Updating Traditional Cottage Garden Style for Your Specific Location

Certain styles of gardens are perennially popular around the world. The English cottage garden is one typical example. But achieving a certain style does not mean copying the design exactly, down to the specific plants that you choose. So good design often means updating traditional garden styles with native plants – to make them more appropriate for place while maintaining a similar look and feel.

Many people in the US and elsewhere love the look of a traditional English cottage garden, with its dense and informal flower-filled borders, vegetables and herbs mingled with flowering plants, and roses round the door.

A cottage garden would traditionally have been a predominantly functional space – providing food, medicine and other things for the home while creating a little cheer with easily maintained perennial and self-seeding flowers.

Unfortunately, many looking for a cottage garden look will simply import the plants of an English cottage garden lock, stock and barrel. But non-native species, traditional as they are, may not always be the best choices for your location.

So rather than simply recreating a European garden style with European plants, if you live elsewhere it can often be a good idea to choose native species.

Native flowering plants can often provide just as many yields and be just as beautiful for North American gardens and gardens elsewhere as the traditional flowers of European gardens. In fact, I am sometimes envious of the beautiful native flowers and other plants of North America.

Rather than adding English shrub roses, for example, you might plant native rose types. Rather than growing lavender and hyssop, you might consider Agastache or Salvias in certain places. In place of the foxgloves and daisies, you might have Penstemon digitalis, and Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Asters… There may be a place for some non-invasive non-natives with particular uses – but native plants should form the backbone of the garden.

Even though the plants used may be very different in a cottage garden on one side of the Atlantic than they are on the other, many people can still create the traditional feel and look of a cottage garden with their own native plants.

If you are interested in a design which delivers a specific garden style, such as a cottage garden style, but would like to incorporate native plants wherever you live, I can help you with a layout concept plan, planting plan and plant list to help you make your vision come to life. So please do get in touch.

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