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Since June is Perennial Garden Month, what better way to celebrate than by creating a Cottage Garden!? This type of garden is one that incorporates the most perennials and you can make one anywhere! The cottage garden is a distinct style that uses informal design, dense plantingsand light and airy perennial plants. They usually look free-flowering and exuberant.
An informal yet extremely effective and stunning look!
Elements of a Cottage Garden
Go Informal: Don’t be afraid to let things GROW! Avoid planting in straight lines or patterns and let the plants just weave through each other! Even plant a creeping phlox or vine and let them cascade over walls and trellises.
Enclose the Garden: Since cottage gardens can be smaller, the look of the surrounding fence can be an important decision! Picket fences and lattice fences are the most popular choice, both supporting flowering vines like clematis, wisteria, and climbing roses.
Look for Softer Plants: A light, romantic, and peaceful feel is the goal of a cottage garden. You can achieve this with pastel colors and light, airy blooms!
Look for Materials with Character: Make your cottage garden an outdoor living space by adding comfy, vintage furniture or natural well-worn materials. Weathered wood fences, arbors and gates are perfect for this!
Keep Soil Healthy: Since cottage gardens traditionally have plant beds that are packed right with plants, a good, rich, organic soil is important in ensuring that the overflowing plants look great and stay healthy! Make sure to incorporate plenty of compost in the soil and cover the soil with mulch (not dyed) to maintain soil moisture, keep temperatures steady, and improve the soil as it breaks down!
Most Importantly…Do What You Love! All of these elements are staples in a cottage garden but the only rule that matters most is that you create something that you’ll love! Plant perennials that you find appealing and add materials you find unique so you can enjoy your cottage garden for years to come!
Perennials for a Cottage Garden
There are so many different perennials that you can use to create your Cottage Garden! Below are a few that you can use to get started.
Yarrow is a classic garden perennial known for its ruggedness and drought tolerance. It works well in a cottage garden and wildflower garden setting with its tall stems of flat bottoms and fern-like foliage! Their flat blooms also pair well next to cone flower like in the picture below!
Plant these long-lived plants to see healthy spikes of lavender-blue flowers! These easy to grow perennials have flowers in shades of purple-blue, pink and white, but have an attractive grey-green foliage that will give your landscape year-round interest and airy bloom that's perfect for a cottage garden!
Ideal for attracting bees and butterflies to your garden, phlox produce very fragrant flowers which will fill your cottage garden with floral aromas. The flowers can vary from blue through to white and pink with large domed heads which last for up to 5 weeks!
These climbers are beautifully scented and ideal for growing over walls, trees and other garden structures. With their white, blue, pink or purple flowers in May and June they are an attractive addition to a cottage garden!
A shrub of incomparable beauty, hydrangeas produce large clusters of pink, blue, or white flowers in early summer! There are 5 different types of hydrangeas:
1- Bigleaf (hydrangra macrophylla):most common type found in the U.S. that include mophead, lacecap, and mountain hydrangeas.
2- Panicle (hydrangea paniculata): cone shaped flower heads, large blooms that start white and turn pink, cold hardy, and smaller/thinner leaves.
3-Smooth (hydrangea arborescens): "wild hydrangeas" that are native to the U.S. and can tolerate hotter climates, have heart shaped/thin leaves, a course texture, and long leaf stems that hold the leaf away from the main stem.
4- Oakleaf (hydrangea quercifolia): leaves have a similar shape to a red oak and is the only hydrangea that has foliage that changes color in the fall.
5- Climbing (hydrangea petiolaris): vines with a unique growing structure and large blooms.
A beautifully ornamental herb, lavender bears fragrant foliage and flowers. The blooms typically appear in shades of violet and white and are wonderful for drying and using in sachets and other craft projects. Because of their tall, flexible blooms, they're the perfect perennial to add to your cottage garden to mingle with other plants!
There are a wealth of geraniums perfect for cottage gardens. Coming in a wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes, perennial geraniums are an extremely diverse group of plants. Do you have small nooks and crannies to fill? There's a geranium for that. Looking for a flowering ground cover to spruce up a shady spot? There’s a geranium for that too! No matter your yard's conditions, you are bound to be happy with the choices you have in perennial geraniums.
Also known as Coneflower, this perennial features has big, bright flowers that appear in late June and keep coming until September! These plants thrive in average soils or hot, dry conditions, shrug off the cold, attract pollinators, are DEER RESISTANT and are equally at home in full sun or partial shade! What's not to love?! Their blooms also last well as cut or dried flowers and the large cone at the heart of the flower head turns black as the seeds mature, adding further interest!