Cottage Garden Plants – Perennials Biennials & Bulbs for Cottage Gardens

English cottage gardens have a very romantic feel to them.  The look may seem haphazard but is actually planned. To choose cottage garden plants, think of tall flowering perennials, self seeding annuals and hardy biennials to give your garden just the right look.

A cottage garden has a very distinct style that throws formality out the window.  A couple of aspects of this style of gardening are lots of flowers and dense planting. The beauty of the garden comes from charm and grace rather than ornate and grand structures and design. Many cottage gardens also incorporate edible plants along with flowers as part of the overall design.Cottage Garden Plants Guide - Over 40 perennials, biennials, annuals and bulbs that are perfect for cottage gardens . #cottagegardens #floweringplants

My husband is English and my mother had an Irish background, so I’ve had plenty of exposure to the beauty of the cottage style of gardening and and have planted most of my gardens with this in mind.

Choosing Cottage Garden Plants

While a cottage garden may LOOK somewhat unplanned, it does take some forward thinking about choosing the right plants to get the desired informal look. All types of plants, from annuals to perennials, (and everything in between!) can be candidates for a cottage garden.  Arbors, benches, walls and fences are all part of the look of a cottage garden.  Flowers are meant to interact with the structures.climbing roses on an arbor

Most cottage gardens have an overall floral look to them, even though edible landscaping is increasing in popularity as more and more people are concerned about the quality of fruits and vegetables in stores. Seating areas are a common item in this type of garden.Cottage garden seating area
If your style of gardening is informal, a cottage garden may be just the right look for you. It has less rules to follow since a haphazard look is one of the key elements, so you don’t need to worry about graduations in height, conscious design and spacing concerns. A cottage garden has a haphazard look to it

Advantages of Cottage Gardens

Other than the romantic look of a cottage garden, there are several other benefits as well:Welcome to my garden

  • You can accomplish a nice look on a small budget.
  • Cottage Gardens can be grown in small yards.
  • Changes are easy to make if you change your mind, and can be done quickly.
  • You don’t have to spend your weekends pulling weeds since the dense planting style seems to keep weeds at bay.

Cottage Garden Plants

I’ve divided my list of cottage garden plants into four categories:  perennials, biennials, annuals and bulbs. Try to choose a few of each category to get long lasting color and easy care all season long. I also like to choose shrubby plants, climbing plants (for arbors and mailboxes and fences) and border plants.

Perennials for Cottage GardeningThese perennial flowers for cottage gardens can be planted once and will bloom year after year. hydrangeas and bleeding hearts are two popular choices

The beauty of perennials in a cottage garden is that you plant them once and they continue to flower for years to come.  Perennials also increase as they mature, so they will fill in spaces in your garden spot quickly. The list of perennials seems endless and most will do well in an Cottage Garden.  Some of my favorites are:

Biennials to incorporate in a Cottage GardensBiennials only last two years in a cottage garden but are rampant self seeders. Try foxglove and forget me not

Biennials normally grow for a couple of years and then die back.  One advantage of growing them is that they are normally good self seeders, so once you have some of them, you are likely to have them in years to come. Some of my favorites are:

Annuals for English Style GardensAnnual plants last one year but give lots of color to a cottage garden. Snapdragons, delphiniums and Larkspur are good choices

There is nothing quite like annuals for a show of color in an English style garden. They put all their energy into flowering for one season, so they give instant color and size in your garden quickly. They can easily be grown from seed, as well, so they are an inexpensive way to get a lot of plants. These are my favorite annuals for Cottage Gardens:

  • Sweet Peas
  • Larkspur
  • Zinnias
  • Snapdragon
  • Delphinium
  • Cosmos
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Nasturtium
  • Begonias
  • Verbena
  • Sunflowers
  • Dahlias (can be perennial depending on your zone.) I have to dig them up or replant each here here in zone 7b.

Bulbs to use in a Cottage GardenPlant flowering bulbs in a cottage garden wisely for season long color. Allium, daylilies and gladiolus are great choices

Most bulbs that will grow in traditional gardens also do well in Cottage Gardens.  Generally bulbs are perennials and will return each year. Choose both tall and lower growing varieties to give your garden the haphazard look and choose early, middle and late blooming types to give a long season show of color.

Early Blooming Bulbs:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Crocus
  • Snow Drops
  • Alliums

Late Spring and Summer bloomers:

If you plant a combination of perennials, biennials, bulbs and annuals in your cottage garden, you will have the best of all worlds and a succession of flowering plants from early spring until late into the fall.  What are your favorite cottage garden plants?


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  7 comments for “Cottage Garden Plants – Perennials Biennials & Bulbs for Cottage Gardens

  1. 02/06/2018 at 1:27 pm

    Carol – this post was some great medicine for my winter weary soul. Lots of beautiful eye candy too. Thanks so much!

    • Carol
      02/06/2018 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Joanna. Glad you enjoyed it. I love writing posts like this when the weather is cold like it is here now. Can’t wait for spring! Carol

  2. Michelle
    02/11/2018 at 11:05 pm

    Starting my first flower bed this year, and love the beauty and timeless look of a cottage garden! what an amazing resource to learn about new flowers and start my planning! I will most likely be back with questions 😉

    • Carol
      02/12/2018 at 10:12 am

      Welcome to the gardening world Michelle. I started with one bed and now have 11! You’ll be hooked for sure! Carol

  3. Kristy
    03/29/2018 at 1:41 pm

    This was a great post! I learned about what will really work in my yard and I was able to map out a cottage garden that will provide blooms from spring through summer. Thank you, thank you!!

  4. Sandra Summers
    04/27/2018 at 9:51 pm

    Wonderful reading and great ideas…thank you kindly for taking the time to share!

    • Carol
      04/28/2018 at 11:29 am

      My pleasure Sandra. Glad you enjoyed the post. Carol

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