Enjoy Minimally Tamed Wildness in a Cottage Garden

If you luxuriate in lush overgrowth, but still want a central structure to guide your garden walks, a cottage garden might be the choice for you.

Cottage Garden Pathway

Cottage Garden Pathway

2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Garden Design

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

In cottage gardens, abundant planting in rectangular beds placed evenly alongside a center path injects a dash of whimsy into the traditional. Although originally associated with rural locations, cottage garden were actually invented by urban designers in order to balance the stark cityscape with color, scent and a place to grow food. Now found in both types of locations, cottage gardens tend to feature some distrinctive traits.

The scale of cottage gardens is generally intimate, sometimes even restricting movement, as dense planting is allowed to spill across pathways. Self-seeding is encouraged, as are plants that take over gaps in paving. Hedges are frequently used to divide the garden into a series of enclosed spaces with different planting designs and atmospheres. A trademark planting style of cottage gardens is the combination of soft and boldly colored, almost outlandish planting with formal clipped hedges and decorative topiary. Larger yards may also have room for meadow planting and native hedges further from the house.

The most appropriate hard materials for use in cottage gardens are natural stone or brick, with weathered or rescued materials favored for their aged and subtle appearance. Gravel is also used for pathways, partly because it allows easy self-seeding. Simple post and rail or picket fences are also suitable.

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