Orig­i­nat­ing three cen­turies ago in ru­ral Eng­land, cot­tage gar­dens are typ­i­fied by a pro­fu­sion of flow­ers planted in an in­for­mal, un­con­trived way. Think me­an­der­ing paths and curved flower beds, and al­low plants to cas­cade over the edges of paths, walls and

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Cot­tage gar­dens should have a ro­man­tic feel, so avoid too many brightly coloured flow­ers. Opt in­stead for the faded soft­ness of creams, pale pinks and blues, le­mon, laven­der and lilac. Bal­ance the soft forms of flow­ery plants with some struc­tural plants such as ever­green shrubs or those with lovely fo­liage like astelia or coloured flaxes.



If you se­lect species that like to self-sow (pro­duce seed that eas­ily ger­mi­nates and pro­duces new plants) you will soon have plenty of flow­ers to fill your gar­den beds. Good self­seed­ers in­clude alyssum, aqui­le­gia,

Cal­i­for­nia poppy, cal­en­dula, cineraria,

di­etes, helle­borus, lo­belia and vi­ola.

Help na­ture along by scat­ter­ing seed in ar­eas you’d like to fill with more plants.



Use nat­u­ral or vin­tage ma­te­ri­als and ac­ces­sories such as stone, re­cy­cled bricks, fur­ni­ture with dis­tressed paint­work, wicker chairs, rusted metal arch­ways and urns. Avoid match­ing sets of any­thing. The cot­tage-gar­den look should be re­laxed and laid­back. Add crafted touches with hand­made em­broi­dered cush­ions on out­door fur­ni­ture like the flow­ery ones in the Clax­tons’ gar­den.



Coun­ter­bal­ance the soft, loose shapes of cot­tage flow­ers with metal or painted tim­ber obelisks, pyra­mi­dal conifers, ar­bours and wooden per­go­las. Go for bird­baths, sim­ple ponds and foun­tains rather than con­tem­po­rary wa­ter fea­tures.



No cot­tage gar­den would be com­plete without at least one flow­er­ing climber thread­ing its way around the ve­ran­dah, per­gola or over the gar­den shed. There are hun­dreds of gor­geous climbers, but for that tra­di­tional look, you can’t beat roses such as ‘Dublin Bay’ or ‘Wed­ding Day’. Ever­green climber op­tions in­clude our na­tive clema­tis

(Clema­tis pan­ic­u­lata), or the scented

azores jas­mine (Jas­minum azoricum) and ever-pop­u­lar star jas­mine.



Choose con­tain­ers made of weath­ered and/or mossy con­crete or ter­ra­cotta, soft pas­tel-coloured ce­ramic glazes, dis­tressed painted metal or tim­ber. Fill them with gera­ni­ums,

alyssum, pan­sies and other tra­di­tional cot­tage flow­ers.

1 Laven­der. 2 Cal­i­for­nia poppy. 3 Retro out­door ta­ble, $639, from French Coun­try.

4 Ce­ramic aged white urn, $189, from French Coun­try. 5 Azores jas­mine (Jas­minum

azoricum). 6 An­gelo planter, $309, from French Coun­try. 7 Cherub aged white square pot, $69, from French Coun­try.

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