Common Plants and Hardscapes in a 1880 Cottage Garden ?

shines4u(8)July 20, 2004

I just purchased a "workingman's foursquare" home in the heart of Atlanta. The front yard is small and will be adorable with a white picket fence surrounding it and no lawn but just gardens. I have come to love cottage gardens but I also want to remain true to the historical elements that would have been present when this home was occupied in 1887.

Are there a few plants that are a "must"? What type of hardscape materials would have been present as well?

I invision roses, daylilies, lilies, herbs, verbena, gay feather, daisy's etc.

What am I missing?


Here is a link that might be useful: New home

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fori is not pleased

I'm not sure what other plants you need...perhaps peonies? It's going to look wonderful with a cottage garden. You really don't need/have space for much hardscaping. I wonder if stepping stone paths surrounded by low-growing herbs would fit in and be enough of a hardscape. They don't need to be really servicable paths as you can use that great porch to get to the driveway.

I'm afraid I don't have alot of ideas on what would be appropriate plants, but I suspect some of them should be edible!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 8:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have an 1880's landscape book. Unfortunately it is geared for train stations, cemetaries, and what they refer to as "small country estates". (10 acres!) I will look and see if they have any plant lists in the back or not. It has been awhile since I looked at this book.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 9:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
saypoint(6b CT)

Some plants that would have been in use from 1850-1900 are yarrow, aconitum, Acorus calamus, ajuga, hollyhocks, alyssum repens and alyssum saxatile (aurinia), amaranthus, anemone, anthemis, snapdragons, aquilegia canadensis, armeria, aruncus, asclepias tuberosa, sweet woodrugg, asters, baptisia, campanula, daisies, coreopsis, lily of the valley, corydalis crocus, dahlias, datura, delphiniums, dianthus, dicentra, digitalis, epimediums, euphorbia, ferns, gaillardia, , geranium sanguineum, gypsophila, helianthus, hellborus, hosta, hibiscus, hesperis matronalis, iberis, morning glory, iris, kniphofia, liatris, ligularia, lilies, lobelia cardinalis, lupines, maltese cross, malva, miscanthus, bee balm, muscari narcissus, oenothera, peony, poppies, pelargonium, pennisetum, penstemon, perilla, petunias, phlox, platycodon, primula, ranunculus, rudbeckia, salvia, scabiosa, sedum, hens and chickens, silene, goldenrod, stokes aster, meadow rue, thyme, trillium, spiderwort, nasturtium, tulips, verbascum, verbena, veronica, vinca minor, yucca, calla.
For bedding: ageratum, cannas, dusty miller, feverfew, daisies, coleus, elephant ear, gladiolus, lantana, alyssum, pelargonium, salvia, santolina, thyne, vinca rosea, viola.

Japanese Maple, aucuba, barberry, bougainvillea, buddleia, boxwood, beauty-berry, calycanthus, campsis, redbud, quince, clematis, clethra, cornus florida, C. kousa, C. alba, Cotinus, cotoneaster, Scotch broom, daphne, deutzia, erica, euonymus, forsythia, fothergilla, hibiscus, hydrangea, holly, hypericum, itea, jasmine, kerria, mountain laurel, privet, honeysuckle, magnolia, mahonia, malus, wax myrtle, osmanthus, virginia creeper, Pachysandra (after 1882), boston ivy, philadelphus, photinia, physocarpus, pieris, pyracantha, rhododendron, azalea, roses, spirea bumalda, s. prunifolia, s. vanhouttei, stewartia, styrax, lilac, yew, viburnum, weigela, wisteria, yucca.

This is only a partial list, I didn't include plants I'm not very familiar with, or any that would be very large as you say the garden is small. I also didn't screen them for being good for your zone, so you'll have to check them out further.

Read "for every House a Garden" by Rudy and Joy Favretti. It contains good information on plants.
Also, "American Gardens of the Nineteenth Century" by Ann Leighton.

This should get you started, at least.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 9:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you SO much ... that is a wonderful list to start building from.

I appreciate the input!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 11:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found my book, it is Landscape Gardening by Samuel Parsons, Jr. and was published in 1891. There are some flowers not listed above; Yello chamomile, heart-leaved saxifrage, moss pinkrock tunica. There is a chapter on "grandmother's garden" It is an interesting read.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 9:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Barbara_Schwarz(z9 CA)

Lovely little house, but I'm going to go a bit off topic and play old house enthusiast and let you know that your house is more commonly known as a pyramid bungalow. Foursquares are typically known for:

cubish shape
two full stories
hipped roof and front roof dormer
front porch (ranging from wraparounds to simple stoops)
windows usually grouped in pairs
usually four bedrooms

Your little bungalow is one of the early early versions of a bungalow found in many of the kit home catalogs and a very desirable little house. Saypoint gave you a great list to start. i have a list for 1920 so if you would like to go a little later ...drop me a line.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you again for the input ...

Barbara -- I would also be interested in your additions for 1920. That would still be in keeping with the time period I believe. The "feel" anyway!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 9:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Barbara_Schwarz(z9 CA)

Drop me a line at and I'll e-mail you my's on excel so you can sort by color/heirloom/annual/perrenial etc.

Most of the plants in my own 1920's garden are perrenial (don't have much time for gardening and these puppy take care of themselves on the whole) and you will have to check to see if they'll thrive in your zone since I'm down here in sunny California.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 12:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You might want to check out Ryan Gainey's book 'The Well Placed Weed' and even visit his garden (I think it's open often on various garden tours). He grows a lot if not most of what's on the lists above. His gardens are the epitome of southern cottage least I think so. josh

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 6:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
josephine_sc(7/8 Clemson, SC)

My grandmother's house was about that vintage. I can remember what was there when I was a child in the 50's that had probably been there for ages. She two very dwarf cherry trees, a couple of dwarf plums, coreopsis (the plain tall yellow king) canna lilies - Orange (Wyoming I think), red spider lilies, daylilies (of the ditch lily persuasion) a once blooming pale pink running polyantha rose my mother planted as a girl in 1930, iris - she called them "flags"-narcisus - (Avalanche), grape hyacinths (blue bottles)
blue morning glories, raspberry colored crepe myrtles, celosia she called prince's feather,and bachelor buttons she called ragged robins and lantana.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 7:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I saw a book in Barnes & Noble yesterday - and of course have totally forgotten the name of the author, or the title.
It was something like, Garden Restoration (or Restoring Gardens): 1640-1940. I skimmed through it - it's a compendium of all the authentic garden plants that were grown in gardens of that 300-year period.

It had plants for the 19th century, including the Victorian period.

Definitely going to buy it, but not till the next pay day. It was around $35.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2004 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

This item appeared in this week's Gardener's Week column in the Boston Globe - by Carol Stocker.

Shrubs: This is the best time of year to plant them. If you have a restored 19th-century house with period furniture, consider landscaping with some shrubs that were popular in the Victorian era such as flowering quince, enkianthus, deutzia, Harry Lauder's walking stick, PeeGee (Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora), Philadelphus lemoinei or cymosus, Rhododendron catawbiense, Anthony Waterer spirea, Spirea vanhouttei and S. prunifloria plena or old-fashioned purple lilacs.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2004 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The 1880s, heyday of the Victorian era, were annual, annuals, annuals, and tropical foliage plants, the bigger and the more bizarre, the better. They removed all the pre-Victorian fences, installed lawns (for those new lawn-mowers) and cut out shapes in the lawn for annual bedding plants or the tropical foliage plants. The shapes were geometrical and often very intricate.

For good sources for drawings (books and magazines had drawings, not photos yet) seek out the books of Peter Henderson and James Vick. Henderson and Vick were very important seedsmen/nurserymen whose work reflected the most popular styles of the era. They had huge catalog businesses and sold hundreds of thousands of plants and seeds every year.

The Victorian garden was all about rigidity and control over nature. Not loose and naturalistic like a true cottage garden. That would have been thought of as messy and unkempt.

If I may be so bold, you may not like what you see when you see pictures of a true Victorian flower garden. Most people don't. So pick a few of "their" plants and grow a garden you love.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What a charming little house - I'm jealous!
You have had lots of great ideas from everyone. I just wanted an excuse to use my new software, so I did a mock-up of your soon-to-be cottage garden. Hope you like it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Look in the THS album for pictures of Shines4U's house

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 10:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Homemaker --

I LOVE IT! Thanks so much ... you put on the screen much of what I had in my mind. If you want to practice more ... what would the fence look like all the way around .. with a nice arbor over the gate on the left side? Window boxes =) Nice hanging baskets??

I should get you a recent pic so you can see that lovely dogwood!!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Glad you liked it.
Not sure where the gate is on the left side, so I put the arbour at the entrance.
I had a bit of trouble turning the fence, so I apologize for it being crooked. Hope you get the idea.
I also added some windowboxes.
Any more ideas for me to try?

Here is a link that might be useful: Look in the THS album for pictures of Shines4U's house

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 8:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love it! Actually you are really hitting on the whole "feel" I will be going for.

I tell you what ... I will give you a pic of the backyard in progress. We are putting up a fence at the moment. But .. on the slope I am thinking I want to do something involving a natural looking setting with some sort of water feature. A natural looking waterfall type feature?? There will be a gate at the top of the hill and I would like to build on the cinder block stairs someone put in once. Any ideas would be appreciated if you still feel like working with your new SW program!

Hill: I want to terrace the slope - have some natural stairs a water feature and some screening behind what will be the fence. I need a lawn area for the dogs to run and play. I have no idea how I will plant along the fence ... perhaps some grasses and flower gardens. Not sure yet!

Back of house: I am thinking we will put lattice up under the deck and I will grow confederate jasmine up it ... something evergreen. Then who knows. I have a lot of space to work with. =)

Front with the beautiful dogwood!! I can not WAIT to see it in the spring!!

THANK YOU -- really for all your ideas =)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 10:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been having so much fun with this that I had to make you your own album!!
Hope some of these pictures inspire you.
What's nice about doing this, is that I have no preconceived notions of what you want, no budget restrictions, I can plant whatever I like and it will grow!!
Can I change any of the pictures for you? Would you like some more?
It's a lot harder when I try to do my own gardens, since I know all the problems and restrictions ahead of time!
When you start work on these gardens, I hope you will post pictures of your work in progress.

Here is a link that might be useful: Look in the Shines4U album for pictures of your house

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 6:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Homey -

I love it!! Thanks for all the ideas ... you really have helped me see some cool ideas we could use! I appreciate it tons!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2004 at 5:34PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Newbies need help! Garden rehabilitation
Hello! We are Claudia and Ferran, we have just moved...
Ding Yew
My parents have some old yew foundation hedges that...
LARGE overgrown garden... what and when and how?
I saw a few posts similar to mine... bought a house,...
establish new sideyard with perennials I have to divide.
We bought a big lot beside us. We graded it and I do...
Overgrown Garden- tips or hints?
We recently decided to tackle a 40x100 ft section of...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™