23 Cottage Gardens That Will Have You Dreaming of Spring

These cozy backyards are the stuff of fairy tales.

When I was in third grade, my aunt bought me a Thomas Kinkade puzzle of a riverside cottage surrounded by a sunlit garden. I probably worked and reworked that puzzle 100 times — or at least until the printed paper started to curl up from the edges of the pieces. That's when my obsession with cottage gardens began.

These days, my childhood fascination hasn't waned, and I often find myself wishing I was sipping coffee and reading a book in one of those Kinkadian havens. (Probably because I live in a second-story apartment with a 3' x 7' balcony.) So, until I get a place of my own, I'll be drooling over dreamy cottage gardens. Keep scrolling to see some of my favorites.

Lilac Pond

Cottage Garden Pond Framed by Lilacs

Cottage Garden Pond Framed by Lilacs

A naturalistic pond is planted with aquatic plants to give the property an authentic cottage garden feel

Photo by: Andrew Grossman

Andrew Grossman

Designer Andrew Grossman carved this charming little pond out of lovely lilacs, water hyacinth and other pond-friendly plants. All that's missing is Christopher Robin with his fishing pole.

Bed Head Backyard

A Cottage Garden's Colorful Planting Palette

A Cottage Garden's Colorful Planting Palette

The flowering plants are primarily pink, white, yellow and blue, a soft palette that complements the natural shingles of the home. Flowering shrubs, roses, perennials, annuals and spring bulbs ensure that the garden is in bloom from March until late fall. Plants like iris, alliums, echinacea, roses and foxglove emphasize the cottage style of this colorful garden.

Photo by: Andrew Grossman

Andrew Grossman

You know those people that wake up looking effortlessly beautiful? This backyard is them in garden form.

A Charming Country Home with Cottage Garden

A Charming Country Home with Cottage Garden

A one hundred and sixty year old cape-style house is surrounded by a charming cottage-style garden. Natural style landscaping compliments the look with climbing roses, catmint and alliums.

Photo by: Andrew Grossman

Andrew Grossman

Same backyard, different view. I love how the climbing roses and rope fence frame the entryway.

See More of This Lovely Cottage

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A Formal Cottage Garden with Gazebo

Climbing pink roses spill over a wood gazebo in this formal cottage garden, framing the entryway towards the shingled home. A simple rope fence intersects the garden and defines the entry garden from the large expanse of lawn framed by silvery lavender Russian sage.

Aquatic Plant Surround a Wetland-Like Pond

Layers of aquatic plants surround a naturalistic wetland pond in this serene cottage garden.

Photo By: Andrew Grossman

Cottage Garden Pond Framed by Lilacs

A naturalistic pond is planted with aquatic plants to give the property an authentic cottage garden feel

Photo By: Andrew Grossman

Formal Cottage Garden with Metal Gazebo

A vibrant purple-flowering vine spills over an antique metal gazebo nestled amongst the verdant plants of a formal cottage-style garden. Planting the garden up against the gazebo helps to soften the structure's edges and creates a cohesive design. The gazebo offers a comfortable vantage point from which to view the wetland-like pond and the rest of the lush cottage garden.

Photo By: Andrew Grossman

A Gravel Pathway Through a Formal Cottage Garden

A casual gravel pathway leads visitors to the home's front door, passing through layered plants in the cottage garden. The soft color palette creates a soothing garden and a welcome entry to the home.

Photo By: Andrew Grossman

A Formal Cottage Garden to Frame the Cape-Style House

The welcoming cottage garden in front of a cape-style home uses a successful mix of colorful plants in a variety of heights and textures. The homes edges are softened with the use of climbing plants, and weathered wood features are continued through the garden to continue the hardscape palette throughout and create a cohesive design.

Photo By: Andrew Grossman

Lush Window Boxes

Wood Window Boxes

Wood Window Boxes

Fixer Upper hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines installed natural wood window boxes adding color to the front of the Gully home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (detail)

From: Fixer Upper

Photo by: Sarah Wilson / Getty Images

Sarah Wilson / Getty Images

No room or time for a full-fledged garden? Hack the cottage look by filling a few barnwood window planters with fluffy cabbage, dusty miller, purple pansies and trailing ivy.

Yellow Roses + White Picket Fences

Martha's Vineyard Charm

Martha's Vineyard Charm

Whether strolling through down-island towns or up-island reservations, its easy to fall in love with beautiful scenery and Martha's Vineyard charm.

Photo by: Provided by Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Provided by Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Beautiful is an understatement. These yellow David Austin roses have me daydreaming of summer afternoons in Martha's Vineyard.

Cozy Nook

Blooming Cottage Style Garden with Blue Covered Bench

Blooming Cottage Style Garden with Blue Covered Bench

A blue bench with a roof cover is a beautiful, simple accent in this cottage garden in bloom.

Photo by: DK - Design Your Garden © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Design Your Garden, 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Imagine curling up to read a book on this blue covered bench at the end of a colorful cottage path.

Fairy-Tale Folly

Garden Turret

Garden Turret

Photo by: DK - Design Your Garden © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Design Your Garden , 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

This rustic garden turret is right at home in a field of magenta foxglove, roses and Russian sage. Oh hey, so am I.

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans

The Baltimore Pimlico Race Course Preakness Stakes winner's garland is formed from black-eyed Susans, so their profusion near the back paddock of this Maryland horse farm is apt.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Graham Landscape Architecture. Photo by Eric Kvalski

Image courtesy of Graham Landscape Architecture. Photo by Eric Kvalski

This dreamy field of blooms is totally reminiscent of Tom Hanks' and Meg Ryan's iconic meet-up at the end of You've Got Mail.

Cottage Curb Appeal

The American Dream

The American Dream

Fulfill the American dream of a house with a white picket fence. Surrounding a white fence with colorful flowers will make your home stand out in the neighborhood.

Looking for an easy curb appeal trick? Plant colorful, bushy blooms and fragrant climbing roses along the outside and inside of your fence line.

Front Porch Sitting

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RMS-robinelise_shabby-porch-container-garden_s3x4

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Who said a cottage garden was restricted to the flower bed?

The Secret Garden

Grow a Secret Garden

Grow a Secret Garden

What could be more magical than a secret garden?

Photo by: Image courtesy of Lynn Coulter

Image courtesy of Lynn Coulter

I imagine Frances Hodgson Burnett would approve of this rose-clad walkway.

An Avian Refuge

Home Garden With Birdhouse

Home Garden With Birdhouse

At HGTV fan chefboston's home, the garden overflows with Shasta daisies, daylilies and other perennials.

Photo by: HGTV fan chefboston

HGTV fan chefboston

If I were a bird, I'd totally live in this field of daisies and lilies.

Ivy-Covered Alcove

Vine-Covered Arched Entryway

Vine-Covered Arched Entryway

Arches covered in creeping fig vines lead to the back entry of this elegant home. A neutral stone patio provides timeless flooring without distracting from the beautiful architectural details of the walkway.

Even though it isn't technically a garden, this greenery-bowered passageway is giving me all the cottage feels.

Beauty Overflowing

Cottage Garden With Flagstone Walkway

Cottage Garden With Flagstone Walkway

For her own front yard, designer Margie Grace of Grace Design Associates Inc. matched the hardscape to her home's architectural syle for a cozy cottage garden. To keep the yard low maintenance she laid a large patio using Arizona flagstones, then filled the rest of the space with lush flower beds. A reclaimed concrete bowl is transformed into a water feature that brings the sound of rain to the garden.

I could spend all day admiring how Grace Design Associates paired mounds of white climbing roses with plant-lined Arizona flagstones.

Rustic Refuge

I'm secretly hoping this garden shed is a she-shed.

Get Inspired: Unique She-Shed Ideas

Hardscape + Landscape

Bucolic Outdoor Space with Masonry and Stone Pavers

Bucolic Outdoor Space with Masonry and Stone Pavers

Using stone pavers and extending the stone wall into the landscape helps embrace the natural beauty of the landscape.

Photo by: 3Sixty

3Sixty

This outdoor space has the best of both worlds: a little bit of garden and a little bit of entertaining space. I'd love to cozy up to that fire pit, too.

Green Thumb

Lawn Chairs in Woods With Green Pillows

Lawn Chairs in Woods With Green Pillows

Sit long enough in these humble wood chairs and the gnomes and fairies may come out to play. The green accent pillows blend perfectly with the lush forest surroundings.

If you spend enough time in this lush green space, you may spot a fairy or two lurking about.

Wistful Wisteria

Brick Pavilion With Wisteria Framed Peaks, Garden and Weathered Gate

Brick Pavilion With Wisteria Framed Peaks, Garden and Weathered Gate

The weathered-finish gate serves both an aesthetic and functional purpose to the space. It creates a dramatic focal point as well as a practical entrance for staging of events. Wisteria frames the peaks of the pavilion, giving it a storybook quality that fits well with the beautiful flower garden and the structure's cottage feel. In an effort to maintain a seamless span, the wooden beams used in the timber frame we hollowed out and reinforced with steel.

Photo by: Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

Want to make your brand-new outdoor structure look like it's been there for ages? Just frame it with some wisteria.

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Brick Pavilion With Wisteria Framed Peaks, Garden and Weathered Gate

The weathered-finish gate serves both an aesthetic and functional purpose to the space. It creates a dramatic focal point as well as a practical entrance for staging of events. Wisteria frames the peaks of the pavilion, giving it a storybook quality that fits well with the beautiful flower garden and the structure's cottage feel. In an effort to maintain a seamless span, the wooden beams used in the timber frame we hollowed out and reinforced with steel.

Gorgeous Brick Pavilion and Water Feature in Sunny Garden With Wisteria and Iron Decor

A peaked pavilion roof lined with wisteria frames the water structure in the back of the garden for a beautiful tunnel view. Lanterns are mounted on the brick columns are practical and perfectly suited to the storybook look. Wrought iron furniture and a glass table offer a relaxing outdoor dining option.

Photo By: Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

Wisteria Framed Garden Pavilion With Lantern Lights Mounted on Brick Columns and Wrought Iron Chairs

Wisteria travels up the brick columns and frames the roof peak of this garden pavilion giving a beautiful fairytale feel to the sunny space. Dark copper lanterns are mounted on the pavilion to provide nighttime lighting without breaking the image of the design. Wrought iron furniture creates a lovely outdoor sitting and dining space.

Photo By: Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

Red Brick Pavilion With Slate Roof, Gravel Walkway and Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture

Thin trees hug the red brick columns of this garden pavilion. A pointed roof shades the stone tile floor and black wrought iron furniture. A gravel walkway leading to the pavilion is framed with a brick border making a clean and organized line against the grass.

Photo By: Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

Whimsical Garden With Brick Water Fountain Structure, Gravel and Concrete Yard Frame and Black Wrought Iron Seating

Thick plant and tree life gives a lush surrounding to this peaceful garden. Brick structures add beautiful red tones against the natural plant colors. A large brick water features several spouts and a pool with concrete topped bench seating. Black wrought iron furniture creates an area to relax and enjoy the scene.

Photo By: Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

Distressed Wooden Garden Gate on Decorative Red Brick Columns With Large Mounted Lanterns

This gorgeous gate is a perfect aesthetic fit to the surrounding cottage garden as well as a functional entrance for the outdoor space. The distressed finish works with the whimsical look. The green shade allows it to be a focal point while still blending with the general color scheme of the natural hues around it.

Photo By: Kenny Collins, The Collins Group, Inc.

The Ultimate Garden Rose

Constance Spry Roses are Key to Cottage Garden

Constance Spry Roses are Key to Cottage Garden

Constance Spry climbing rose is a beautiful rose with magnificent, clear pink blooms of true old rose form. The flowers are exceptionally large, with a strong myrrh fragrance. A key plant for a cottage style garden.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Currently drooling over these Constance Spry climbing roses. Not only do they make a huge, beautiful statement, but they're extra fragrant, too. 

Tea Under the Trellis

Climbing White Rose Covers Cottage Garden Trellis

Climbing White Rose Covers Cottage Garden Trellis

A white wooden trellis supports a white climbing rose in this cottage garden design.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Dripping with white climbing roses and ornamental grasses, this enclosed trellis is the perfect spot to enjoy an afternoon cuppa.

A Place for Friends

Container Topiaries Ideally Suited for Small Space

Container Topiaries Ideally Suited for Small Space

Container-grown trees and shrubs are ideally suited to smaller spaces such as this deck. Twisted topiaries in matching pots frame the seating area alongside an array of flowering shrubs.

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios, 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Topiaries, a sunbrella and good conversation — what more do you need?

Pride and Prejudice 

A Colorful Seaside Garden Frames a Cedar Shingled Home

A Colorful Seaside Garden Frames a Cedar Shingled Home

The coastal, pastoral feel of this seaside garden is emphasized with the soft palette of purple and white plants. Lavender and daisies are combined to create a graceful garden against the grey tones of the weathered stone and wood.

Photo by: Rosemary Fletcher

Rosemary Fletcher

Am I the only one getting major Elizabeth Bennet vibes from this English-inspired garden?

A Fairy-Tale Setting

Intriguing Entry Garden

Intriguing Entry Garden

The entry garden at Carole and Jim McWilliams' suburban home is a picket fence-enclosed room spilling with roses, perennials, annuals and shrubs, making for an inviting entrance.

Photo by: Photo by Ben Rollins

Photo by Ben Rollins

Although it looks like it was plucked right out of a princess movie, this charming abode is actually located in suburban Atlanta. Raise your hand if you'd totally live here. (Raises both arms!)

25 Classic Cottage Garden Flowers

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English Lavender

No cottage garden would feel complete without sweet-smelling lavender. While lavender can be difficult to grow in areas with high humidity, English lavender is less demanding. Give the plants full sun and soil that drains easily. This tall, perennial herb is a good companion for coneflowers (Echinacea) and black-eyed Susans, as well as shorter flowers and herbs.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sweet Pea

Fragrant sweet peas are the mainstay of many cottage gardens. These climbing flowers come in a wide variety of colors and many have intense perfumes. They’re annuals that prefer full sun, although they dislike hot weather and produce their best blooms in early spring. If you live in a hot climate, sow the seeds in fall. Sweet peas are usually trellised, but in a cottage garden, you can allow them to weave around shrubs and tall perennials or train them on a fence.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Heliotrope

Heliotropes, with their vanilla perfumes, can be found in shades of blue, lavender and white. Grow them alongside pink or pale yellow flowers for a soft color combination, or with hot pink or gold blooms for a bold palette. A navy-blue heliotrope variety, ‘Marine’ is especially striking. These spring-blooming annuals need full to part sun.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Daylily

Although their blooms last only one day, daylilies are beautiful additions to any cottage garden. These nearly indestructible plants crave sun, but grow even in less-than-ideal soils. Look for rainbow colors that vary from butter yellow to raspberry pink, maroon, cream, apricot, watermelon red and more. Plant varieties with staggered bloom times to keep the flowers coming until frost. A bonus: daylily clumps can be divided to help increase your cottage garden.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Hollyhock

Drought-resistant hollyhocks add stately charm and bright color to cottage gardens. Tall varieties that grow 8 feet or more can tower over other plants, but shorter varieties that top out around 30 inches are also available. Grown as biennials or short-lived perennials in zones 3 to 8, hollyhocks are beautiful when planted alongside daylilies, delphiniums and sage. Because most hollyhocks are so tall, protect them from strong winds and rain by growing them near a garden shed, gazebo or other structure.

English Daisy

Look closely, and you may spot tiny white flowers popping up through the grass in medieval paintings and old tapestries. English daisies were bred from these flowers, which were low-growing plants native to Europe. Today, English daises have large blooms in single or doubled varieties, and their colors range from white to rose pink or red with yellow centers. Combine these early bloomers with pansies, violas, and other spring flowers; they take full sun to part shade and tolerate average soil.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Larkspur

Carefree larkspurs are easy to grow from seeds. These annuals are best sown in fall, since they don’t fare well once the summer heat arrives, but they self-seed readily to re-appear the next spring. Try them with roses and lavender for a soft color palette and a pleasing mix of flower forms and heights. You’ll find larkspurs in shades of blue and pink as well as white, but you may need to start with fresh seeds after a year or two. Self-sown flowers tend to become drab over time.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Flowering Tobacco

A member of the nightshade family, flowering tobacco is also known as woodland tobacco and jasmine tobacco. The plants’ trumpet-shaped flowers come in pink, white, red and pale green, and are filled with nectar for hungry hummingbirds. Grow this annual with other plants that tolerate sun to partial shade, such as love-in-a-mist or cleome. For more impact, use the tall, airy plants in masses or clumps. Note: the plants are toxic, so avoid growing them near pets or children who might chew on them.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pansies

Hardy pansies, with their cheerful faces, belong in any cottage garden. They prefer cool temperatures, so start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting them, or sow them during the summer for early winter flowers. Pansies are available in more colors than almost any other garden flower. Some varieties have a delicate, light perfume.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Scabiosa

When the wind blooms, scabiosa’s lavender, pink or white blooms often nod on their slender stems. Despite their rather unattractive name—scabiosa may come from a Latin word that refers to scabies, a skin disease that the plants were used to treat—the pretty, delicate flowers are butterfly magnets. The plants prefer full sun and tolerate drought and blossom until frost.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Signet Marigold

Less well-known than the classic French or African marigolds, signet marigolds are small yellow or orange flowers with fine-cut, lacy foliage. They grow 12 to 24 inches high and have a lemony fragrance. Give them a spot with full sun in beds or along paths and walkways. The light, airy foliage combines nicely with violas, nasturtiums and snapdragons. These deer and rabbit-resistant plants can tolerate periods of drought.

Beard Tongue

Sun-loving penstemons are pink, white, lavender, purple, red, or hot pink perennials with contrasting colors in their throats. There are over 200 species of these members of the snapdragon family, and their trumpet-shaped flowers are a valuable source of nectar for many bees. The blooms open in early spring. After the flowers are finished, the foliage makes a good backdrop for plants that bloom later in the season.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cardinal Flower

Hummingbirds and butterflies adore the red, tube-shaped blossoms of lobelia, also known as cardinal flowers. These native perennials thrive in sun to part shade and may need afternoon shade if grown in a hot climate. They prefer moist to wet soil, so try iris, ferns, hostas and astilbe as companion plants. Be cautious of using cardinal flowers around children and pets, since all parts of the plant are poisonous.

Photo By: Image courtesy of East Tennessee Wildflowers

Climbing Roses

Spreading across fences, trellises and pergolas, climbing roses make gorgeous additions to cottage gardens. 'Constance Spry' (pictured), a David Austin climbing rose, produces magnificent, clear pink blooms of true old rose form.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Columbine

Columbine, Aquilegia, is a real treat for gardeners: These spring-bloomers look like two flowers in one and come in an array of colors. The woodland perennial performs best in part shade and well-drained soil.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Lobularia

Lobularia, commonly known as sweet alyssum, makes for perfect groundcovers and borders in cottage gardens. Typically grown as an annual in zones 4- 9, sweet alyssum produces an endless stream of fragrant, tiny white blooms throughout the summer.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

Fountain Grass

Looking for an ornamental grass for your cottage garden? Fountain grass, with tall sprays of foliage topped with fuzzy flowers, will bounce gracefully in gentle breezes and color beautifully throughout the year.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Phlox

Butterflies, birds and hummingbirds find phlox irresistible. Phlox bears spikes of fragrant flowers that come in pink, red, white, purple and more during the summer. Creeping varieties make great flowering groundcovers and border plants.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Foxglove

Where would a cottage or woodland garden be without foxglove? The biennial produces delightful spires of vibrant flowers in early summer. Protect these charmers from the wind and give them light shade and moist, well-drained soil.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Butterfly Bush

The nectar-rich, arching flowers of buddleja are the perfect landing pad for butterflies. Butterfly bushes are known for their fuchsia blooms, but also come in white, purple, red or yellow. Grow the shrub in mass for a striking effect, and don't forget to deadhead to keep the blooms coming until frost.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Iris

With tall, striking leaves and even more dramatic flowers that come in a variety of colors, irises are a cottage garden staple. Plant them behind borders and beds, and remove spent flowers for a bright foliage display throughout the spring.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Peony

Peonies are classics in the cottage garden. These hardy, low-maintenance shrubs keep producing big blooms in a bright range of colors year after year.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Burpee

Hydrangea

Loved for their unique blossoms and bushy habit, hydrangeas are perfect for brightening a shady spot in the cottage garden. Bloom color depends on variety and soil pH: blue flowers appear when planted in more acid soil, and you can expect pink flowers in alkaline soils.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Forget-Me-Not

Romantic forget-me-nots greet gardeners in the spring—their bright blue blooms are often one of the first flowers to pop up. Forget-me-nots prefer moist, well-drained soil with some afternoon shade. Try using them as a flowering groundcover or in front of borders and beds.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Osteospermum

Osteospermum produces an endless display of flowers from early summer to autumn and are great for sunny borders. 'White Pim' has pure white with a pink and grey striped reverse.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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