Often it’s easier to explain what a cottage garden isn’t than what it actually is. A cottage garden doesn’t have a plethora of straight lines, defined borders, or a bunch of tidy plants that stay in neat little balls year-round. On the contrary, a cottage garden is usually defined by its soft, curved lines and hazy borders, and it is filled with plants that love to spill and tumble about rather aimlessly. A cottage garden is romantic and airy, like something you’d imagine from the world of Jane Austen.
Because it is hard to define a cottage garden, it can be hard to plan one. Over the years at Fine Gardening we’ve published several insightful articles on the subject, and in this collection you will find the knowledge and inspiration needed to build a cottage garden of your very own. Or you can use the following expert advice to infuse a little romanticism into your existing beds and borders.
This collection starts out with the basics—the elements are essential in a cottage garden. Then authors David Kirchner and Scott Warner take you on a tour of their Cape Cod cottage garden and lay out how you can get the billowy-look without the beds and borders becoming a jumbled mess. If a more traditional perennial bed is more your speed, you can read about how to blend the cottage garden style with a more traditional approach featuring scores of common herbaceous plants.
There are a handful of additional articles that offer invaluable advice on the design process behind creating a cottage garden as well as a few features that touch on which cottage garden plants are must-haves. Finally, you’ll get to read about a wonderful cottage garden designed by a Fine Gardening subscriber who endeavored to build her own small-scale cottage garden in Connecticut. Her space serves as inspiration to anyone questioning whether this dreamy style can be employed in their backyard.