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Flowers to Grow for a Cottage Garden Look

Updated on April 06, 2016

Joined: 7 years agoFollowers: 899Articles: 33

foxglove flowers

Bees love the foxgloves flowers these will add country cottage charm to flower borders
Bees love the foxgloves flowers these will add country cottage charm to flower borders | Source

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.

Hollyhocks add color and height to the cottage garden border display. They can be grown from seed or bought as plug plants or in pots. When grown from seed they flower the second year.
Hollyhocks add color and height to the cottage garden border display. They can be grown from seed or bought as plug plants or in pots. When grown from seed they flower the second year. | Source

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.

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Allium flowers can add height,colour and interesting shapes to the cottage garden look...

Photo: Allium flowers are grown from bulbs. Alliums  come in lots of shapes and colors. Some are tall, while others are smaller.
Photo: Allium flowers are grown from bulbs. Alliums come in lots of shapes and colors. Some are tall, while others are smaller. | Source

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...

Photo: osteospermum flower. This daisy like flower comes in a range of attractive colors and some interesting shapes such as the whirly-gig one.
Photo: osteospermum flower. This daisy like flower comes in a range of attractive colors and some interesting shapes such as the whirly-gig one. | Source

Simple flowers - can add vibrant splashes of colour

Photo: orange marigold. Marigolds will self seed but if they grow in places you do not want them to transplant them or pull them out of the garden. they are a beneficial plant for insects.
Photo: orange marigold. Marigolds will self seed but if they grow in places you do not want them to transplant them or pull them out of the garden. they are a beneficial plant for insects. | Source

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.

This delicate looking flower is called 'Love in a Mist' and it comes in pastel shades and has a light ferny looking foliage.
This delicate looking flower is called 'Love in a Mist' and it comes in pastel shades and has a light ferny looking foliage. | Source

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.

Roses add scent and beauty to the cottage garden.
Roses add scent and beauty to the cottage garden. | Source

Pansy flowers are easy to grow and come in many colour variations...

Photo: pansy flowers are an easy way to add color to a garden. They will grow in flower borders or containers. pansies can be bought as small plants or grown from seed.
Photo: pansy flowers are an easy way to add color to a garden. They will grow in flower borders or containers. pansies can be bought as small plants or grown from seed. | Source

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 ...

Photo: pale pink aquilegia flowers.
Photo: pale pink aquilegia flowers. | Source

a blue and white aquilegia - petite variety

photo: a blue and white aquilegia flower - a very petite variety.
photo: a blue and white aquilegia flower - a very petite variety.

the iris family flower in a wonderful range of colours

Photo: a pretty peach coloured iris with ruffled petal edges.
Photo: a pretty peach coloured iris with ruffled petal edges. | Source

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...

Source

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.

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    • Raimer Gel 2 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your hub. I plan to grow some of those next time.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 2 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you for reading and for leaving a comment here eugbug. The marigolds in the photo grow in my garden and are also (prolific) on my allotment, where they are grown as a useful companion plant to the vegetables. Even though the marigold self seeds readily it is not a nuisance as they are easy to either transplant or to remove and give away. The marigold colour is so bright that they are the first plant I can see as I walk along the pathway to the allotment plot.

    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 2 years ago from Ireland

      Calendula (pot marigold) and foxgloves are very easy to grow from seed. Calendula readily self seed and will grow year after year. Foxgloves are "unfortunately" biennials which don't produce flowers in the first year, but bloom the following year, so you need to be patient!

      Canterbury bells which are also biennials, are easy to grow, producing bell like flowers, similar to foxgloves.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 3 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you it is a pleasure to share photos and information about these flowers.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      Beautiful flowers! This is an informative and useful hub. Thanks for sharing;-)

    • NotTooTall profile image

      NotTooTall 4 years ago from The Land of Pleasant Living

      Hi 2uesday,

      I enjoyed reading your Hub. So many good ideas ~ thanks!

      I got my first Iris last year, and it finally bloomed for me this year, love them. Yours is a really pretty peach color.

      N T T

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you sgbrown that is kind of you, I think we share a love of plants, nature and the countryside and taking photos too.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I would be happy to, just wanted to be sure it was ok with you! I enjoy sharing with my followers! :)

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      hello sgbrown and thank you for visiting this page it would be great if you could put a link to this from your blog thank you.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hello 2uesday! I just loved this hub! I love flowers and have many myself. I also love taking pictures of them! You have some very good pictures here too. I have voted this up and beautiful. :)I would be happy to share this on my blog too, if that is ok with you.

    • hajra 5 years ago

      good

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you davenmidtown for visitin this page and also for voting pleased you liked this. I like the foxgloves too never sure what colour the self-seeded ones will be so waiting to find out is good.

      Hi TattooKitty The iris is a wonderful flower, it comes in a fantastic range of colours. Pleased you enjoyed reading this and the flower photos, thank you.

    • TattooKitty profile image

      TattooKitty 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent info on some very alluring flowers! I love the orange marigold and peach iris blossom- gorgeous!! Thanks for the great read and awesome photos! Voted up!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      What a great hub! The foxglove is one of my favorite flowers. I also love the picture of the water garden in this hub. The lily's that grow in the water are so beautiful... and their seed pods are lovely too. Great hub... voted up and sharing.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you collegatariat, I really find flowering plants tempting to buy and have got to the point where I am running out of space to plant them if I were to buy more.

      I love taking photos of my garden as there is always something new to notice such as a bee emerging from a flower as you take the photo. Thanks for visiting this page and for your comment here too.

    • collegatariat profile image

      collegatariat 5 years ago

      You have such beautiful photographs, and so much helpful information! Your yard must be stunning when everything is in bloom.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you firefly07 yes they do look lovely especially if displayed in old vintage china jugs or vases, my favourite place is an old blue and white willow pattern jug.

    • firefly07 profile image

      firefly07 5 years ago from UK

      What a lovely hub - I love cottage garden plants and they are absolutely perfect for putting in vases around the house.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Hello danfresnourbon - I would find it difficult not to have a place to grow flowers, and fruit and vegetables now. As a child I lived in a place with no garden for 4 years and I remember that missed the garden of my first home even then. Thank you for visiting this page and for the comment too.

    • danfresnourban profile image

      danfresnourban 5 years ago from Fresno, CA

      The flowers are beautiful. Thank you for sharing these images, they make me miss having a backyard and a garden. Great Hub.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you organicrider I like writing about flower gardens and the fruit and vegetables I grow, the flowers are beautiful and the food tasty. I do not use chemicals on the soil or plants in the flower garden or on the fruit and vegetables so I look forward to reading your pages here.

    • organicrider profile image

      organicrider 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Nice writing. I look forward to reading more.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi 2uesday, I love reading your hubs and your photos are beautiful, I love a cottage garden - I could talk to you for hours!!!

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you RTalloni pleased you enjoyed this page. I have been working to sort out the flower borders too. It would be great to share plants would n't it? The plants that survive and thrive really do need dividing and replanting after a few years.

      I am now at the point of dreaming of a bigger garden, to grow all my favourite flowers in and new ones too. I look at plants that I would like to own the way some people look at designer shoes, oh well, I suppose it costs less. Thank you for visiting this page and leaving a lovely comment here too.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Lovely, lovely hub!

      I have lots of splitting to do this year...wish I could share with you! Am looking forward to trying a dwarf lavender.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you pjpinter I hope to add to the gardening hubs over time. I am pleased you liked this.

    • pjinter profile image

      pjinter 6 years ago from Montreal

      Wow! what a great hub. Fantastic photos, wonderful information. Very impressed!

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you Wandah - adding new flowers to the garden is always nice and waiting to see how well they look in the spot you have selected for them. I have been making space for more flowers and am looking forward to sowing new flower seeds next spring too.

    • Wandah profile image

      Wandah 6 years ago

      I love flowers too. I add news ones each year to my garden. Love your posts...

      Best Wanda

    • Rose Kolowinski profile image

      Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago

      The English country gardens are so beautiful. I am trying to get by with all perennials in my gardens but it's a little tough if you want color all season. But well worth the effort! And I am patient. I plant a few more every year and that way I can also see if they are fitting in nicely with the other plants and flowers. Thanks for another great hub, 2uesday!

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you RedElf for visiting and leaving a comment here - pleased you enjoyed this garden hub.

      I agree about the spring flowers - after the snow or cold grey days we get snowdrops and then the colourful burst of crocus and iris flowers in their rich tones. The bulbs planted for the springtime iris flowers are so easy to plant in spaces between other plants, they really are worth growing.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      I love Irises, and all the Spring flowers best of all. Their color is so welcome after the snow, and they are so fleeting. Thanks for this lovely hub.

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you Nell, pleased you liked this. I keep the herbs near the back door of the house as I like rosemary with roast potatoes and mint with new potatoes.

      You are right Digitalis - is the drug they made from foxgloves. I think it would be a good idea if places that sold plants had them lablelled clearly if there is any danger associated to growing them. seed packets mention it sometimes but a clear warning would be good on potted plants. Thank you.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, This is a beautiful hub, and congrats on the great pictures. I love these sort of gardens, and as you said, foxglove is dangerous because it is used in heart medicine, digitalis. I also remember that in the old days they also had a small plot for herbs, which have a lovely smell. great hub and very enjoyable. rated up definitely! thanks nell

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Hi Tammy - oh dear I am sorry about your poor plants. If all the plants were in one planted up arrangement/container- it probably is not your fault. They sell these because they look good together but they might all need different conditions to thrive. If they plant together a plant that likes the shade and damp soil with a plant that likes a sunny place and dry conditions and they are all sharing one container and the same soil- no one could make them thrive for long. Nice to see your comment here, thank you.

    • Tammy Lochmann profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

      Great Ideas...I need something that is hardy and will not die if it is in my presence...I received a beautiful plant with chrysanthemums, gerbera daisies and some green ferns and vines and alas it is dead just that quick...It's sad really I definitely don't have a clue about plants. I will have to get with you next time I get a plant LOL

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Hi Linda - thank you, it always nice to read your encouraging comments.

    • Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

      Hi Tuesday, This is fantastic! I love cottage gardens- they are Mother Nature's fractal- Thumbs up, Linda

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Varenya thank you for your lovely comment on this. The hubs that you write are amazing, so much work going into each one so your compliment is appreciated. Thank you.

    • Varenya profile image

      Varenya 6 years ago

      2uesday, I love the style of your articles, and this one is a masterpiece; the pictures are so beautiful, you grow flowers that are really wonderful!!!

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Overwhelmed never had this many comments at one time before.

      Thank you Micky - my flowers are there to greet me in the spring and summer and I do find happiness in that.

      itakins - hi thank goodness someone else likes random planting, I do not like regimented rows of flowers. I follow the odd number is best if planting bulbs etc.

      Today I found an almost out of date packet of seeds for for very dark coloured poppies - I sprinkled them at the back of the border and am looking forward to seeing how they will look. Although the slugs may find them - then I will never know if they would have flowered as rich a colour as on the packet. Thank you.

      CMHypno - Thank you I agree. I have never had a garden large enough for a tree - I hope my next one will be. I like the little circular seats that fit around trees that would be lovely.

      raisingme - thank you, the dwarf lavenders are nice some with silvery grey foliage. A pretty lavender is the one we call french lavender (in the UK) - I had one called little bee - because the 'petals' on the top looked like a bee.

      D.A.L. Thank you - well the garden is still a work in progress, needs some changes this year. I am a very fond of plants so I sometimes forget the overall picture. Like itakins my planting can be random at times - soon I will need to plant the flowers with a shoehorn to get them into the spaces. :)

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi 2uesday, another great hub well written in your usual unique style. Going off your fantastic pictures your garden must be beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I have been working towards this end in my "new" garden adding to it each year for the past three - I forgot all about lavender until I read this hub! I will be correcting that oversight this weekend. Great hub, Thanks!

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Nice Hub. It's not just the look of a cottage garden that is gorgeous, it is the fragrance of all those old fashioned flowers. And the feeling of peace you get just listening to the wind in the trees and the bees buzzing around the blossoms!

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 6 years ago from Irl

      Gorgeous-I love having an area devoted to cottage garden flowers-I have to admit to being very random in my method of planting:)

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Thank you 2uesday. The pictures are very soothing/pleasing, especially today!

    • 2uesday profile image
      Author

      2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

      Thank you Putz Ballard except for the last flower they all were photographed in my garden. Thank you.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 6 years ago

      I love these flowers and they will make a beautiful garden. Thanks for putting this together.

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