How to give your cottage garden the wow factor all year round

1. Pick plants that are doers: robust and tough. In a cottage garden there’s lots of competition for space so you need the plants you put in to hold their own.

2. Expect there to be down times in the garden. This sort of garden is going to look amazing in summer but will have a quiet season in winter. Plant winter and spring bulbs to help give colour through that down time.

3. Don’t forget scents. The full onslaught on your senses wouldn’t be complete without the smells of the cottage garden, try honeysuckles, roses and lavenders.

4. Throw formality out of the window. Try to avoid straight lines either for paths or planted beds. A winding path making its way through the planting is what you’re after.

5. Get the right plant in the right place. Take care to suit the planting to the soil, the light levels and how much water there is. The plants will be happier, and so, you’ll be happier.


1. The most archetypal cottage plants are the spikes and you really can’t do without them: delphiniums, lupins, foxgloves and hollyhocks. Scatter these liberally through the borders.

2. Roses are up there too, they’re absolutely essential for a cottage garden. Use both bush roses and climbers, the more romantic and highly scented the better.

3. What are generally thought of as mediterranean plants, like lavender and rosemary, are very useful in cottage gardens: scented, pretty and often evergreen.

4. Some taller shrubs are useful in the cottage garden to give some weight and height to the planting. One of the best is philadelphus, mock orange, a great summer scented shrub.

5. Don’t forget the bulbs. Outside of the high summer season cottage gardens can be a bit low key, so use bulbs. Go from autumn crocus to winter iris to daffodils and tulips to get colour right through the winter and spring.

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