The Best Cottage Garden Plants

The traditional cottage garden is a mixture of different-colored bright flowers, herbs and vegetables usually packed into a small area, while still maintaining an element of formality through the use of features such as arbors, trellises, paths and gates. The plants you choose for your cottage garden must enhance these elements.

Akebia Quinata or Chocolate Vine

A native, of China, Japan and Korea, this vine has unusual purple-brown flowers with a light aroma of chocolate. The vine blooms in spring, then produces long fleshy fruits. It is a long-lived semi-evergreen that can be used on an arbor, trellis or fence in a cottage garden even when not in bloom. The chocolate vine grows well in partial shade or full sun.

Rosa (Rose Species and Hybrids)

All varieties of roses, including climbing roses, good cottage garden plants. Rose bushes can be combined with other flowers in a sunny garden bed. The foliage adds color when the plant is not in bloom. Climbing roses are suitable for walls and fences and some can be allowed to grow on larger trees or evergreens in a cottage garden.


This perennial looks best when mass-planted in moist soil and light shade. The plant has shiny compound leaves and its flowers are plumes of pink, red, mauve or white. The astilbe blooms from late spring through summer, but spent flowerheads trun a rich brown color, adding interest to your cottage garden during winter months.

Bergenia or Elephant's Ears

This is an excellent evergreen, groundcover plant for a cottage garden. Its large green leaves add color and interest to a cottage garden. The plant blooms from late winter to early spring. The leaves of the plant turn a reddish brown in fall.


Hydrangea is a deciduous bush, meaning it loses its leaves during winter months. However, from July to September, it produces large blooms. Varieties include pink, white and blue. Hydrangea is a long-lived perennial that can be planted in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade.


Wisteria is a fast-growing, long-lived deciduous climber with a spring display of fragrant purple and light pink blooms. The plants can be trained to climb on pergolas or walls, making it an excellent plant for a cottage garden. Wisterias need a warm sheltered site in full sun.

Keywords: grow wisteria, cottage garden, groundcover plant

About this Author

Carmel Perez Snyder is a freelance writer living in Florida. She attended the University of Missouri and has been a journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Oklahoma Gazette, the Amarillo Globe-News, and eHow.