Cottage Garden - Peculiarities Of Organization

One of the youngest styles of landscape design, born at the end of the century before last - cottage style. This is such a "young" direction of garden art that sometimes its framework does not seem quite defined yet. Although cottage gardens are some of the simplest and on the structure, and the principle of organization, and the landscaping. In this article we'll look at the basic principles of the cottage garden and tell you why the cottage garden is not a landscape or country garden.

Cottage garden - peculiarities of organization
The cottage garden is not a landscape or country garden. © diningbransonmo


  • What attributes can you identify a cottage garden style?
  • Cottage is neither a landscape garden nor a country garden
  • Three main principles and only three components of a cottage garden
  • Cottage garden plants
  • Individual touches for a cottage garden

What features can you identify a cottage garden style?

Cottage style in landscape design - a direction born and "repelled" from architecture, but not from art and aesthetics.

It is a very practical and solves quite specific problems style, which can safely be called highly specialized. If French, English, Mediterranean, Scandinavian gardens in the Art Nouveau or High-Tech styles are arranged according to your taste, sometimes without being attached to the buildings at all or somehow compensating the lack of interesting elements, the cottage style is used exclusively for the design of areas around cottages.

The cottage garden is a formal and modern landscape style with impeccable appearance of modest, but carefully thought-out plants, which look attractive regardless of the season and purpose of plants.

Large open spaces surrounded by mixborders and arrays, ornamental vegetable gardens and piece-meal vertical accents form the basis of this style - concise, economical in both cost and care required.

The cottage style today is often called "glamorous" or "glossy": a garden decorated in this style is really as if it came off the pages of advertising brochures or periodicals.

Factually, the cottage style is a modern reinterpretation and idealized version of a garden with a vegetable garden by a small house. Even the beds are given a modern neatness, focusing on both practicality and aesthetics.

Cottage garden - peculiarities of organization
Cottage style sitting area is traditionally made in the form of a patio and adjacent to the house. © Ross Phillips

Cottage is neither a landscape garden nor a country garden

There is much confusion in the interpretation of cottage style. The spread of separate styles of landscape design in the design of small gardens near modern cottages led to the fact that the cottage style itself began to be called either English, or Dutch, or just a landscape garden. But they are independent and self-sufficient directions of landscape design, and despite some common features, they have nothing to do with the real cottage garden.

Cottage style - cottage garden - was indeed born in England, but is not a synonym or symbol of English landscape design in general, but rather one of its interesting and vibrant directions.

Cottage style is most often confused with the country garden and the Western country style. Unlike these typically landscape and rely on simplicity, abundance of detail and pastoral trends, cottage style is much more modern and bright. It bets on the brilliance and brightness, creates the illusion of perfection and perfection, does not like carelessness and blurriness in the design, especially in flowery compositions. And in character it is so fundamentally different from the country that by comparison it is quite difficult to confuse them.

Born at the junction of landscape and modern design, cottage style absorbed the most striking and bright solutions to create gardens "as in the picture". "Pure" cottage garden today is considered a great rarity. And above all, because in search of original solutions in the basic cottage style is often added, layered elements of other trends in landscape design or even generalize the term "cottage garden, attributing to it any projects in small houses.

But today the real cottage gardens, the panoramas of which are begging for the pages of glossy magazines, are back in fashion.

Cottage garden - peculiarities of organization
Cottage gardens use simple and well adapted to the local climate cultures of the traditional. © Jayne Penn

The three main principles and only three components of the cottage garden

The cottage style is not accidentally called one of the simplest and most accessible. In this style it is enough to keep in mind a few rules and use common patterns to achieve a spectacular result. In fact, it is organized as a garden interior or garden-living room, playing with the concepts of "home for the garden" and "garden for home".

And if in theory everything may seem complicated, in practice the cottage garden is an idealized landscape, opening opportunities for improvisation, with compacted bright plantings, free space and a cozy atmosphere of colorful perfection.

There are only three main principles in the design of any cottage garden.

  1. Style. The main task - to create a garden "picture", in which everything would be impeccable, well-groomed and neat. The empty soil is not left in such gardens. Even in the organization of the vegetable garden they follow the principle of maximum appeal and fashion
  2. Laconicity . If other styles of landscape design freely flirt with the spatial zoning, geometry, or imitate nature, allocate separate zones, then the cottage garden is very simple. There is no place for a series of flower gardens and flower gardens, complex hidden corners, separate pretentious presented by rest areas. All such a garden - one grand picture and a general "canvas", which is enclosed in a decorative lush frame, emphasizing the free space.
  3. Economy. Cottage gardens are arranged with a minimum number of plants, in a short time and with minimal costs. They use simple and well adapted to the local climate cultures of the traditional, and the area under the ornamental compositions is much less than even in regular gardens. It is a garden in which maximum effect is achieved by minimal means. But the main thing on which they save in the cottage style is maintenance. Such gardens are projects that are easy to look after, maintaining a perfect order.

The organization of cottage gardens is very simple: one common open space surrounded by lush frames and "diluted" with a decorative vegetable garden. But the filling of the garden is guided by very simple principles and rules. All the lush vegetation as if gathered into large frames or groups, compacted around the house and open space.

In cottage style is only three mandatory elements:

  1. Free (or flat) area - open space inside the garden, which traditionally filled only the lawn. Large lawns, which give a feeling of elegance and freedom, are the basis of the garden and its main element, which is played with and emphasized by their surroundings
  2. Mixborders, landscape flower beds and separate "islands" of plants. Plants surround the house and the entrance to the plot as if creating a welcoming bright picture for an unforgettable first impression.

The lawn along the perimeter or only from several sides is surrounded by a lush mixed-board that maintains its attractiveness throughout the year. Bright and colorful, spread over a minimal area, blooming mixborders as if they enclose the garden in a lush frame. They necessarily introduce individual shrubs or trees, arranging the focal point and playing with optical illusions. If the area allows, in the far part of the garden mixborders are replaced by a large landscape flower beds or arrays.

Flowering frame around the lawn does not have to be linear or with a flat edge. It can "crawl" picturesquely onto the lawn, becoming narrower or wider now and then.

Where the picture seems dull or a little flat, individual enlivening accents are placed on the lawn. A small flower bed of annuals or perennials, a single shrub or tree, an ornamental group enliven the overall appearance. Plants in flower beds on the lawn should echo the general mixboard, and shrubs and trees - distinguished by a beautiful silhouette.

  1. Decorative vegetable garden and fruit garden in the cottage style is also mandatory. In such projects, even the beds are decorated as flowerbeds, making the useful also fashionable. A series of identical high beds or ordinary, but surrounded by a beautiful border, they look like the true center of the garden. You can place a decorative vegetable garden both by the house and in the far corner of the garden, and break it up into several parts scattered around the plot. Fruit trees are most often planted in a mixboard or used as decorative plants, but sometimes planted and strict "chess" in one of the corners of the site, combining with beds, flower beds.

Lounge area in the cottage style is traditionally done in the form of patios and adjacent to the house, but in the garden you can provide corners for communicating with nature. A traditional gazebo or an area covered with gravel, bark and comfortable furniture can bring you closer to the beautiful scenery and enjoy the elaborate design of the cottage garden. Swings, sun loungers and benches can also be placed directly on the lawn (provided that the selected grass mixture can withstand heavy loads).

Materials in the cottage garden are traditionally limited to the most "warm" and cozy - brick, wood and stone chips. "Cold" paving of tiles and stone is better replaced by brick paths and gravel paths, but even better in the cottage gardens look neat step paths of modest paving slabs, the gaps between which are filled with lawn or trampling resistant groundcover. Bright flowerbeds, beautiful arches, potted accents and decor accessories are placed here, creating a sense of not only coziness, but also hospitality. The house is literally surrounded by lush frames so that from every room and any angle it seems that it is drowned in lush, almost fairy-tale thickets.

Cottage garden - peculiarities of organization
The lush framing of the house entrance is one of the indicators of a cottage garden. © Ron Adams

Cottage Garden Plants

The main requirement for crops used in cottage style is either maximum utility or maximum brightness and expression. And in the selection of trees, and in the choice of shrubs, and in the search for herbaceous perennials or even annuals adhere to the same principles.

In cottage style looks good old and classic cultures. Plants are mixed with each other by color, height, character, degree of decorativeness in different seasons, creating compacted, "solid", lush and not boring ensembles.

Favorites among the trees to choose simply: in the cottage garden they are used "piece by piece", arranging high focal points. Usually in this style is limited to fruit or useful trees - apples, pears, hazel trees, using them both as a crop, and as decorative and shading elements. Even if you have an area for a large family tree, it is better to give preference to the walnut.

From flowering shrubs cottage garden calls for attention to the classics. The best, time-tested and requiring minimal care - the ideal option. In such gardens, there is no equal to lilac and hibiscus, snowballs, ornamental currant, roses and rose hips, hydrangea and hawthorn. In combination with berry shrubs such "gold classics" gets a completely new sound.

For the cottage garden looked good even in winter, in the design necessarily introduce conifers or other evergreens. Modest accents or fillers, birches, junipers, spruces, thuas, pines can create a skeletal basis for lush compositions.

If the garden lacks "parade" elements or flashy solutions, the task of enriching the vertical structure is solved with supports and flowering vines. In the cottage style only one favorite - arches. But the plants can be chosen according to your taste, although climbing roses are beyond competition here. If you want to decorate a massive pergola or patio structure, a massive pergola, you should think about wisteria, which are very popular in cottage gardens today.

The herbaceous perennials in mixed gardens, plantings around the house and around the lawn should create a feeling of lush colors and baton blossoming from early spring to fall. Particularly good in the cottage style perennials with baskets of inflorescences, but it is better to combine the incompatible, mix plants on the principle of deep contrasts, look for new solutions in size, shape and color of inflorescences.

In such gardens look great rudberries, poppies, phlox, dahlias, chrysanthemums, yarrow, red-leaved plantains, badans, decorative grasses, garden geraniums, sage, lavender, peonies, delphiniums, foxgloves, heleniums and all the classic herbaceous perennials, characterized by endurance and stable decorative qualities.

In the cottage garden, bulbs are the real stars, starting the spring parade and adding charm and sophistication to spring and summer compositions. From crocuses and millet to muskrats, tulips, daffodils - any bulbous crops are appropriate in cottage style.

Whether you need annual plants and whether you will use them, it is better to decide from the beginning. If you want to take care of the cottage garden to a minimum, it is better to be limited to perennial herbaceous plants. They will not give the same effect of an explosion of color, but every year will not need to replant anything. But if you like a classic cottage style, then pay attention to the most large-flowered, sunny and cheerful plants. Sunflowers and mallows, petunias and balsamins, nasturtiums and sparkling sage are absolute favorites.

Cottage garden - peculiarities of organization
An interesting solution is to add some elements of another style to the cottage garden. © Mary Higgins

Individual touches for the cottage garden

The cottage style of landscape design, like the small buildings, cottage buildings and typical architecture, is characterized by a certain "stamped" or artificiality. Simplicity in the design often turns out very unpleasant consequence - the loss of individuality and emotionality. To solve this problem you can either carefully select the color concept and plants, or make personal, revealing taste and character of the owners solutions and accessories.

The easiest way is to add to the cottage garden a few elements of another style. Playing with English or rustic motifs - not only not relevant, but also not too reasonable, because these styles literally "merge" and you can not solve the problem at all. To make the cottage garden more personal, it is worth looking for inspiration in the Mediterranean, Japanese or Scandinavian design, the use of elements from which will be more noticeable.

Add a little expressiveness will help and a variety of nice details - from garden sculptures to wrought iron supports for lianas, hidden by the flower bed corner for rest, a small pond or plants, especially dear to your heart. This is a very "moveable" style that can be constantly transformed, changing the base created to your liking. Using different annuals or changing the color palette of annual accents is one option that allows you to always bring a sense of newness with minimal effort.

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