outdoor furniture for the home garden, keep in mind that the seating area is not a separate outdoor space, but is as much a part of the garden as the plants. We can create small, intimate seating areas with wooden furniture, upcycled tree trunks and pastel floral fabrics.

One of the joys of creating a cottage garden is the fact that East it is believed to be a work in progress. Every year we can introduce new elements, try different combinations of plants and add new climbing structures.

A priest’s garden is never finished. necessarily, and that is one of the beauties and little blessings that make it an ideal style of gardening for the turbulent times in which we live. Knowing that nature takes its time, there is no pressure to get it right. There is only one possibility.

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