CREATE THE LOOK
FOLLOW PAMELA HUBBARD’S TIPS TO GROW YOUR OWN ENGLISH COTTAGE-STYLE GARDEN.
Lay out beds and borders so they curve. Avoid gardening in straight lines.
Plant close together for abundance. Layer plantings so they’re lush, full, and packed with color. Pam chooses a gentle color palette, but you can also grow a border with lively, contrasting hues.
Define space and add height by employing structures such as fences, arbors, and trellises.
Include traditional English perennials such as delphiniums, roses, phlox, daisies, bee balm, and hollyhocks as suits your climate. For annuals consider marigolds, zinnias, and cleome.
Tuck in accents, such as a birdbath, bench, or a bright bistro set, to create destinations or focal points and to infuse the garden with your personality.
Create a peaceful place to relax in shady gardens where you can surround yourself with plants of varying green textures for interest.
Arrange groups of potted plants that can mark an entrance or direct the eye. They can also add seasonal variety.
Don’t worry about following strict design rules. Include elements that have personal meaning and that will evoke memories.
Fences, arbors, and trellises define the different areas in the garden and frame views. They also provide structure to grow things vertically, a common technique in English cottage gardens. “I have fences behind my shade garden and use a tall trellis and arbors to grow vines up them to have that verticality,” Pam says.
“The Poconos grow rocks,” Pam says. The rocky clay soil plus extreme weather patterns meant things didn’t thrive the way they did in England. “England is temperate. We gardened in Zone 7 or 8. They say we’re in Zone 6 in the Poconos, but it’s basically a Zone 5,” she says. For example, daffodils would bloom in February in her childhood village of Heath Hayes but not until May where she lives now. A favorite bloom of Pam’s grandmother—delphiniums—turned out to be difficult to grow in her Pennsylvania garden. “I have to treat delphiniums like annuals here; they don’t always overwinter. And I can’t get a field of them to grow like my mother could,” Pam says. She also planted hollyhocks, which her mother grew easily, but Pam’s
hollyhocks seemed to struggle more with rust in her Pennsylvania garden.
To get the garden she wanted, Pam realized she needed more education, so she took classes through Penn State Extension to become a Master Gardener. The skills she acquired enabled her to evoke the style of England’s small fenced gardens but on a much larger scale. When budget allowed, she and Duane installed fences to define spaces, but other areas, like the woodland walk, are open. Duane wanted a pond, for which Pam designed an herbaceous border. In recent years she has planted a palette of soft tones instead of bold, colorful plantings often seen in England. She also strays from a loose, cottage style in her fenced vegetable garden, instead choosing a formal approach similar to the Colonial Williamsburg plots she and Duane saw on their honeymoon.
The property also now includes a pollinator garden in the front yard. Birdhouses and garden accents Duane finds at flea markets are tucked in here and there. On a garden-tour trip in England, Pam noted that many gardens included a birdcage planted with ivy, so she worked that into her Poconos place.
Pam’s grandson, Jonathan Strunk, has helped her garden since he first learned to walk. A teenager now, he helps plant the vegetable gardens in spring and tucks in miniature gardens throughout for visitors to discover. Pam likes to share her family’s gardening past as well as the present with Jonathan.
She hosts English-style teas in the garden in spring and fall for friends and family. Pam relishes the meaning behind almost every feature of her garden and takes joy in the knowledge that she is passing her garden traditions on to another generation—on American soil. “An English cottage garden for me is very much about evoking memories and passing them along to the grandchildren,” she says.
COUNTRY GARDENS //
TOP Cold frames added to the side of Pam’s potting shed allow her to extend the growing season for annual plants by a few weeks in spring and fall. ABOVE Colorful watering cans become a charming accent when displayed in a row. RIGHT The potting shed is more than simply a spot to store tools and gardening essentials. It also houses a rocking chair that has been in Duane’s family for over a hundred years. A friend passed along vintage gardening books after her husband passed away; Pam found the perfect place for them in the bookcase next to the rocker.
Pam bought her big-box shed because it came with a sloped roof, clear panels on one wall that let light in, and a built-in potting bench. She later added shades to help control the light and installed insulation so she could use the shed earlier in spring and later into the fall.
TOP LEFT Winding paths separate curved beds anchored by small trees and shrubs and accented with colorful perennials and annuals. The curves help create a layered feel in the
Cleome hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’
Pam’s grandfather grew vegetables, and she follows some of his techniques in her gardening. “I learned what they call in America ‘lasagna gardening’ but what he called ‘no-dig gardening,’ ” she says. “He just piled compost, newspaper, peat moss, and topsoil on top of each other in layers, which is how I made most of my beds.”