At first glance, a cottage garden appears as an unkempt garden space, when in fact, it is a glorious mix of edible and ornamental plants. Create a cottage garden surrounded by a stone, iron or wood fence. Add arbors at entrances for visual interest. Place trellises and obelisks throughout the garden for climbing plants. Be aware that all objects placed in the cottage garden should fit with the design of the home.
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
Grown in partial to full shade, the bleeding heart plant is perfect for areas shaded by trees, shrubs or walls. Graceful limbs draped with pink or white heart-shaped flowers never fall out of fashion with gardeners. Bleeding heart makes a beautiful addition to any size cottage garden.
European Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)
The foliage alone makes Aquilegia a must have for the cottage garden. Leaves are blue-green and deeply cut. Blooms have the appearance of delicate, downward facing trumpets. Pink, purple or white flowers attract hummingbirds to the garden from early spring through early summer. Aquilegia vulgaris thrives in partial shade and well-drained soil. Plant European Columbine in USDA zones 3 to 9.
Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)
Draw hummingbirds to the cottage garden by planting coral bells. This plant has a mounding habit with a spread of approximately 2 feet. Tiny white, pink or red bell-shaped blooms appear from spring through early summer. These tiny bell-shaped flowers bloom in sprays atop spikes that reach up to 3 feet tall. Heuchera thrives in woodland settings where the soil is consistently moist yet well drained. Grow this woodland plant in the shade cast by larger shrubs or trees. Grow in USDA zones 3 to 8 for best results.
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)
A prolific self-seeding perennial grown as an annual in many areas, Dianthus barbatus attracts butterflies and hummingbirds with fragrant clusters of flowers in varying shades of red and purple. Sweet William prefers a spot with well-drained soil that receives full sunlight. The plant grows between 1 and 2 feet tall. The best USDA planting zones for D. barbatus are 3 to 9. This plant is native to Europe, making it a good choice for gardeners creating an authentic English cottage garden.
Perennial Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Grow wild geranium for a burst of blue-purple color beginning in April and lasting until the weather warms in July. Geranium maculatum prefers full sun and well-drained soil. In warmer zones, this plant does best where it receives partial shade during the hottest part of the day. This geranium grows to a height between 1 and 1 1/2 feet.