A cottage garden is a beautiful mixture of function and design. It is a useful style that adapts to individual tastes. Cottage gardens evoke visions of small English cottages, white picket fences draped with ivy, roses climbing up trellises and arbors with comfortable benches tucked in a corner. Stone walkways wander through a large variety of plants. The best plants for a cottage garden are easy to grow and perform well without large time investments.
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) is a perennial with bright red flowers blooming throughout the summer. This plant spreads quickly, reaching 24 to 48 inches in height and 24 to 36 inches wide in one season. Hummingbirds love the nectar of the bee balm and are attracted to the brilliant colored blooms. Bee balm is used to produce Earl Grey tea.
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) is a deciduous shrub with long narrow leaves. The tiny flowers are clustered at the ends of the branches in white, pink, red, purple, violet and lavender shades. This shrub grows 15 feet wide. The butterfly bush, as its name suggests, attracts butterflies to your cottage garden. In cold climates, this bush dies back to the roots in winter.
Dahlias (Dahlia hybrids) grow 12 to 60 inches tall depending on the variety. These flowers produce divided green leaves with purple tints. From midsummer through fall, dahlias blossom with large flowers 1 to 8 inches across. These multipetal flowers bloom in nearly every color except true blue. Dahlias are a beautiful cut flower as well.
Dalmatian bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana) is a sprawling, creeping ground flower only 6 to 8 inches tall. This low-growing flower has heart-shaped leaves and bell-shaped, lavender-blue blossoms from late spring to the middle of summer. Dalmatian bellflowers are used to drape over stone walls or creep around large, decorative rocks.
Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) produces brilliant scarlet flower clusters on top of 24 to 36 inch stems. This old-fashioned perennial spreads 12 to 18 inches wide with oval leaves. The maltese cross clumps should be divided every 2 years to keep them producing strongly. They look best when planted in combination with coneflowers and sundrops.
Orange coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida) are summer blooming perennials. Oval, hairy leaves surround stiff stems 18 to 36 inches tall. Dark brown centers are surrounded by yellow-orange daisy petals. Orange coneflowers are heat tolerant and look great planted with other daisies. Orange coneflowers are also known as black-eyed Susans.