The concept of cottage gardens originated in Middle Ages when people grew flowers, herbs and vegetables outside their doors for food, ornamental and medicinal purposes. Today's cottage gardens still maintain the informal, colorful, fragrant characteristics from the past. Choose flowers and herbs that capture your fancy and plant them close together to achieve a whimsical, eclectic effect.
Perennials return year after year, providing structure, interest and texture to the cottage garden.
Yarrow achillea is a summer bloomer with flat-topped flowers in shades of white, yellow, pink and red. Yarrow grows two to five feet tall with foliage that is soft, fernlike and very aromatic. It is wonderful as both a cut and dried flower. Yarrow attracts bees and butterflies.
Coreopsis has a long blooming season. The daisy-like flowers can be pink, yellow or gold and bloom from late spring into fall. The plants grow one to three feet tall atop airy foliage. Coreopsis makes a great cut flower.
Pincushion flower scabiosa is white and lavender and blooms in the summer. The three inch blooms resemble a pincushion and rise one to two feet over the clustered base of gray-green leaves. Scabiosa provides long-lasting cut flowers and attracts bees and other beneficial insects.
Summer Blooming Annuals
Living only for one growing season, annuals add continuous summer color in the gaps between the blooming periods of perennials.
Cosmos have lovely cup-shaped blooms come in shades of red, pink and white. Reaching heights from 12 to 30 inches, the wispy flower spikes make nice a complement to neighboring perennials. Cosmos make excellent cut flowers.
French marigold tagetes range in height from six inches to over three feet. Marigolds have strongly scented yellow-to-orange flowers with ferny, aromatic leaves. They are easy to grow and are an excellent flower for informal arrangements.
Snapdragon antirrhinum grows in every color imaginable except blue. The heights range from four inch dwarf varieties to three-feet tall giants. Always a favorite with children, snapdragons make great cutting flowers.
These useful and beautiful plants can be either annual or perennial. They are grown for their fragrance, seasoning and medicinal properties.
Creeping thyme is a low-growing, aromatic creeper that grows in front of taller plants or as aromatic stepping places within the garden itself. Common thyme grows to about eight inches, has heavily scented leaves and is primarily used as a seasoning. Thyme will survive winters if protected with a cover of mulch.
Dill, parsley and coriander are annual herbs prized for their aromatic feathery foliage and their ability to mingle nicely with flowers in the cottage garden. Heights vary from six to 12 inches.
Sweet basil is a bushy annual with glossy leaves and spikes of flowers. It grows one to two feet high. Basil has many culinary uses and is particularly prized for adding flavor to tomato dishes and to pesto.