Features of an English cottage garden

The proliferation of flowers is the allure of the English cottage garden, which is also called a cottage garden or a country garden. The cottage garden is for avid gardeners because the garden requires much care. The plants of a cottage garden require weeding, pruning, deadheading, watering and other flower garden chores on an almost daily basis. Image above courtesy of CLConroy, morguefile.com.

Why is it called an English cottage garden?

One definition of cottage according to Merriam-Webster is “the dwelling of a farm laborer or small farmer.” The use of “farm” in the definition explains the phrase country garden. Using the term country garden also eliminates the need for garden design to occur next to a cottage. As to the English portion of the phrase, this goes back to the 15th century when English grew an abundance of herbs for medication, cooking and decorating for special events. So, whether you call it an English cottage garden or cottage garden or country garden, the visual appeal and concept is the same. 

What goes into a cottage garden design?

Plants
Annuals flowers, perennial flowers, shrubs, flowering vines and fruit trees can all be a part of a landscape design project to create a cottage garden.

Walkway
A meandering path of mulch, pine needles, stepping-stones or gravel encourages visitors to examine the flowers up close.

Decorative objects
Use landscape objects, such as a bird bath, statue, bridge, gazing ball, or other landscape art, to create focal points. Shown above are stainless steel gazing balls about 6 and 5 inches in diameter that come attached to a stainless steel stake.

Furniture
Well-placed lawn furniture, including table, bench or chair, especially if aged, creates a welcoming location to sit and enjoy the surrounding garden design.
 
Structures
Arbors or arches covered with flowering vines offer a touch of shade in a sunny cottage garden. A picket fence is common with a cottage garden but when space or funds prohibit the use of a fence, go with just a gate or two pillars to create a dramatic entrance to the garden.

Size
The length (left to right) of a cottage garden is limited only by the amount of land space available. The depth (front to back) of the garden is best set to how far you can reach to maintain the plants.

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