English Cottage Garden Plan

English cottage garden plan would not be complete without a few traditional features. The beauty in an English cottage garden is informality and simplicity. These features may seem commonplace but they make an English cottage garden plan, once you have your English cottage garden design you can plan for the traditional cottage garden features.

Doors.

When planning a cottage garden it helps if you start from the cottage and work your way out to the boarders. Start with the cottage door. What do you want growing over the door frame? Roses, honeysuckle, wisteria or another cottage climber? The smell will be heavenly wafting into the kitchen and living area. If you choose roses try a thornless variety. Placing a wooden bench or a seating area by the door lets you enjoy the fragrance and the view.

The cottage door should be somewhat rustic. Traditionally the door was simply made of a few long planks of wood put together and painted; if the paint is peeling off so much the better. A solid oak door can be oiled and no cottage door would be complete without a lucky horseshoe turned upside down and nailed to the door so that the luck does not run out. A few tall plants like hollyhocks or foxgloves standing by the front door waiting to greet you when you come home can also be a welcome sight.

Gates.

The main focal points of an English cottage garden plan will be the garden gate and the front door. The garden gate welcomes you to the cottage and it should be rustic but functioning well. If the gates hanging off its hinges…you have taken rustic too far. The cottager always maintained his or her cottage.

The gate will also be part of your boundary. Decide in your English cottage garden plan what size gate you will need. A small one is fine if you just have people coming through it. Or do you need a larger farm gate as well to allow for delivery’s or for a car to park inside your property?

Traditionally a cottage with a hedge surrounding it would have had a simple wood gate painted white. If the walls were made of stone or brick a metal gate would be used made by the local blacksmith or salvaged from the manor house. The cottage gate can sometimes have an archway overflowing with roses or honeysuckle this will give an enchanting look to any entrance; making the passer by want to sneak a peek into the secret garden.

Fences.

In the English countryside fences, walls and hedges were and still are needed to keep out roaming animals they also have the added benefit of providing privacy and you can create quite a paradise inside your garden walls. Fences also create shelter for your garden by reducing punishing winds. What you choose for your English cottage garden plan will largely depend on your location and budget.

Fences are best when they allow about fifty percent of the wind to go through. If budget allows a white picket fence at the front of the cottage works well, less costly hedging can be used for the rest of the fence.

There are many other choices use local wood and create your own rustic fence. To hide utility areas of your garden you can buy a slatted fence with gaps or simply grow a climber over a rustic fence. Iron fences work well and last longer than wooden fences. If you treat the wooden fence use a water based preservative harmless to plants.

Walls.

English cottage gardens with stone walls look beautiful. This type of wall is very expensive but lasts the longest. In England you can find stone walls in areas where stone is plentiful the Cotswolds, Cumbria and Yorkshire are perfect examples. Brick is also used but stone is the most desirable for English cottage garden walls. Old stone walls are great for growing flowers into. If you are building a garden wall use local stone with a colour that you like. Limestone is grey, sandstone is warmer, Cotswold stone is more of a honey blonde colour.

Cotswold stone cottage, wall and farm fence with hedges

Hedges.

In England hedges are the most common type of fence. They take a while to grow and need maintaining; as in trimming once or twice a year, but they are in most people’s budget and they look wonderful.

The most common type of hedge is hawthorn it grows quickly keeps out animals and lets fifty percent of the wind through it. Hedges are one of the best type of boundry in your English cottage garden plan.

Ancient hedges in England can include all kinds of other plants that have grown inside them over the years. They may look a little unruly but that is what makes them magical.

If you are stating from scratch build a temporary fence and grow a hedge alongside of it planting on the sunniest side. Hedging plants to choose from include evergreens such as holly and yew for all round greenery. Beech retains its dead leaves during winter and looks a very attractive copper colour. Privet is another but much more difficult to deal with needing at least three yearly trims. Hawthorn is the easiest but it is not evergreen.

Other hedge plants that can find themselves in Britain’s ancient hedges are hazel, oak, bullace, box, honeysuckle, roses and my particular childhood favourite; berries. So if you are planting a hedge try a few different plants for an enchanting look in your English cottage garden plan.

Pathways

The cottage garden pathway is one of the most charming things about a cottage garden. You will need to decide if the path will lead straight to the front door or will it meander through the garden a little. Then you need to decide how wide the path needs to be. Cottage flowers are meant to overflow into the pathway and you need to plan for that. A good three to four feet (90 cm’s - 1.2 meters) wide will allow for a wheelbarrow, plants and enough space for one or two people to walk together.

You can make a cottage garden pathway out of gravel, brick, wood and stone.If you have a stone cottage, stone paths or stepping stone paths will always look the best. Local cobbles or rocks set well into the concrete look good in stone or coastal cottages.

Wood can get mossy in the wet weather and can be slippery when wet but it looks organic, but it may not be the ideal choice for a principle pathway.

Brick can be laid in interesting patterns like the herringbone pattern and works well especially if the cottage has brick in it also. Some modern building bricks can easily crumble and should be avoided. Look for old brick that can take the damp weather and frost.

Gravel is best for winding pathways you can pour it into difficult to reach spots and the crunch it makes when you walk on it is lovely. When using gravel always use it generously and try to contain it with edging to keep it in place.

One of my favourite cottages in Worcestershire was connected to the manor house with a huge gravel pathway and after horse riding with my friends we would pop over to say hello and I just loved the crunching sound beneath my feet as I walked up to the manor and the cottage.

Cottage garden plants for pathways include lavender, poached egg plant, wallflower, primrose, forget-me-not or any other cottage boarder flowers that you love. Mint or another fragrant herb can be grown into some of the pathway, as you brush past you will release the fragrance.

Container Plants.

Terracotta pots work best with the cottage garden and can be added to break up hedges, frame a door or entryway or just add a focal point. Hanging baskets are new to the cottage garden but work well with cottage flowers tumbling over. Just remember to water them at least once a day in hot weather. Think about containers when you are comming up with your English cottage garden plan.

English cottage and garden in Worcestershire

Structural supports, trellises and garden furnishings.

Your English cottage garden plan can also include pergolas and trellises to create arches for growing climbers. You can buy these or create a rustic one yourself, when they are covered with flowers you will not see the structure underneath. Roses or honeysuckle looks beautiful frothing over the pergolas and you can enjoy the sent if you place a bench underneath for lazing away summer afternoons.

Attracting wildlife.

The cottager encouraged bees, butterfly’s and birds into the cottage garden. Plants for bees and butterfly’s include the butterfly bush and borage. Bird baths and feeders, and fruit trees also bring in the birds. Natural water features will also turn your cottage garden into a wildlife haven. A bee hive is a welcome addition to a cottage garden. No English cottage gareden plan would be complete without some way of attracting bees and buterfly's.

Ponds and natural water features.

Natural water features are preferred so make the most of a natural pond or stream with waterside plants. Iris and hosta love to be by water. The English cottage garden plan should not be complicated and adding a water feature will take more maintenance. The only water feature the cottager may have added would have been a duck pond for the ducks.

Greenhouses and shed’s

The traditional English cottage garden plan would have had a simple shelter for storing the fire logs and outbuildings for livestock suck as a chicken coop or pig sty. The greenhouse came later and is now in most cottage gardens.My Grandma’s garden had a greenhouse with a wooden frame which was painted white, it is much more organic looking than a metal framed greenhouse. Cold frames can be used low on the ground to protect the plants.

Timeless Beauty.

You can add a few ornaments to your cottage garden just make sure they are old. Metal watering cans, old gardening tools and weaved baskets for collecting herbs. Have a look around salvaging yards for anything that might work, an old cart wheel, sun dial, a round stone grinder or old stones for pathways. The tip here is to not overdo it.

Birds eye view.

Have a look at your garden from every angle before you add features and plants to your English cottage garden plan. A good place to look is from your bedroom window if it is high up. Looking down on your garden can help make sense of it all.

The cottage garden reflects the personality of the cottager living there, so, follow the cottage gardener’s tradition…design, plan and plant the garden for you.

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