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.




Florence’s florals: Peony Passion

Hello May, I’m so pleased to see you. In my opinion, the best month of the year for flowers…namely my favourites of Lily of the Valley, Lilac, and Peonies.


After the love you all showed for peonies in the first of my Seasonal Series I’m hoping that you won’t mind a little self-indulgent peony pleasure this month. I thought I’d start with a few tips for arranging and then leave the rest to your viewing pleasure.…..

Lily of the valley in jar, bouquet and in blue glass bottle.

As with all flowers, once you’ve got them home or cut them from your garden, remove all of the leaves that will fall below the water line and give each stem a clean cut at a 45 degree angle.

Sometimes the buds can be covered in a sticky sap which can inhibit the petals from bursting open. If this is the case, hold them upside down under a running cold tap to remove some of the sap.

Image credit unknown

As the heads of the peonies are usually too heavy for the stems, choose a vase, jug, or bottle which narrows at the neck to provide enough support for their weighty heads.

I think less is more when it comes to these beauties and I prefer mine on their own. If you want to fill in the gaps however, raid your garden for some fresh green foliage budding from the trees, or what about some cow parsley from the hedgerow?

To prolong their life, re-cut the stems and change the water every few days.

Peony in goblet, Peony cake decor

If you snap a head by accident, don’t panic, they also last for ages floating in a little bowl or cup of water.

Right then ladies and gents, this is your official Peony announcement…..they are available now (although still a little pricey) and shall be around for, fingers crossed, the next 8 weeks……go, buy, and enjoy!

Becky Hay

PS. Read more of Becky’s floral series on Florence Finds or follow her on Twitter @BlossomChorlton.

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