English in origin, the primary function of the cottage gardens was for growing vegetables, fruit and herbs for the home. Most herbs were used for medicinal purposes while the vegetables and fruit were used as a food source. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the use of the cottage garden went from utilitarian to romantic. Today the cottage garden is full of color and variety with a cheerful disorder that is surprisingly contemporary.
For the most authentic look, locate your garden in a sunny area on either side of the path leading to the front or kitchen door. Cottage gardens are typically enclosed in a hedged, fenced or walled area and may extend right up to and even surround the house. The classic charming English cottage garden will contain a tightly packed, random assortment of perennials, annuals and edible plants with a natural-looking path winding through the middle. Use mulch, stones or pavers for the walkway where a permanent one does not exist. The delightful informality of the cottage garden also makes it a perfect place for garden accessories. Be sure to add a bench, sundial, and wind chime, statuary or bird bath.
Another important addition to the cottage garden is a vertical element. Try a climbing rose on an arbor or fence, a honeysuckle, clematis or annual vine on a trellis or obelisk or a climbing hydrangea on a wall. A vertical element is a very important dimension in the cottage garden that will provide structure. Additional welcomed features to the cottage garden include vibrant hanging baskets hung from shepherds’ crooks and window boxes overflowing with color attached to your windowsills, garage or sat atop of a stone or brick wall. Cocoa-lined hayracks and hanging baskets will give a real Victorian look to your garden.