There are few things as characteristically English as a cottage garden. Think of one and your mind will drift to a chocolate-box house surrounded by a mass of flowering perennials, roses, and climbing plants.

However, you do not need to have a typical thatched or period cottage in the heart of the English countryside to have and enjoy the cottage garden style.

The ‘as nature intended’ informal style of mixed planting in the garden can be created around any type or age of property, whether you live in a village, a town, or a city. In fact, the benefit of a cottage garden is that the style is perfect for anyone wishing to grow lots of plants in a small area.

What is the Cottage Garden Style?

Creating a cottage garden aesthetic may seem whimsical and unstructured at first glance, but a deeper delve soon reveals that with careful planning, anyone can replicate its charm. The key factor is to embrace a naturalistic approach, steering clear of rigid straight lines or formal patterns. Adopting the simplistic, and sporadic approach, is essential to achieving this look.

The very essence of a cottage garden lies in the abundance of life and colour, with borders overflowing in a wealth of blooms. To achieve this, you should seek to blend a harmonious mix of colours, textures, shapes, and fragrances. By combining these different elements thoughtfully, you can ensure that there’s always something to captivate you.

A cottage garden style is the organic, and ever-evolving celebration of the wild and untamed. Each plant has its own place in the display, all supporting one another.

Chelsea 2017 cottage garden border
A pastel-hued cottage garden style area of planting with the Hillier RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 garden

Cottage Garden Design Ideas

Organic Shapes

Cottage gardens thrive on spontaneity and irregularity. Avoid symmetrical patterns and rigid lines when planting your garden, opting instead for curved borders and naturalistic layouts that mimic the beauty of nature.

Mix and Match Plants

A charm of a cottage garden comes from the diverse mix of plant species. Blend classics like roses, daisies, and lavenders, with wildflowers and herbs for a beautiful display of colour and texture.

Create Cozy Corners

Incorporating places to sit and enjoy your surroundings is essential to appreciating your cottage garden. Create inviting seating area, place charming benches, or add rustic arches to create intimate nooks where you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of your garden up close.

Quirky Ornaments

Inject personality into your garden with vintage signs, creative sculptures, or upcycled containers. These quirky accents add character to your outdoor space.

Encouraging Wildlife

Cottage gardens are havens for biodiversity, attracting bees, butterflies, birds and other forms of wildlife with their abundance of nectar-rich flowers. Include bird baths, insect hotels, and other places for wildlife to seek refuge within your cottage garden.

Creating Your Own Cottage Garden

Whether you have a sprawling garden, or a small urban plot, you can create your own slice of cottage garden paradise. Start by assessing the space which you have to work with, considering factors such as sunlight, soil type, and overall drainage of the garden. Then let your creativity loose as you experiment with different plant combinations and design elements.

Keep in mind whilst planting and building your garden that the beauty lies in its imperfections. Don’t be afraid to embrace the disorder as you let your garden evolve over time. With a little patience, love, and care, you can cultivate a charming retreat that captures the essence of a classic English cottage garden.

View our Collection of Plants
Erysimum Fragrant Sunshine
Erysimum ‘Fragrant Sunshine’, bringing bright yellow cheer to cottage style planting schemes.

Plants for a Cottage Garden


Campanulas bring a wonderful touch with their charming bell-shaped blooms. These pretty flowers come in a variety of colours and sizes, perfect for adding a whimsical touch to your garden borders or pots.


With their tall spire of colourful blossoms, Delphiniums are classic cottage garden plants that add a sense of drama to your place of sanctuary. These majestic flowers are a fantastic choice for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies, creating an animated haven for wildlife. Make sure you choose from the range of hues which Delphiniums offer, creating your own enchanting display.

Digitalis Serendipity cottage style
Digitalis ‘Serendipity’ brings spikes of interest to a mixed border.


Dianthuses are beloved by many for their sweet fragrance and delicate petals. These charming plants are easy to care for and bloom profusely throughout summer months. Their old-fashioned charm and timeless appeal will help to bring a sense of nostalgia to any garden.


Digitalis, commonly known as foxgloves, bring variation in height with their tall spikes of tubular flowers. These hardy plants self-seed easily, creating a naturalistic look to borders of woodland settings which is perfect for cottage gardens.


Erysimum are cherished for their vibrant blooms and spicy fragrances. These reliable and tough plants thrive in sunny spots and well-drained soil, making them perfect for borders or rockeries.

Gertrude,Epilobium, Geranium 'Brookside'
Gertrude,Epilobium, Geranium ‘Brookside’.


Versatile and reliable performers, geraniums are a good choice for cottage gardens. With their ability to produce masses of colourful blooms, these low-growing plants are a strong choice for filling gaps in borders or edging pathways.

Iris Germanica Superstition
The dramatic purple-black flowers of Iris ‘Superstition’.


Irises bring elegance and sophistication with their intricate blooms and graceful foliage. These beautiful plants come in a variety of types, from bearded to Siberian, offering a wide range of colours and forms to suit a cottage garden style.


With their fragrant, star-shaped flowers, Phlox are prized for their vibrant blooms and long-lasting appeal. These hardy perennials are available in a spectrum of colours, from soft pinks to bold magentas, phlox inject cheerful colour and charm into garden borders.


Roses are the epitome of cottage garden romance, evoking nostalgia with their intoxicating fragrance and timeless beauty. From climbing varieties adorning trellises to shrub roses nestled among herbaceous perennials, roses add a touch of elegance and sophistication to cottage garden landscapes.