With its vibrancy and lushness, a cottage garden’s romance may seem like something only attainable in fairy tales and in the English countryside. However, for anyone armed with a plot of land, a little bit of information, and a lot of passion, we believe anyone can create the cottage garden of their dreams.
The concept of cottage gardens originated in England during the 14th century Elizabethan times. The early cottage garden was primarily centered around growing herbs, fruit trees, and vegetables for consumption. Flowers were simply used as ornamentation to make the garden look lusher and prettier. Different cottage garden ideas began to emerge in later years, and new ways and design styles were incorporated. The cottage garden setting was widely romanticized by many because of its nostalgic feeling that resembles the quiet, serene, and fairy-tale-like impression of country living. This informal aesthetic style of gardening caught the heart of garden-lovers and landscape enthusiasts and has now become one of the most well-loved garden design styles.
Cottage Garden Ideas
Here are examples of beautiful cottage garden ideas you can take inspiration from.
Garden with a Focal Point
Although cottage gardens are informal and don’t necessarily need to have a formal structure, a well-designed and pleasing cottage garden does apply the basic design elements needed to achieve visual coherence. Focal points can be in the form of hardscape elements, trees, flowers, or the cottage itself and embrace natural surroundings.
Cottage Garden with Hardscape Elements
Hardscape features make the garden more interesting. Stick to hardscapes that look organic and natural that blend well with the garden. There are so many ways to enhance a cottage garden with hardscape features. You can add a wooden fence, brick stone walls, a bench, a small fountain, or a birdbath.
Image: Annie Spratt | Unsplash
Cottagecore is a wide-ranging aesthetic that was gaining traction before the pandemic and really took off during it. It’s a feeling of coziness, self-sufficiency and a nod to a bygone era. Cottagecore entails the idyllic country lifestyle, which embraces nature and simple organic elements in design and ornamentation. A clear picture of this is a garden just outside of your kitchen where you can grow your herb garden, add some pretty florals, and place old or repurposed furniture under a shade of a tree.
Here are a few ideas for incorporating the Cottagecore aesthetic:
- Start a garden. Whether it’s a till the soil garden, container garden, window garden or a simple flower garden, growing and of itself is a key feature of the Cottagecore life.
- Start an antique China collection (and display it!) Now is the time to finally accept grandma’s China collection and to find a gorgeous well-built hutch to display it.
- Florals, patterns, and textures…. all together. Get that Cottagecore charm by layering up vintage-style fabrics in a mix of prints; you can really never have too many. Think floral bedding with striped accent pillows, ruffles, lace and all the romantic goodness of the English countryside.
Seaside Cottage Garden
Image: Sebastian Staines | Unsplash
Coastal gardens are known for their green, bushy appearance and wild, colorful flowers. You can also create one even if you don’t live near the coasts since most coastal plants will grow as long as the soil is well-drained, with an ample amount of sunlight.
Modern Cottage Garden
Image: Monrovia | Cottages & Bungalows Magazine
While the concept of a cottage garden may conjure up images of whimsy and romance, one can still create that same feeling when working with a modern design style. Bring in the charm of a cottage garden by creating a plant scheme or garden layout. This would be ideal for large garden areas where landscape planning is necessary for the garden to not look overly chaotic. Here you’ll want to plant around hardscapes.
Patio Cottage Garden
Image: Garden Gate Magazine
For compact and limited spaces, create a garden right next to a patio or pathway. Bright, colorful flowers planted along the edge or to define areas. Utilize all available space from root to sky. Hanging and tall plants add visual appeal, a variety of textiles such as an outdoor rug, outdoor pillows, and weatherproofed art, can really make the space feel cozy.
Fairy-Tale Themed Cottage Garden
If you’re looking to create a cottage garden that seems to have come straight from a storybook, you need to carefully plan the flowers you will plant. Opt for a variety of colorful blossoming flowers, shrubs, herbs, and flowering vines. Enchanting gardens have lots of unexpected nooks, crannies, and surprises, too. We love enjoying a space with whimsical seating, birdhouses, creative lighting, and container plants for an excuse to escape into another magical world.
Tips to Create a Beautiful Cottage Garden
While cottage gardens are initially created around a cottage, you don’t need to have a cottage or live in one to have your cottage garden. Unlike formal, ultra planned gardens, cottage gardens are intentionally casual. It is easy to maintain and looks aesthetically pleasing no matter the season.
We’ve outlined a few elements to consider when creating a whimsical outdoor space.
Source: The Art of Doing Stuff
Every great garden patio design must have excellent lighting. This is where far too many people fail in their outdoor design. Just because your home or cottage comes with certain outdoor lighting does not mean you should box yourself in with it. Light and shade are vital elements of your garden. Lighting can produce either a natural or artificial color of light. Typically for a garden patio you want to take advantage of a natural appearance, but it does come down to your personal taste. Lighting around siding, walkways and in conjunction with plants and flowers helps to give off a beautiful, dramatic effect.
Pro Tip: Consider a chandelier installation on your garden patio for a touch of whimsy.
Variety in Vegetation
Variety should be the name of the game for your cottage garden. With the variety of plants and flowers you can choose to plant in your garden, the process can get too overwhelming. Layering in different elements of greenery such as shrubs, trees, flowering bushes, and plant helps bring in additional texture, break up the lighting into interesting patterns, and gives you a more unique appearance.
Plan the overall look that you want for your garden by making a list of the plants you want to include. Considering their blooming season, height, and shrub thickness will help you figure out their appropriate location in your garden.
Your variety of vegetation should not only help differ the texture and maybe bring color into the mix but consider height as well. Plants of small, medium, and tall builds can dramatically increase your outdoor garden potential (not to mention taller vegetation can serve as both fencing and sound buffers).
Create the impression of abundance by layering flowers. Layer them according to their color scheme, height, and quantity. Tall flowers like Perennials should be placed at the back while the shortest ones at the front. Growing flowering vines and climbing roses on archways, fences, and walls also adds texture and character to your garden. Don’t go over the top with layering, and keep it as natural as possible.
Pro Tip: Any surface can serve as the base for your plants! With creative planning, lattices, overhead beams, even walls can serve as the backbone of your vegetation.
Cottage gardens are not only for aesthetic purposes. The idea itself started with having vegetables and herbs right outside the backyard for convenience. Take the time to cultivate a portion of your garden for edible plants. That way, you will have something to reap when harvest season comes. It’s great to have something to look forward to.
Your garden patio design should have a strong form. Even whimsical gardens are elevated with a well-defined form. This helps prevent the landscaping from looking sloppy and the rounded edges and sharp lines become far more pronounced. You can still have ivy running up wooden beams in your garden patio, just keep the ivy trimmed and neat. The idea of garden form is to bring a sense of balance to your garden space – too free flow and it may feel like a jungle.
Yet, you can add interest with curved pathways.
A cottage garden is all about creating an element of exploration. Consider how you are going to navigate your garden and make an interesting layout of your pathways. This trail should be convenient for maintenance purposes and should highlight all your cottage garden plants and flowers.
Add a hedge or a wooden fence
Use hedges or wooden fences to enclose your garden and protect it against animals. Picket fences are also popular among houses with front yard gardens. Fences can support flowering vines, which adds visual appeal to the garden and complements the front façade of your house as well.
Accents and Contrast
There are different ways you can accent your garden patio and add contrast. This can be done with certain plants or decorative accents. Make areas pop with bright throw pillows and rugs against the browns and greens of your plant life. These accent points help bring your patio to life. Here are a few ideas.
Create an Element of Surprise
What makes cottage garden different from other garden styles is that it holds an element of surprise, making it more charming and fairylike. The goal is to create a setting where you feel like you are transported back into a peaceful village somewhere in 14th century England. Achieve this by creating an interesting layout and arrangement of flowers and placing hardscapes on significant corners.
Make it look effortless.
Cottage gardens are meant to look as if they just sprouted there effortlessly and beautifully. Avoid placing plants and flowers in a pot. Don’t overdo it, and keep your ornamentations to a bare minimum.
There are no strict rules in cottage gardening. All you really have to do is work around a certain layout, plant the flowers you want and shower your garden with care and love.