Home » Garden » 5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

Looking for ways to grow a cottage garden? Here are 5 quick ways to grow a beautiful flower garden in your yard.

When I started gardening over 25 years ago, I wanted a cottage garden that would continually bloom.

I started with a few annuals, then progressed to perennials, then tucked in a few bulbs, and eventually added some flowering shrubs and trees.

So my love for cottage-style gardening has been an evolution.

And it’s been a different experience every year because every season teaches me something new.

Last year, I closed out the season with a serious love for dahlias and gorgeous hibiscus flowers.

So I decided to add more flowers with cottage charm to the gardens this year.

Which got me thinking about gardening and ways to add cottage style to the beds.

Do you want to learn how to grow a cottage garden?

Follow these simple tips.

(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)

Dahlias in cottage garden -Planting for fall garden beauty with dahlias

My Gardening Philosophy

When we are talking about gardening, no two cottage gardens are the same.

Every hardiness zone, every town, every neighborhood, every home…has its own micro-climate.

So what grows well in one garden, may or may not grow well in another.

goldenrod in the cottage garden

We don’t know what will work in our gardens until we try it.

Because gardening is one big experiment, I subscribe to the motel theory of gardening.

Have you heard of that theory before?

Benary giant wine  zinnia - Zinnias grow failry tall and need staking. Zinnia in my gardening zone 6a summer flowers. This is Zinnia 'Benary's Giant Wine'

Gardening is very similar to a motel.

Plants check-in.

If they love the environment, they’ll stay.

Wood picket fence surrounding garden shed with my cut flower bed in my jersey garden

Other plants will check-in and not love the micro-climate, so they’ll check out and leave.

And that’s OK.

We don’t want them hanging around if they aren’t going to do well and look pretty.

After deadheading flowers

That doesn’t make us bad plant parents.

Not all plants do well in our micro-climates.

That doesn’t make you a bad gardener.

So in order to learn, it’s important to try new things and stretch your knowledge.

Siberian iris and allium flowers - spring cleaning in the garden

So What is a Cottage Garden and How Do You Grow One?

Cottage gardens are really unique.

And the prettiest cottage gardens blend lots of colors, textures, flowers, and fragrances really well.

They tend to lack formality because there is less focus on spacing or height graduations.

Allium, salvia, nepeta, knockout roses and irises in my cottage garden in spring - My cottage garden flowers in spring - 5 Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden - alliums, roses and salvia and nepeta are blooming

Cottage gardens typically start with a formal structure like an arbor, birdhouse, fencing, or some other type of hardscaping feature.

But then that structure is softened and accented with amazingly beautiful blooms.

And that’s where the fun begins.

Close up of Dahlia 'Penhill Watermelon'
Dahlia ‘Penhill Watermelon’

The Advantages of a Cottage Garden

One of the things that I love about a cottage garden is the ability to express your personal garden style through flowers and foliage.

Grow what you love.

Roses climbing up obelisk -The Complete Guide to Roses Care

Combine colors and textures that are pleasing to you.

Some of my best plant combinations happened just by playing around with different colors, textures, and blooms.

It brings me a lot of joy and gives me something to look forward to during the doldrums of winter when I pour of plant catalogs and gardening magazines.

roses in my jersey garden

No two gardens will ever be the same.

And in fact, even the same garden will look different from year to year.

To me, the biggest advantage is that it does not need to be meticulously maintained.

closeup of globemaster allium, siberian iris and bearded iris - 5 Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

So it’s totally OK if plants aren’t pristinely manicured or a few weeds pop up.

The cottage garden disguises those imperfections, so it is imperfectly perfect.

And for me, that’s the way I love to garden.

cafe au late Dahlia flowers close up

I just love how the dahlias looked this year.

And the more you cut.

The more flowers you get!

Cottage garden flowers in my cut flower garden in backyard garden in front of garden shed with wood picket fence - Staking flowers is important to do when growing a cut flower garden
My cottage garden in late summer. Look at those amazing hibiscus blooms!

5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

  • Choose to start in one small area. Then expand your gardens as you gain experience.
  • Start with some structural plants like small evergreen and flowering shrubs and trees. I tend to buy these as young plants so they are easier to manage and plant. Plus if it doesn’t survive, I didn’t spend 10x the price. Yes it takes longer, but it has worked for me.
Garden shed with cut flower garden inside a wood picket fence with an arbor -How to Plant Flowers in a Window Box Planter
  • Add a focal point, such as a birdbath, birdhouse, arbor, bench, chair, fence, paths, or some sort of hardscaping element to plant around.
  • Plant flowers in clumps with lots of color, texture, dimension, and different bloom times. Read the tags so you know what to expect and how to care for them.
  • Repeat plants and colors so the garden flows and your eye is drawn fluidly throughout the bed.
Cut flower garden in front of garden shed with Sunflower 'Panache' in the cut flower garden

What Are Cottage Garden Plants?

I have many of these, but not all.

Some don’t grow easily in my hardiness zone or are not readily available at my local nursery in spring.

So I grow others from seed indoors.

But did you know you can also sow seeds outdoors in winter?

Yes! It’s with a technique called winter sowing.

Whatever method you use to start seeds, check out these cottage garden flowers:

  • lavender
  • echinacea
  • black-eyed susans
  • dahlias
  • hollyhocks
  • sweet peas
  • delphiniums
  • roses
  • daylillies
  • daisies
  • larkspur
  • pansies
  • scabiosa
  • columbines
  • phlox
  • foxglove
  • butterfly bush
  • iris
  • peonies
  • sedum autumn joy
  • hydrangeas
  • snapdragons
  • strawflowers
  • cosmos
  • forget-me-nots
  • wisteria
  • sunflowers
Allium, salvia, siberian iris and roses in Cottage garden flowers in zone 6a garden in June - happy gardening
Gardening for Hummingbirds – June Garden Tour

About My Cottage Garden

My cottage garden is grown in New Jersey, gardening Zone 6a.

We have very cold winters here and have the last frost date in mid-May.

And don’t think for one second that last frost date isn’t something you should follow.

Larkspur in my Jersey Garden

Because last year, we had a really bad freeze just before Mother’s Day!

Luckily it didn’t affect my gardens too badly.

You can see how my gardens grew here.

close up of foxglove digitalis flowers

What are cottage garden plants that I grow here in New Jersey are:

Echinops and echinacea in My gardening zone 6a summer flowers

And I just love how my garden continually blooms.

From early spring to late fall, something is always happening.

To get my tips for designing a colorful garden that is always in bloom, read this post.

Zinnia, rudbekia, roses and echinacea flowers in my garden Bricks 'n Blooms Weekly

I typically plant my cottage garden with plants found at the nursery.

But my garden has grown from 1 garden to 10 just by dividing my plants and starting new gardens.

And while there is a traditional way to start a new garden, there’s also an easier way to start a garden.

roses in my jersey garden

Tweaking the Garden to Add Cottage Charm

I spent some time this spring after writing this post to add more cottage charm to my backyard garden.

I recently did a complete makeover of my garden shed so I could start a cut flower garden.

And wow did it look amazing by the end of the growing season!

The cut flower garden is starting to grow in front of the garden shed inside a wood picket fence with green garden stakes and tiny clay pots -Cutting Garden by the Shed

To add some cottage charm, I added window boxes with flowers, a picket fence, and other garden accents.

Doesn’t my garden shed look like a cute cottage?

And I could not wait for my newly planted garden to grow!

close up of lilac blooms and a garden shed on the happy gardening tour in my backyard garden with wood picket fence

As the season progressed, the plants I started from seed began filling in.

And my cut flower garden grew.

Click here to learn how to start a cut flower garden for beginners.

By July, I was cutting flowers and creating beautiful bouquets.

Learn what the clay pots on the green garden stakes are for here.

Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling

By August, more of the plants started filling in.

The zinnias that bloomed through the summer started dying back and the dahlias took over!

And by the way, those stone pathways were a necessity to move through the garden without crushing roots and compacting the soil.

Doesn’t the garden look so pretty?

Gorgeous cottage garden in front of garden shed in backyard garden - My cut flower garden in front of the shed in the backyard with a wood picket fence and sedum autumn joy - How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery
Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners

By autumn, my cottage garden was still growing and changing.

It was beyond beautiful and so fun to cut the flowers.

Now that I moved, I’m hoping to replicate this garden by the pool and front porch gardens.

Backyard cottage garden in front of garden shed -cut flower garden in nj in late summer

Looking for More Cottage Garden Ideas?

Here are more cottage garden tips, tricks, and inspiration.

More Gardening Inspiration

This year, I am going to start different types of flowers from seed like my good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells does in the pacific northwest.

If you want to see a really pretty cottage garden, check out hers.

It’s truly magical!

Cottage Garden by Shiplap and Shells

Don’t Have a Garden That’s Read to Plant?

Learn how to start a new garden HERE.

Front yard gardens with two story center colonial -My Jersey Garden Tour

Looking for More Garden Inspiration?

close up of peony flower with wine and roses weigela flowers

About Me

Want to learn more about me?

Get the inside scoop about my background, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging.

Sign Me Up!

Sign up for my free newsletter to get blog posts, seasonal tips, recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Plus, get free VIP access to my Resource Library where you’ll find insider freebies not readily available to the public.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xoxo

Let’s Connect!

If you like this post, please follow me @bricksnblooms on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Or join my Facebook Group.

Pin and Save It on Pinterest!

close up of cottage garden flowers
Close up of limelight hydrangea and tall phlox -5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden
Close up of cafe au lait dahlia -5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

12 Comments

  1. Great minds think alike. I love a cottage garden!I really enjoyed your thoughts on starting a cottage garden. And thank you for the shout out Stacy! It’s very much appreciated. Aren’t you excited to start gardening again? Can’t wait.

    1. I cannot wait for the 2021 season! I am planning out where I’m going to put the new blooms – I may add some raised beds in the backyard but my resident groundhog may be an issue. I am so excited to get started on this project! We will have fun with it. xoxo

  2. Stacy,
    I’m definitely saving this post because I’ll need it to kick start my flowers this spring. Thanks for your informative posts.
    Rachel.

  3. I love gardening and miss the ability to maintain one. In our old home I had beautiful gardens with many wildflowers.

    MS doesn’t give me the ability to have a garden in our new home. However, this fall I was able to visit our backyard physically since we’ve lived here.

    I’m blessed with a new drug. Why am I sharing this? I planted 175 Daffodil bulbs in front of our shed.

    It gave me hope and the ability to plant my favorite spring bulbs.

    Cindy

    1. That’s amazing! I can’t wait to see them come up this year! I planted a bunch too. I hope it keeps helping you feel well Cindy! xoxo

  4. What great photos you have there! And there’s also a surprise picture of the black dog, he’s so cute! Also, I love your garden; it already looks like a park. And the butterfly’s also pretty!

  5. You’re inspiring me to attempt planting some perinneals around my house. I haven’t had much luck laying out gardens successfully in the past. Pinned so I can reference your list of suggestions! Thanks for sharing.