Cottage gardens have their origins in the more functional gardens of old which incorporated vegetables and herbs added with flowers for decoration. It was an informal design with every square inch being used. Some have said it looked like “a vegetable garden taken over with flowers”. While I do love most of the elements of cottage gardens, I’m really not a fan of the mass of flowers that to me looks like a garden gone wild. But by adding a few elements of traditional cottage style to your garden, you can add the romance of “days gone by” and at the same time maintain the “less weedy” look that I like.
1) Add a White Picket Fence
Few things say “cottage style” more than a white picket fence. In the olden days it was most likely used to keep the farm animals out of the garden, but today it’s more of a design element. You can surround the garden or just use a short section to give that cottage feel. A black wrought iron fence works equally well.
2) How About a Bird Bath
A special place for our feathered friends fits perfectly into the cottage garden. Keep on the look out at garage sales for the perfect bird bath that can be painted and given a new life.
We “inherited” a Victorian style bird bath that was left behind by the previous owners of our house. It needs a new coat of paint, but should be a great addition to our garden. If I get real adventurous, I may even figure out how to add some mosaic tile to bowl.
The bird bath at left is really cute, and look how easy it would be to add to your garden. Just set it on a wooden box or a table.
3) Lots of Color
Cottage gardens are usually filled with old-fashioned flowers. My mother and aunt loved their flower gardens and many favorites for cottage style are ones that I remember seeing in their gardens. Things like iris, daisies, snapdragons, roses, peonies, pansies, delphinium, columbine and hollyhocks.
4) Meandering Garden Paths
One of the best things about cottage gardens is the winding paths that lead you through the garden. I love being able to walk along and look at the newest blooms or sit awhile on a garden bench. I guess that goes back to spending time at my grandmother’s house as a child. They lived on five acres and my grandfather was a gardener. They had wonderful trees to climb in, bushes to hide behind and orchards with fruit trees. I was allowed to pick and eat any fruit I wanted. I think my favorite was the plum tree, but I’m not sure if I loved the plums or if it was being able to use the can nailed to the end of a broom stick to “pick” them.
5) Wicker Furniture
I love the look of wicker furniture. It looks so cozy and homey which is great for cottage style. I like to use it in furniture groupings on the porch, patio or maybe under a gazebo. This is another item you can sometimes pick up at garage sales for a very reasonable price. Wicker is so easy to paint, so if it is worn and has seen better days, it’s not a problem. Spray paint works great to freshen it up. I usually think of wicker that has been painted white, but black is also popular or try a pastel color.
6) Add Vintage Accessories
When decorating inside in the cottage style, vintage and antique items are often used. The same goes for the garden. When decorating a porch, you can use old wooden boxes, tins and wire baskets, either alone or as a container for flowers. Out in the garden, think old rusty watering cans, rusty tools, buckets, bird houses an old garden gate or even an old bicycle.
The most important thing to remember when adding cottage style to your garden is to choose things that you like. Things that will add to a cozy, relaxed feel. You are creating a sanctuary – a calm, quiet place to relax, read a book or just enjoy a few minutes of peace from an otherwise hectic life.