Historically, a cottage garden provided sustenance with little thought of flowers. Today it conjures up thoughts of white picket fences, winding pathways, seating areas for quiet refection, old-fashioned flowers and aromatherapy that will never be duplicated in a bottle. At first glance, there appears to be no order to a cottage garden. But on closer inspection, there is plenty of rhyme and reason at play.
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A piece of graph paper and coloured pencils are the starting point to a cottage garden. Draw out the area to scale. As you plant, write down every addition and keep notes of colour, mature size and anticipated flowering times. You want to see colour evenly and consistently, from spring through fall, in your cottage garden.
Every cottage garden needs a few fruit trees. You might want a dwarf cherry tree on one side and a dwarf apple tree at the opposite end of the other side for balance. Plant rue under the trees. Its scent keeps insects away from the fruit.
Ornaments and Furniture
Plan where you want ornaments like bird baths, bird feeders and even a rusty wheel barrow filled with flowers. Pick spots for painted-metal shellback chairs, wicker seating, occasional tables, Adirondack chairs, a swing or hammock. They all need a designated location. Don't forget to add some white picketing fencing in different spots.
Make winding pathways using stone, brick or flagstone throughout your garden. Once laid, thyme planted between the cracks is fragrant touch. If your budget is short, use wood chips to make temporary pathways.
Climbing Roses and Flowering Vines
Install two or three trellises on the outside edges of your garden for climbing roses and flowering vines like morning glories. Or look for an arbor with a bench. Let wood age for a natural look.
Shrubs and Large Plants
Butterfly, lilac, forsythia, honeysuckle and weigela bushes are perfect for a cottage garden. Peonies and bleeding hearts are perennials that both have the potential to grow as large as bushes. Add shrubs like burning bushes to give colour as seasons change.
Before you plant flowers and herbs, plant as many bulbs as your budget allows. Tulips, crocus, daffodils and lilies: all provide early colour.
Perennials and Annuals
Hollyhocks and delphinium grow tall. Plan to have them as back borders. Add ground cover roses, phlox and other perennials into your garden. Fill in with annuals like cosmos, pansies, snapdragons, cornflowers, black-eyed Susans, petunias and marigolds. Many will self-sow. Don't worry if they turn up in unexpected places. It simply adds to the charm.
Plant herbs between your annuals. Place herbs like parsley, chives, sage, rosemary, cilantro, dill and mint within easy each along your pathways.
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