The Q&A Archives: Cottage Garden

Question: I am a new gardener. I have a decent lawn, thanks to scotts. But my house looks dull and i would like to add a cottage garden, such as those in front of many houses in my area. I want to use a lot of shrubs, flowers, and maybe some trees. I need an idea and design. I dont wish to purchase a book. I would like to use about 7-12 shrubs or trees. Please email me some ideas. I have about a 40 ft long area which is cut into 2/3 on the left and about 1/3 on the right by concrete stairs.

Answer: Unfortunately I am unable to supply you with a custom design. Your library might be able to supply you with a book or two with Cottage Garden style plans and photos from which you could start. You might ask one of your neighbors who is a good gardener to help you, too.

Ultimately, your plant selection will depend on the amount of sunlight your yard recieves and on the amount of work you are willing to put into your garden in terms of maintenance. For a sunny garden, roses, flowering shrubs, clematis and all sorts of bulbs, annuals and perennials would be suitable to a cottage garden. Small flowering trees such as crabapples would also be appropriate. Cottage gardens are traditionally fairly informal and reflect the gardener's personality so you should be able to use plants that you particularly like as long as they will do well in the growing conditions you have -- so there really is no "formula" to give you.

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