What is a Cottage Garden?

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A bit of Cottage Garden history: The cottage garden has its roots in 18th century England. The cottage-dwelling folk relied on their gardens to supply the family's needs, so the cottage garden was practical and productive. It included a variety of plants (and animals!) used for food, medicine, and dyes. The cottager's small plot allowed for no wasted space, so the garden was abundantly packed, yet well-tended. Fences and hedges were often used to keep the livestock out of the vegetables. Cottagers planted what they knew would work, often using plants passed along by neighbors. The contemporary Cottage Garden: Our modern interpretation of this old style takes many forms. There are no hard and fast rules, but a few general principles: • Variety • Abundance • Informality Some might argue that it's not a cottage garden without a fence (or a hedge, or a particular plant, etc.). But this style allows for plenty of interpretation, allowing for differences in climate, surroundings, and ... more
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In a world that is highly connected, where the business of importing and exporting necessities seems routine, it may be tough to imagine a fully self-sufficient lifestyle that was simple and born out of necessity. But these are exactly the conditions it took for the style of plant cultivation known as cottage gardening to form. It was from these beginnings that the modern cottage garden evolved. Throughout history, gardens have been meticulously planned and groomed to be aesthetically pleasing, serving no more purpose than to cause an enjoyable response within the viewer. The exceptions to this rule were the gardens grown by lower class peasantry, who did not live in large estates and did not have room to grow such lavish gardens. "Cottage garden" was a term that originally referred to gardens grown by this class of people for their own daily needs, rather than for enjoyment. In early 18th century England, a movement arose to reform the world of gardening. Proponents of this reform ... more
What do you envision when you hear the term cottage garden? If you're like most American gardeners, you probably conjure up images of thatched-roof stone cottages, hedgerows and quaint English village life. If you live in a suburban split-level bounded by chain-link fence, this fantasy may seem too remote to attempt. It can be liberating to consider what really makes up a cottage garden. Actually, cottage gardens are mostly small, personal, individual, eccentric, spontaneous gardens created by amateurs. Resourceful gardeners look first to native plants, which are hardy and appropriate to the region's style. Does this mean that a cottage garden in Georgia can contain native azaleas (rhododendron canescens) and a pine tree or two? Sure, with the addition of foxgloves, liatris, gaillardias, , butterfly weed, and a host of other cottage garden beauties suitable for the area. If you've been growing flowers and vegetables among the fruit trees and vines, choosing plants because they're ... more
» Cottage_Garden - Hi Clay! Your post literally made me laugh out loud. Thank y Hi Clay! Your post literally made me laugh out loud. Thank you for a great question!!! I am trying to come up with a suitable answer. I'd love to hear lots of impressions of what a cottage garden is supposed to be -- I bet we all have our own interpretation! I think in the pure sense the little caretaker's cottage at Ladieu Topiary Gardens in Monkton MD typifies what many people in this country expect in the idealized and totally quaint "Cottage Garden". Lots of old fashioned flowers, perennials, annuals, roses, vines, shrubs, fruit trees and bushes, herbs for cooking and household and medicinal uses, pots and tubs of flowers, a dear little path -- you get the idea. For some, this has become synonymous with an "English Garden" or perhaps "English Flower Garden", whatever those mean! At home, I like to grow all kinds of plants and have a full profusion of blooming things as much as (well to be truthful, a ... more
Everyone is familiar with the geometrically-trimmed formal garden. A cottage garden is easier to plan and maintain, both for pleasure and for growing a few extra crops. more
I've found that each cottage garden is as different as the people who create them! What's the first thing that comes to "your" mind when the words are spoken?? I want you to grab a piece of paper & a pen, then write down EVERYTHING that comes to your mind when you hear the words "cottage garden." I want to show you how you can have every element you desire in your garden! Take a sneak peek into my thoughts for a moment. When I hear the words "cottage garden," here is what fills my thoughts (in no particular order - typing as they come). Butterflies, birdhouses, picket fences, tall cutting flowers, bird baths & water fountains, goldfish pond, vegetables, herbs, wildflowers, stones & stone walls, architectural elements, bird feeders, hanging baskets, moss, secret paths, arbors, ivy, waddle fences, fuchsias, hummingbirds, roses, trellises, garden benches, porch swings, ferns, wildlife, WOW .... I could think about cottage gardens all day! Now lets take a look at the elements I've ... more

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