Re: Major project - going for cottage garden feel

hyperchickmomMay 31, 2014

We are getting ready for major project in our backyard. retaining wall, steps leading down to yard, a waterfall and small pond. I am hoping for a cottage garden feel. This is a computer rendition of the future design.
What perennials, evergreens, etc. are essentials for cottage garden? Suggestions welcome!
FYI..I requested the flagstone patio have creeping thyme & other stepables in it will not be as shownâ¦but please other suggestions welcomed!!

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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Good morning! What a beautiful plan you have there. While everyone's tastes may vary , I'll tell you what I love. Also do you have a particular color pallate you are drawn to ?

I think an important part of a cottage garden are fluffy airy plants. Also inviting wildlife and birds . Your pond will definitely attract those!
I love plants like coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans for seeds as the flowers mature. Finches love them.
Some great plants that are staples of my gardens are
Liatris , catmint , dianthus , allysum , snow in summer , daisys . Honeysuckle for the fence for sure! Clematis , throw in some roses and you have yourself a cottage garden ! ;) also day lilies.
One thing I am not sure is cottagey but I love are tall grasses. Like zebra grass or pampas grass. I love the way they sound when the wind blows! When we had a pond in Pa , it was surrounded by them.
Good luck ! It sure looks like a great plan ! Please post pics when you get started!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Thanks, Lilyfinch.
I agree, want lots of "fluffy" plants. The designer said the program doesn't allow for every type of plant. She suggested cone flowers, sedum, moonbeam, drift roses, liatris, catmint, shasta daisy, daylily, bee balm. so sounds like we are on right track. I will research few more as per yr suggestion too. So thank you for responding!
One more question..should plants be arranged in sections, or in rows?
I will post some before and after as the job gets going. Very excited! Hopefully we make right choices..this forum is very helpful.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

I don't really use rows , unless that's the look you like. I do repetitive chaos ! Lol I do keep in mind final heights of plants and then I mix them up accordingly . I like plants to be close neighbors , and it works for me. Less room for weeds to grow in between !
Also I personally love to stick in a pallet of pinks , purples , blues and whites. A splash of yellow every once in a while. I think that helps me keep things looking cottagey. You may however love yellow mixed with purples or reds.. There are so many great combos !

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 9:59PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I like large groups of the same type of flower together. A grouping of 3, 5, or 7 plants. For a cottages feel, I'd avoid rows, unless they are used as a border or edge. Plants I think of for cottage gardens are: columbine, foxglove, hollyhocks, sunflowers, lavender, snapdragons, plus those already mentioned. Flowering shrubs and small trees are wonderful in spring, if you have space.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 8:18AM
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A few years ago there was a poster on this forum who suggested planting perennials in groups of three plants set at a diagonal to paths/walkways. My guess is that idea would also work with patios. In any case, I decided I liked the idea, planted my garden beds following his suggestion and now, a few years later when the plants matured, am really happy with the result.

An ornamental grass that would enhance your design and in keeping with the shorter "theme" pictured above is Pennisetum alopecuroides/dwarf fountain grass 'Hameln.' I added a granite garden bench in one of my beds and planted 'Hameln' at either end for textural contrast. I've been quite pleased with the effect. Sorry the photo isn't a close-up.

I don't see any heuchera/coral bells in the computer rendition above. A few H. 'Palace Purple' would help some of the lighter colors "pop." Also, I don't see any columbine in the design. They just seem to say 'cottage garden' to me--I have nearly a dozen plants scattered here and there. Alchemilla mollis/lady's mantle would also add some textural contrast. The patterned foliage of Persicaria virginiana/Virginia knotweed would also offer some unique interest.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 8:48AM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

How exciting. Is the fence/arbor already existing or will that be new too. The waterfall looks so natural. Many years ago I had planted a cottage garden with lots of different varieties of plants, but still with a general "plan". However, after many years it just seemed too loose and carefree for me. We had our fence replaced last year which has allowed me to completely change plans. I've started with a repeating rose. Then I'm clumping groups of plants around the roses. Also have a few shrubs in there. Deutzia 'Nikko' is a nice little white-flowered spring blooming shrub. Also like that in your plan there are some vertical evergreens.

What about some single peonies that don't require staking/maintenance? The plan looks like a lot of lower growing perennials. Some spikes of foxglove, delphinium, gladiolus, etc. might be nice accents here or there. Some other "fluffy" plants are thalictrum. There are some nice lower varieties.
What about some tall obelisks for vines.
My other thought with the redesign of my cottage garden is that some of the area is going to be very orderly, while a couple other areas will be a bit more carefree which will hopefully mix it up a bit. Some order, some chaos which will hopefully give a feel for cottage easy as opposed to cottage formal. Both of which I like!

Is this a full sun garden, or are there shady areas with the trees?
Can't wait to see progress pics!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Martha - Agree to avoid rows..
Gardenweed - interesting suggestion to plants groups of 3 at diagonal. I told my designer I don't like grasses, but I like the one you suggested.Thanks for that!
Thyme2dig - Fence and arbor are existing. We removed an overgrown holly tree and gained over 400 sq ft, that is why this renovation is needed. There are two levels and the retaining wall has to be totally redone.
Here is BEFORE photo:

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 11:35PM
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Cottage style gardens can have the greatest variety of foliage, height, color, type of flower, etc. of any style garden IMO.

I agree with previous posters who recommend planting in groups of 3, 5, or 7, however I also think having a single variety here and there works well. Also a background of trees and shrubs is important for off-season interest.

Cottage gardens should not look too organized IMO!

Some of the plants in my 'cottage' garden are delphinium, roses, Lady's Mantle, Walker's Low catmint, Jacob's Ladder (especially the variegated type), irises, various sedums, liatris, speedwells, pink/red yarrow, blue forget-me-not, various daisies, dianthus, poppies, columbine, fleabane, monkshood, bleeding heart, perennial blue flax, various Asiatic, Oriental, and day lilies, and of course lavender. I like silver foliage plants for contrast and have Artemesia Silver King, Lamb's Ears, and Dusty Miller. I also use various herbs in my perennial garden. Of course I garden in a much colder zone so your plant list will be different. My color scheme is fairly loose altho I prefer purple, pink, blue flowering plants with a few yellow and white for relief. And some reds further out just because!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Definitely tuck in some lilies here and there! A few yrs back I added a bunch of bulbs to a bed close to the house and the scent was overwhelmingly amazing. Takes the garden to a whole new level!!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

That's a lovely style picket fence. I really like how you'll have two elevations in the garden. How nice it's going to be to be able to sit up top and look down on the lower garden and listen to the water.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:55AM
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Yep, controlled chaos for a cottage garden. I need two properties - one for my semi formal garden and one for a cottage style.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:23PM
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Ninkasi(6ish Germany)

I think the suggestion of varying heights and grasses is a good one. And since no one has suggested lupines yet, I will. Lots of color and brings your eye off the ground.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Here is the AFTER photo! Thanks to all suggestions!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:04PM
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It looks fabulous!! Love the 2 person overlook at the top. Looks like you have picked a great selection of perennials too. Great job - now get out there and enjoy it!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:20PM
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    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Oh wow it looks so pretty ! Great job! :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Love it! My son wishes to put a bistro set up above our patio beside our waterfall. Your photo makes me want to rush out and locate a bistro set for my yard.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 1:13PM
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We have a bistro set and a pond but would love to add a waterfall.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Southerngardening...I absolutely LOVE our waterfall. It's a vanishing one the lower area is only a few inches deep. Enough to move and not lay stagnant...but not deep enough to encourage our dogs to go swimming. ;) Well worth the headache it was to put in.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

Hyper chick mom , do you have a pic of the new arbor area if you put one in? I love arbors and love to see them .
Great pond pics ! :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 9:07PM
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Lilyfinchâ¦We had the arbor already. Here is a pic. We widened the beds and added a curvy grass path. To left of arbor we moved my reblooming lilac bush and to the right of arbor, I already had climbing roses that we planted last maybe by next year, they will start climbing over the arbor!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 10:22PM
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such charming gardens, all

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 5:14PM
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