Developing a Cottage Garden

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cottage garden hc

Henderson County cottage garden
Cottage Garden Storybook

What is a ‘cottage garden’? A cottage garden is a perennial garden of informal design that grows in the space between the lawn and home. The cottage garden provides different flower colors and textures in an informal design. All these flowers will attract pollinators to the landscape also.

Cottage gardens have a long history. In the late 1400s family farmers were finally able to tend their own gardens due to the end of feudalism. Cottage plants were originally kitchen gardens. The main plants were edibles and medicinal plants, including vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees with flowers being of less importance. Eventually, as food began to come from markets instead of backyard gardens, cottage gardens transformed into ornamental flower gardens.

cottage garden

A very simple cottage garden bed.

For some gardeners, myself included, the cottage garden’s greatest appeal is an apparent lack of formal design. However, a minimal design is required to separate the cottage garden from a meadow or woodland garden. With the use of borders, paths, and hardscape the cottage garden takes shape.

Elements of the Cottage Garden 

Plants – perennial border; shrubs; trees; vines; lawn

Hardscape – edging/borders; arbors; walkways; Trellises; bird bath; water feature; sitting areas

Getting Started

design and lay out beds; install borders; till in organic matter; obtain plants; source favorite mulch


Flowers – Agastache, allium, amaranthus, hollyhock, anemone, angelonia, aster, ornamental kale and swiss chard, celosia, chrysanthemum, clematis vine, cleome, smokebush, crocosmia, dahlia, delphinium, echinacea, lilly, poppy, euphorbia, fritillaria, glandularia, hibiscus, ornamental sweet potato, kniphophia, purple hyacinth bean vine, moonflower vine, ornamental gourds, lavendar, sweet pea vine, lupine, lycoris, oxalis, peony, passion flower vine, pennisetum grass, phlox, castor bean, black-eyed susan, salvia, leeks, coleus, goldenrod, thyme, nasturtium, verbena, zinnia

Wildflower seed mix – baby’s breath, dwarf cornflower/bachelor button, five spot, lemon mint, African daisy, sweet alyssum, toadflax, tall cornflower/bachelor button, red corn poppy, lance leaf coreopsis, mixed red poppy, wild cosmos, California poppy, blanketflower, black-eyed susan, wild perennial lupine, purple coneflower, coreopsis, Siberian wallflower, blue flax, scarlet flax, Drummond phlox, sulphur/orange cosmos, gloriosa daisy

cottage garden