Flowers to Grow for a Cottage Garden Look
Cottage gardens today take a romantic look backwards for their inspiration from gardens owned by cottagers in the past.
A cottage garden look is a medley of old fashioned style flowering blooms.
A cottage garden is an eclectic styled mix of flowers and plants.
All of the above statements are true, for when people create a cottage style garden they are adding to it their own perceptions of what a 'cottage style garden' means to them.
In the past the cottage look was put together with an atttitude of - the more becomes the merrier in quantity of flowers and types of plants.
Now the use of carefully selected plants, colour blends and a beautiful but slightly random look is achieved deliberately as a style rather than as a necessity.
The look is not one of a restricted colour palette or a contrived and controlled look.
The height of plants in the planting scheme plays an important part in achieving the look of a cottage garden in a flower bed.The tallest plant may be situated at the back of a border or in some cases more towards the centre of the border. The flowers, annuals and perennials will vie for attention as the thrive,mingle and jostle for space.
Some plants such as the perennials will survive and re-appear for many years.
Others such as the annual flowers will flower but one year. However some of the hardier annuals, the type you usually sow where they will grow, may well self-seed. The plant sets seed into the ground around itself and next year the seedling of the original plant will appear like magic. Unless of course you are 'too tidy' and have cleared them away in the early stages of growth thinking they are weed seedlings. If the annual plant has set too many seeds at its feet you can always wait until they are at the right stage and then transplant them to the place that yu wish them to flower. Some annual seedlings may be lost like this but as they are 'free seeds' it will only cost you your time.
Perennials may need to be split from time to time and replanted and repositioned but this is not a job you will have to do every year. Splitting of perennial plants is usually done in the autumn time but it is best to check what is best suited to the plants before you begin to do this. Spliting border perennial plants and replanting them means more plants for free. When postioning them try to put them in a place where they work well with the original plant.
Although cottage gardens may look like a border filled with a random selection of plants and flowers the best cottage garden look will have been achieved by being planted with thought and care about the finished over-all look. Often there will be colour themes within the garden which although they may not be immediately obvious they will be contributing to the overall effect of a cottage garden.
The beauty of Hollyhock flowers, a tall cottage garden plant.
Flowers to consider planting for a cottage garden look -
Hollyhocks. A tall plant that flowers in rich colours and has petals that can be like scrunched up coloured tissue paper with the texture of silk.
Penstemons. Which will bloom through the summer months bring graceful flowers to your border and which should bloom again next year.
Foxgloves. Come in a beautiful array of colours - some decorated with darker spots. A flower that bees love to visit. Do not grow these if your garden is visited by children as the foxglove is poisonous.
Lavender. Grow this in either in a dwarf variety for edging or as a bush planted somewhere that you will enjoy its scent. Near a gate is a good home for lavender, as you brush past it the perfume will be released. The scent of lavender is reminiscent of the past so what could be more ideal in a cottage garden. Bees love this plant it is a favourite of theirs.
Iris. The graceful iris blooms in a wonderful range of jewel like colours it has petals that can be like the texture of velvet or silk, ruffled by a breeze. Iris flowers bloom on strong upright stems, they hold their heads high. Some need to be planted in a certain way and to have the 'roots' baked by the sunshine to thrive and perform at their best. Please check you have the right conditions before investing in them, or trial one or two to begin with.
Allium flowers can add height,colour and interesting shapes to the cottage garden look...
Tall Hollyhock Plants.
Hollyhocks flower in a vast range of colors from pure white through to deep ruby red and there is even a hollyhock that is almost black in color.
Not all the buds on the stems of the hollyhock plant have their flowers open on the same day. Which is good because it lengths the time you have flowers on the plant. However it may mean that you need to tidy up the spent flowers from time to time in order to keep the plant looking at its best.
Hollyhock plants are thought to look their best against a backdrop of a wall or fence. The advantage of growing by a wall is they are partially protected from the wet weather and frost.
Hollyhocks are biennials - they produce leaves in the first year of growing and flower in the second year. They will often last longer than the two years and so can sometimes be considered as short lived perennials.
If you grow Hollyhocks there is a plant disease that you need to be aware of that they can be prone to. This plant diseases is rust and the name describes the appearance of the diseases. It looks like little rusty orange coloured blisters on the leaves. Do not put these deseased hollyhock leaves on the compost heap as it is not worth the risk of spreading it further.
Have some simple shapes like the daisy shape of this osteospermum flower...
Simple flowers - can add vibrant splashes of colour
Marigolds are easy to grow flowers and are colourful.
Marigolds are easy to grow from seeds, so easy that in a couple of years you may find yourself with too many from when they self-seeded. However they are not difficult to transplant or to pull up if they are growing in places that you do not want them to. So try not to be put off by the marigold's tendency for over enthusiasm.
Love in a Mist flowers.
Annual flowers are ideal to form a colourful changing element in your cottage style flower border.
Annuals from seed are inexpensive so are a good way to fill the cottage gardens border until the perennial plants become more established. They are also useful to fill any gaps and provide variety to the image you are creating.
For cottage garden flowers annuals are easy to grow from seed. The ones that self seed or that produce an abundance of seed that can be collected, stored and reused for next summer are ideal.
Flowers, Seasons, Colours - the changing factors in a cottage garden...
In the beginning until you can build up a collection of reliable perennial plants to form the many planting in your cottage style garden use annuals to fill the gaps with colour and variety.
The plants originally found in cottage gardens had to be able to survive without being cosseted.
The people who owned this style of garden would not have had much money to spare to spend on plants. They would have needed a garden that could care for itself at times if they did not have the time.
It is likey that many of the plants that found there way into the original cottage gardens were given or exchanged with friends and neighbours. Seed would be collected from annual flowers and perennial plants would have been split up when they out grew their spaces and re-planted or exchanged with friends and neighbours for new plants. It is possible that a few seeds from the bigger country houses and stately homes may have found their way into nearby cottage gardens.
Part of the interest and excitement of a cottage style garden is that it is an ever changing canvas. Plants flower, they set seed or a dead-headed and may bloom again, one plant comes to the end of its season and another is ready to take its place in the spot-light.
Pansy flowers are easy to grow and come in many colour variations...
a word of caution- when selecting plants for the garden
Some plants are poisonous - with different plants the different parts of the plant are poisonous - seeds are obviously more easily available to misuse than the plant roots. If you are likely to have children visiting the garden please keep this in mind when planting. It is best to research this or get advice. This poison risk could apply to pets using the garden also.
Foxgloves are so do not use in a garden accessible to children and so are aquilegia plants.
Other plants the sap can cause a skin reaction, some making it sensitive to the sun, another fact to consider when planning.
an old fashioned plant... aquilegia which flowers in many lovely colours ...
a blue and white aquilegia - petite variety
the iris family flower in a wonderful range of colours
Iris plants are not just beautiful flowers.
Iris plants that grow from rhizomes and have 'sword shaped' leaves can add to the appearance of the garden even when they are not in flower, especially if you select a variety with variegated leaf color.
One thing that makes iris plants really useful in the garden is that they come in different types and flowering times. So that you can plant iris bulbs or the type of iris that grows from rhizomes.
The rhizome type of iris can be propagated by dividing them and re-planting them if they overgrow the space they are growing in, which is a great way of getting free new plants.
Iris rhizomes should not be planted too deeply in the soil, usually they like to be planted on the surface so that the sun can 'bake' the rhizome and the roots can reach down into the soil to anchor the plant. If they have tall leaves when they are first planted they may 'rock' free of the soil so you might need to find a way of reducing the rocking of the plant in windy locations. There are a couple of ways that people do this, one is to trim back the height of the leaves, neatly, just until the plant becomes established and puts down roots deep enough to anchor it. The other way that sometimes is useful is to weight the rhizome down with a large stone or piece of a brick, do not let this bury the rhizome into the soil, it is really just to anchor it until the plant has established its roots in that place.
select some plants for their interesting shapes as well as for their colours...
When it says annuals on the seed packet what does it mean?
There are seeds for flowers that are classified as 'hardy annuals'. This means that the seeds can be sown directly into the ground where you want them to flower in your garden.
- Annual means they will flower in the year that you sow them but that they will only live for that one year.
Your annual flower seeds only flower for the year sow them in. However it is likely that some will set seed. This is called self-seeding.
A word or two on self-seeded annual flowers.
Self seeded annuals means that the seeds formed when the flowers are pollinated, fall onto the garden soil around the area they are growing and will set seed and grow and flower for next summer.
This does not always happen and some flowers are better at doing this than others. Some flowers do this process so well and are so prolific that you will find yourself removing the extra seedlings you do not want in the garden.
The flowers of self seeded plants may or may not come true to the original parent flower colour.
This means that you may sometimes find some interesting new colours when the bee has visited one colour of flower and then another colour of the same type of flower and 'cross-pollinated it but this does not happen with all flowers.
If you are not happy with the colours that your self-seeded annuals come up in, you can easily remove them. Or bide your time and just pull the heads off (dead head) the colours you do not like when they have finished flowering and before they set seed for the following year.
However nothing can stop the bees from visiting a neighbours colorful flowers and then alighting on yours, thus mixing the 'pot' of colours for future seedlings next year. Although a cottage garden style garden can usually accommodate this mix and blend of colours better than a more formal style of garden.