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Planting a Cottage Garden


A well-designed cottage garden is a rich tapestry of colours and textures. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t happen by chance; each plant should be carefully chosen for its individual qualities, as well as its overall effect in the garden bed.

When choosing plants for a cottage garden, think of them as different types, each with a special niche in the garden. A well-balanced design will include plants from each of the following groups:

Annuals – These fast-growing colourful plants only last one season, but they’re very good for giving quick cover in new beds, filling in gaps, and adding colour to established beds.


Bulbs – Grow these under deciduous trees or in garden beds. They require little maintenance and will reappear each year.

Herbaceous perennials – These plants die back each winter, then reappear and flower the following spring and summer. They include many of the old-fashioned cottage plants.

Climbers – These can be productive (passionfruit, kiwifruit) or decorative (sweet pea, climbing roses) and are good for screening walls and fences, or used as cover for structures such as arbors or pergolas.

Shrubs – These are good for screening, and many can be clipped into hedges. They provide a framework for larger beds, creating a presence when other plants in the bed die down in winter.

Trees – At least one small-growing tree should be included in the cottage garden. They provide a vertical accent and summer shade. They can be purely decorative (silver birches, crepe myrtles) or productive (small-growing fruit trees).

Once you’ve chosen your main framework plants of perennials, shrubs and trees, also look at how you can include plants from the following groups to give your garden that distinctive cottage garden flavour:

· Scented plants – A cottage garden wouldn’t be completed without scented plants.

· Self-seeding plants – A number of annuals and perennials freely self-seed and help give the garden a natural, slightly wild appearance. They can be a nuisance in more formal, controlled designs.

· Foliage plants – These are excellent as contrasts and as focal points.

· Groundcovers – These may be annual or perennial plants. They are good for filling in gaps, suppressing weeds and softening edges of garden beds and paths.

· Herbs – Many of these useful plants have attractive foliage colours and textures, and are either grown in a separate herb bed or mixed in with ornamental plants.


See www.acsgarden.com and www.hortcourses.com

mixture of colours and textures; both in the foliage and flowers.

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