A cottage garden (or a country garden) may seem simple to plan, with its informal mixture of flowers and plants. However, it takes a lot of planning to create a charming, graceful garden that looks as though it were part of an English home a century or more ago.
Draw a plan of your garden area, to scale. Measure your yard and transfer the areas onto graph paper. Take into consideration which areas are shady or bright, and for how many hours a day. This information will help you choose plants later.
Consider objects in your cottage garden, other than plants. Are there areas where you would like seating? Is there a location for an arbor, water feature, picket fence or pergola? Purchase these items and install them before deciding on plants. Stone walkways also are part of an attractive cottage garden. Keep in mind that older or antique-looking items will mesh better with the cottage garden decor. Use weathered wood when building and look in salvage yards for old metal decorations or hinges that may be used. Gather large stones to make a pond look natural.
Working with your plan, choose plants according to the amount of shade and sun where they will be planted. Mark areas for small, medium and large plants on your plan. Plants should be placed close together so the garden looks as if everything just grew that way, with no effort. Remember that old cottage gardens were not only lovely to look at, but also functional. Some of the plants generally chosen for cottage gardens are herbs, scarlet runner beans, strawberries, fruit trees, dill, blackberries, roses, bachelor buttons, foxglove, hollyhock, feverfew, Johnny jump-ups, violets, pansies, primroses, lily of the valley and lavender. Many cottage gardens have hedging in place of fences. Consider boxwood, hawthorn or elderberry for this purpose.