Classic cottage gardens—like the houses that give them their name—tend to be compact, informal, and highly individualistic. Located close to the front or back
door, traditional examples display a harmonious mix of
annuals, perennials, roses, shrubs, vines—even
vegetables—in neatly tended arrangements designed to
delight, rather than impress.
Follow the Brick Road
Bricks laid in a diagonal herringbone pattern form a curving path dividing two wide borders. A hipped-roof birdhouse draws the eye upward.
A classic rose-covered arbor and meticulously trimmed privet hedge provide architectural structure in a small yard overflowing with pink and purple flowering plants, including lush hydrangeas, old-fashioned garden phlox (foreground), and a wide window box filled with sun-loving annuals.
Made for Shade
Belgian block frames a shade-tolerant border composed of 'Anabelle' hydrangeas, hostas, and ferns.
Under an arching weeping willow, a row of late-flowering pink and white rose of Sharon shrubs—planted closely together to create a privacy screen—gives this late-summer garden romantic appeal.
Favorite cottage-garden perennials—including black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), pink-flowering sedum, and pale-blue delphinium—create a vibrant border around a carefully tended lawn.
Greenery—in plants and painted trim—evokes a sense of tranquility in a cedar-shingled cottage's low-maintenance, cobblestone courtyard.
A Greek Revival dwelling gets a down-to-earth garden that takes the edge off its formality.
A favorite of butterflies, golden Rudbeckia grabs attention in a casual country garden punctuated by a compact Japanese maple, neatly trimmed boxwood, swordlike iris foliage, and a rose-covered arbor. Inorganic elements—from the stonework to the timeworn mailbox and lozenge-shaped window on the back door—add immeasurably to the simple yard's undeniable charms.
A row of hydrangeas makes a bold impact in a narrow patch of land.
My Blue Heaven
Easily grown from seed, 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories twine about a white-picket fence, their heart-shaped foliage providing a visual metaphor of simplicity and contentment.
Splashes of Color
Tall cottage classics like lemon-yellow daisies and fragrant white phlox stand out against the silvered shingles of a cedar-shake outbuilding.
Uniformity Is Boring
In the best cottage gardens, diversty reigns, with a wide range of roses, annuals, perennials, and shrubs sharing the limelight. Here, left to right, hostas, statuesque eupatorium, black-eyed Susans, snowy phlox, and eight-foot-tall hollyhocks (nearly gone to seed) harmonize in the yard of a rose-covered retreat.
Billowing pink hibiscus blossoms greet visitors by the front door.
Limiting the palette to two or three hues—in this case, pink, blue, and cream—keeps the mix harmonious.