Cozy Cottage Gardens of England

By Mary Ellen Ellis | April 3, 2021
Image by RolfSt
by Mary Ellen Ellis
April 3, 2021

The cottage garden is my dream garden. My first encounter with one was not in England, but it was done in the traditional style and continues to inspire me today. My current home isn’t very suitable for a cottage garden, but one day I hope to plan and grown one. 

My First Cottage Garden

The first time I saw a cottage garden and fell in love with it was in Greenfield Village, an open air museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Henry Ford started Greenfield Village. He brought entire buildings from around Michigan, the U.S. and some from international locations. It’s now a living history village. 

From England, he brought a cottage from the Cotswolds, a region especially famous for its thatch- and tile-roofed homes and classic gardens. The cottage now in Michigan has a beautiful garden, designed to be just like the traditional style. 

A cottage garden is beautiful but also practical. The original purpose was simply to grow food for the family. Peasants used the space they had to the greatest extent, growing herbs, fruit trees, vegetables, and some flowers if possible. Only later did a cottage garden become a style and not a practical use of space

What I Love About Cottage Gardens

That first experience with a cottage garden at Greenfield Village made an impression on me. It’s a less formal style than many gardens, more cheerful and abundant. The plants fill every space, leaving no room for grass and barely room enough for stone walkways. 

Profusions of bright flowers in every color are gathered in masses and clumps. Vines climb a trellis and stone walls. Herbs lend additional blooms and amazing aromas. All of these plants attract native bees and other pollinators. The overall feel of a cottage garden for me is one of comfort, cheer, and coziness. It’s not even remotely stuffy or formal and doesn’t require constant upkeep. It’s supposed to look a little wild. 

Plants for My Future Cottage Garden

One day, when I move to a new location for retirement, I hope to recreate something like the Greenfield Village Cotswolds garden. I’ll look for native species, of course, but some of the plants I know will thrive and look perfect in this dream garden include: 

  • Campanula
  • Delphinium
  • Dill 
  • Foxglove
  • Hollyhock 
  • Lavender
  • Peony
  • Phlox
  • Rose
  • Sweet pea

These are some of the plants I envision, but the best thing about a cottage garden is that the rules are relaxed and anything goes. It’s informal, comfortable, and full of life and color.

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