What’s in a cottage garden? They come in all shapes and all sizes, but share one common thread… loads of that sweet cottage charm. We have beautiful breezy sun filled skies here on the East Coast, and one of my favorite activities when the weather cooperates is long leisurely bike rides through the neighborhood. I like to check out what’s blooming around town and see what’s new. It’s like my Pinterest board of “charming exteriors” come to life. What better way to learn what thrives here than to see it first hand at the neighbors cottage — and copy it. Grin. Here’s what I’ve got going on in my cottage style garden.
1. Add seasonal hanging baskets and potted plants.
This is probably one of the easiest ways to add a dose of cottage charm and seasonal color to any garden or patio area. There’s nothing easier than visiting Lowes or your favorite local garden center and bringing home a beautiful prepared hanging basket. Just chuck it on a hook and you are done. Don’t forget to water and read the tag to see if your choice likes to cook in the sun or prefers a bit of shade like me!
Potted plants bring seasonal color to the garden, not to mention curb appeal to the front entry. We’re always after that ever elusive curb appeal around here. Bright spring color wakes up the front entry and will bloom all through the summer. Above, I mixed a pot of pink dahlias with white cascading bacopa. The tiny boxwood stays green year round and I change out the surrounding space with annuals. This spring I chose rainbow petunias.
And don’t forget about planting in the fall. Potted cabbages in chippy pots add interest and texture to the patio. Kale and cabbage stay pretty and green almost entirely through the winter here on the East Coast.
2. A garden gate
Why not replace your existing plain gate with a cottage charmer? I found this one on Etsy and it was made to order for our measurements. I even got to choose between black, cream, and unpainted. We added the chicken wire to prevent Miss Paisley from going on any expeditions around town.
3. Check yard sales for vintage garden furniture
Outdoor furniture is one of my favorite items to hunt for at yardsales and thrift stores. People seem to get rid of it all year long, even when it’s prime season for entertaining outdoors.
I think vintage garden furniture has so much charm and character. I purchased the white table and chairs above at a yardsale for twenty dollars, it just needed a fresh coat of paint. The black chippy chairs were a roadkill find and didn’t need anything but a new home. The bench was another yard sale score.
4. Fill up your garden with flowering trees and shrubs
I like to use flowering trees and shrubs because you get a lot of bang for your buck. We also like to plant annuals and perennials, but if your looking for big color for little effort that comes back season after season flowering trees and shrubs are the way to go.
Azaleas tend to get a bad wrap. They tend to hang on to their dead blooms for a while, but I like them. They’re inexpensive and never fail to welcome spring with their showy blooms each year. We purchased a few last year for under three dollars a plant. But go with what you like. There are so many flowering trees and shrubs to choose from—pick your favorite.
Flowering trees are one of my favorite features to add to a cottage style garden. There are so many beauties to choose from. It’s nice to pick a few that bloom at different times of year, a spring bloomer and a summer bloomer…so there is always something in bloom.
5. Let it grow wild
Not everything needs to be perfectly manicured. Ivy and other vines let go for a while give a casual cottage look.
Let periwinkle, ivy, and vinca fill in large beds. The more space the pretty vines and ground cover take up, the less space there is for weeds to grow.
Be sure to not let ivy grow up into the trees; it will choke them out. The ivy below is in dire need of a haircut!
Farmer Brown says, “The nice thing about gardening is that you can do as much, or as little, as you want. It’s always there waiting for you.”