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Garden Style: How to Create a Country Cottage Garden

How to Create a Country Cottage Garden

With the return of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week and fairly reasonable weather on the horizon (well, as reasonable as it gets in Britain) you may be inspired to grab your spade, dust off the mower and transform your garden into a show stopping plot worthy of a Chelsea ‘Best in Show’.

The only problem is knowing where to start! How do you decipher your modern minimalist gardens from the wildflower, country cottage garden and how exactly do you achieve the perfect look? What plants should you use? What sort of layout works best? And then there’s the paving and landscaping!

At Yorkstone Supplies, we’ve put together a definitive guide on how to achieve each garden style, so you can achieve your dream garden in no time…

The Country Cottage Garden

The country cottage garden stirs up images of afternoon tea, romance and relaxing strolls in the evening, with free flowing, heavily packed and wild flowering beds and the opportunity to achieve a whole host of palettes to suit your tastes. Basically, the country cottage garden gives you free reign, there are no hard and fast rules for what you can and can’t do.

A big draw of the cottage garden design is the attractiveness of the planting to wildlife; insects and birds love the variety a cottage border offers. This is particularly beneficial if your garden is part of a family home; kids love creepy crawlies and colourful birds.

Don’t be fooled though, there’s much more to it than adding garden walling, throwing in a load of seeds and hoping for the best! The cottage garden requires plenty of ongoing gardening effort, particularly maintaining and growing plants.

We recommend starting with hard landscaping, preparing your layout, pathways and walling first before you start softening up with planting This gives you the option to ‘test’ different planting schemes in different locations; sometimes trial and error plays a part in individual gardens and what plants  will or won’t work.

Harder landscaping in a cottage garden can be difficult to master in the first few years, as stone work and paving needs time to weather. Thankfully there are a few shortcuts you can take along the way.

Cottage Garden Design Idea

Country Cottage gardens may look out of control, but be warned, they take a hefty amount of maintenance!

The Design

Cottage Gardens need small nooks and crannies to properly set them off, so think about adding visual blocks such as trellis, fenced areas and stone walls, with the aim of taking the eye around the plot and leaving people wanting to ‘explore’.

A good way to achieve this is by splitting your garden into three sections, each division can be staggered to hide some of the features, adding a little bit of intrigue.

A great addition to any wild garden is a meandering path, again adding the sense of exploration and a laid back feel; nothing in a country cottage garden seems to fit a schedule.

Traditionally, cottage gardens are smaller, so consider enclosing the surrounding area with fencing or garden walling, this will also help serve as a backdrop for colourful plant borders.

The Planting

Cottage garden planting is all about creating a sense of informality, with tightly packed beds to create an abundance of colour. Use a mixture of annuals and perennials, with some larger shrubs to create an intriguing planting scheme that works all year round.

Larkspur Delphinium

Delphinium:
Add some lateral interest to your borders with taller plants such as delphiniums and foxgloves. Remember to keep them well protected from wind as both are prone to damage and breaking if not properly placed.

Delphinium:
Add some lateral interest to your borders with taller plants such as delphiniums and foxgloves. Remember to keep them well protected from wind as both are prone to damage and breaking if not properly placed.

Delphinium:
Add some lateral interest to your borders with taller plants such as delphiniums and foxgloves. Remember to keep them well protected from wind as both are prone to damage and breaking if not properly placed.

Foxglove

Foxglove:
Foxgloves are particularly well placed in front of garden walling or fencing as a backdrop sets them off.

Foxglove:
Foxgloves are particularly well placed in front of garden walling or fencing as a backdrop sets them off.

Foxglove:
Foxgloves are particularly well placed in front of garden walling or fencing as a backdrop sets them off.

Lupin

Lupins:
Everyone loves Lupins! Used sparingly, Lupins restore some brief order to cottage planting patterns and draw the eye because of their rigid profile. Keep deadheading your Lupins when two thirds of each flower dies off to keep your cottage garden blooming as long as possible!

Lupins:
Everyone loves Lupins! Used sparingly, Lupins restore some brief order to cottage planting patterns and draw the eye because of their rigid profile. Keep deadheading your Lupins when two thirds of each flower dies off to keep your cottage garden blooming as long as possible!

Lupins:
Everyone loves Lupins! Used sparingly, Lupins restore some brief order to cottage planting patterns and draw the eye because of their rigid profile. Keep deadheading your Lupins when two thirds of each flower dies off to keep your cottage garden blooming as long as possible!

Oxe Eye Daises

Daises:
When using daisies, think about different variations to create more interesting beds; using Oxe-Eye can give a little bit of linear structure for example, whilst Marguerite bushes can quickly fill up larger areas.

Daises:
When using daisies, think about different variations to create more interesting beds; using Oxe-Eye can give a little bit of linear structure for example, whilst Marguerite bushes can quickly fill up larger areas.

Daises:
When using daisies, think about different variations to create more interesting beds; using Oxe-Eye can give a little bit of linear structure for example, whilst Marguerite bushes can quickly fill up larger areas.

Lupin

Geranium:
Easy to grow and extremely tough, Geraniums are one of the most popular plants in Britain and can be found throughout the country. Pair them with a backdrop of white daisies to really ramp up the colour palette of your design.

Geranium:
Easy to grow and extremely tough, Geraniums are one of the most popular plants in Britain and can be found throughout the country. Pair them with a backdrop of white daisies to really ramp up the colour palette of your design.

Geranium:
Easy to grow and extremely tough, Geraniums are one of the most popular plants in Britain and can be found throughout the country. Pair them with a backdrop of white daisies to really ramp up the colour palette of your design.

Lobelia

Lobelia:
Another popular plant found in most gardens in the UK, the Lobelia is cheap to buy, pretty and extremely versatile. We recommend using Lobelia on pathway edges and hanging over walls to blur lines between harder landscaping and softer planting.
Keep Lobelia well watered to ensure maximum effect.

Lobelia:
Another popular plant found in most gardens in the UK, the Lobelia is cheap to buy, pretty and extremely versatile. We recommend using Lobelia on pathway edges and hanging over walls to blur lines between harder landscaping and softer planting.
Keep Lobelia well watered to ensure maximum effect.

Lobelia:
Another popular plant found in most gardens in the UK, the Lobelia is cheap to buy, pretty and extremely versatile. We recommend using Lobelia on pathway edges and hanging over walls to blur lines between harder landscaping and softer planting.
Keep Lobelia well watered to ensure maximum effect.

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The Landscaping

Reclaimed Setts and Tumbled Cobbles

Walkways and paths need to be equally as wild and free as the rest of the garden; cobblestones are a great choice as they allow flowers and grasses to grow between them, adding some rustic charm.

Reclaimed Setts are a great ‘shortcut’ for the cottage garden look as they  are already partially weathered, meaning your garden design will look like it’s already been in place for years.

Tumbled Setts and Pathways

Using reclaimed stone helps to give paths and walling an already weathered look.

Trellis & Arches

The secret to a cottage garden that people love is holding some areas back, that’s where trellis and archways come in. Use trellis and arches, combined with climbers such as roses (the quintessential cottage garden plant!) to effectively split your garden areas, whilst also keeping the free flowing feel of the overall plot.

Trellis Arch with Climbing Plants

Trellis arches help divide cottage gardens, whilst adding a little bit of planting height.

Dressed Walling

Continue the flowing feel of your design by using dressed or dry stone walling. The organic and weathered appearance compliments any type of wildflower borders.

Buff Dry Stone Wall

Bird Baths and Statues

Whilst usually out of place in modern, minimalist designs, garden features such as bird baths and statues add interest, talking points and plenty of charm to the cottage garden. Place a feature deep in heavy borders and taller plants to really set them off.

Cottage Garden Top Tips

  • Start with pathways, paving, walling and fencing to create some semblance of layout before planting
  • Break up the garden with different visuals, anything from large shrubs to garden walling
  • Enclose garden areas if you can; cottage garden planting is really set off when it has a backdrop
  • Use as much colour as you want, but limit palettes to different areas.
  • Repeat planting and plants to tie the whole design together
  • Use taller plants to add interest
  • Add a fun feature such as a bird bath or statue

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