Cottage gardens with their traditional mix of colourful flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs have a nostalgic, romantic appeal. This relaxed, wildlife-friendly style is having a resurgence of popularity, albeit with a modern twist, combining tradition, sustainability, diversity and naturalism.
This is a great style for plant lovers as dense planting that maximises the space is a key feature. Cottage gardens tend to be high maintenance, but you can achieve the look by using traditional favourites such as lavender, roses, flowering shrubs and hardy geraniums and replacing classics such as lupins and delphiniums with more reliable, slug and drought-resistant perennials such as salvia, persicaria, astrantia, echinacea and ornamental grasses. This wider variety of flowering plants will enhance the aesthetic by making it alive with bees and butterflies.
Not looking too controlled or overly designed is the aim – so experiment with plants of different heights and colours, intermingled in a loose untamed way. Let plants like nepeta and erigeron spill over paths, and climbers such as clematis and honeysuckle ramble up structures. Allow self-seeded plants like hollyhocks and fox gloves to pop up randomly.
In terms of the design, aim for large beds with paths leading to different zones, such as cosy seating areas, along with gravel, vegetable and meadow areas, rather than large formal lawns and patios. Edibles such colourful chard, fruit bushes and trees and wigwams of beans mingled with flowering perennials and sweet peas work well. Materials such as brick and gravel used in hard landscaping, and terracotta or zinc planters help create the rustic feel.
And the great thing is this doesn’t have to look too perfect. A bit of distressed paintwork and rough grass will add to the charm!