Florence’s Favourite: Cottage Garden plants

Today I thought I would share a list of plants for those of you to buy who are looking to plant a cottage garden. Hugely popular, this style of planting yields lots of cutting flowers for the house and has a dreamy, thoroughly English feel to it. All you need add is a picket fence! This is by no means an exhaustive list but contains some of my favourites. Plant a border with a combination of these flowers and you’ll be well on your way to having your own cottage garden in no time.

Perennials (Plants that you plant once then come up year after year, dying down over the winter.)

  • Dicentra or ‘bleeding heart’, named for the heart shaped pink flowers. Late spring flowering, copes well with partial shade.
  • Lavender, always a favourite, choose the traditional English type for a quintessential English country garden look. Try edging your borders or paths with it. Suits sun baked corners and dry conditions.
  • Peony. Hard to grow but rewarding when it finally flowers. Patience is a virtue! Needs plenty of sun.

Annuals (Seeds you grow in the spring then flower in summer, then die. They live for only one summer.)

  • Nigella, also known as ‘Love in a Mist’ – pretty pink, blue and white flowers veiled by fern-like foliage.
  • Cornflower. Classic country meadow flowers, easy to grow in sunny conditions and not just available in blue! (There is also a perennial cornflower that is easy to grow.)
  • Sweet peas are perfect for picking, grow the old fashioned varieties for a fabulous scent. Make sure you don’t let them go to seed – picking them ensures they keep flowering throughout the season. They need support – buy or make wigwams out of cane and tie the plants to the supports loosely.

Biennials (Plant in spring or summer of one year and they flower the following summer.)

  • Lupins – Spires of multicoloured flowers and a long flowering period. Easy to grow but needs good sun.
  • Foxglove – perfect for shady corners and reminiscent of woodland gardens. Tall spires of flowers rise from low plants so place them between lower bushes like ferns or hostas which provide ground cover and also like shade.
  • Delphinium – Tall blue or white spires of flowers. Needs sun and often need staking.
  • Hollyhocks – Very tall spires of large pink flowers.


  • Garden Rose – The prettiest kind and grown on a bushier plant that is better in a border than the likes of newer tea roses (think interflora!)

So have I missed any readers? Have you got any favourites? Please feel free to add any you love in the comments box.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

10 thoughts on “Florence’s Favourite: Cottage Garden plants

  1. Our foxgloves have gone MAD this year! They look lovely in a simple, tall vase on the kitchen table, though.

  2. Currently, I am an expat in a place where the climate is so different to home that I am learning all over again how to garden. However, when we finally return home I cannot wait to fill my garden with these delights.

  3. I’m going to try a few of these – I love having Lavender in the garden I find it so easy to look after!!

  4. What a lovely post for such a lousy day (weather-wise, at least!)!

    Like Esme, I’ve noticed that across the nation foxgloves seem particularly resplendent this year! I love watching the bees visit each flower. I’m transfixed by each perfect little ‘dock’ (I’ve recently re-watched The Fifth Element and there seems something space-travel-esque about flowery tunnels…) If the weather was better I’d happily spend the afternoons watching the industrious gals going about their business.

    For me, I’d have to add the humble nasturtium to the list – I love the parasol-like foliage. In this weather, its lovely to watch the raindrops gather and roll off!

    Think I’ll have to consult the RHS Yellow book – I feel the urge to look round some seriously well-maintained gardens this weekend!

  5. A slight confusion here Rebecca, delphiniums are grown as perennials as are lupins. It’s when you sow them from seed that they take till the following year to flower. Buy either as a small plant from a nursery in Spring and they will flower the same summer and in subsequent years. Both though are the caviar of slugs and snails so need some sort of protection.

    Other good choices for cottage gardens are echinecea (coneflower) which flowers late summer and my absolute favourite cranesbill (perennial geraniums). Maybe the sun will come out soon so we can all get out there!

    • Hi Penny, thank you so much for pointing that out. You are of course right, I have had such a lack of success over the last couple of dry summers in my arid back garden that I had begun to convince myself they were biennials obviously!!

      Thanks again 🙂


  6. I’m loving my garden at the moment. The foxgloves & roses are resplendent, & next year I’m going for a peony. I’d really like to know more about flowers that are good for cutting. I know my roses will grow back but will foxgloves re grow in the same summer if I cut them?

  7. I planted a white, and a pink bleeding heart this year and they are so pretty! Love their cute petals!

  8. My poor little lupins have taken a hammering this year. First it was the slugs attacking them, then my cats decided that they weren’t fond and promptly knocked the flowers off. They have rallied though and are now blooming again.
    I love tea roses. I bought my very first David Austin rose a couple of months back (Princess Alexandra- It had my name on it I couldn’t resist!) it’s putting on a fabulous display and the smell is just amazing!
    Off down to Hampton Court Flower Show this weekend, so this post is well timed. My shopping list is growing rapidly! 🙂

  9. My garden is looking slightly sad, soggy and slug ridden. I agree with Peggy though, the cranesbill are really lovely and even I don’t seem to be able to kill them. We have HUGE ferns as well this year, I think they must like all the rain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *