With the new year upon us, I love to look back and review how my cottage garden flowers grew.

To see what worked and what didn’t.

Learn what’s missing.

And decide what I’m adding to the gardens in the next growing season.

Although we moved and will be starting with completely new gardens in spring 2022, I learned so much from my 2021 cottage gardens.

I’m going to use what I learned there in the new cottage garden I’m adding to my new home.

Wait until you see how beautiful the gardens progressed through the seasons!

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

close up of creme caramel coreopsis

How to Grow a Cottage Garden

Have you ever wanted to grow a cottage garden before?

Cottage gardens are so fun and unique to grow.

If you don’t have one yet, here are 5 quick ways to get started.

What Goes in a Cottage Garden?

What I love most about cottage gardening is anything goes!

They include lots of beautiful plantings and masses of different cottage garden flowers that range in colors, textures, and forms.

With lots of flowers to choose from, I prefer to work with cottage garden flowers that deer prefer not to eat.

Now that doesn’t mean they won’t ever eat them if they are hungry enough, but in general, THESE cottage garden flowers work well in deer-resistant borders.

And if you need more tips to prevent deer from devouring your gardens, check out my post 7 ways to keep deer from eating your plants.

happy gardening tour

My Cottage Garden Flowers in 2020

To see how far the gardens came in 2021, we’ve got to look back at 2020!

I set goals for curb appeal and the beds.

While I didn’t do them all, I did a lot of other cool things!

You can check it out HERE.

But wait until you see how the gardens grew in 2021.

I’m taking some notes of the things I liked to replicate here at the new house.

siberian iris and allium flowers in spring garden

My Cottage Garden Flowers in Spring

Spring was beyond beautiful last year.

And really, the entire gardening season was amazing.

The bulbs I planted in fall all came up and looked beautiful!

So much so, I purchased more for 2022 blooms.

Early Spring in the Cottage Garden

I held off putting them in the ground until I was able to plant them at the new house.

Luckily the ground hadn’t frozen yet!

So I got them all planted last week in front of this stone wall.

Bricks 'n Blooms Weekly

Early Spring

There’s just something about early spring when the plants break ground and the blooms start the growing season.

It’s truly amazing!

And one of the reasons I truly appreciate living in a four-season climate.

My Early Spring in the Garden Tour


The double-flowering daffodils I planted in fall looked gorgeous for so long!

No critters touched them.

And they kicked off the 2021 gardening season with lots of pretty colors and textures.

How gorgeous are these Split Corona Daffodils?

I love all the pretty details in the petals, don’t you?

double flowering daffodils


Another garden favorite was these gorgeous tulips I planted! They were tall, beautiful and the deer never touched them!

I used my latest deer repellent strategy and it worked great.

Not sure what variety they are though as they were gifted to me and I quickly threw them in the ground before it froze in 2020.

I should have kept better notes because I’d plant them again.

daffodils and tulips
A mix of forget-me-nots, pansies, daffodils, and tulips in the front yard cottage garden.

Changes in the Backyard Gardens

We made a few big changes to the gardens in 2021.

For starters, we rehabbed the shed garden to prepare it for cut flower gardening.

We removed the old rotting cedar fencing and raised vegetable garden beds to prepare them for a picket fence.

I started a bunch of flowers from seed in my basement, and the shed garden was the spot where I wanted to grow them.

Of course, I wound up overdoing it and started over 1400 flowers, but hey, you gotta live a little, am I right?

Although we dismantled the existing vegetable garden, we added THESE incredible raised garden beds.

And let me tell you, these beds were an AWESOME addition to my vegetable garden.

Spring Garden Flowers

My flowering crabapple had a beautiful start but didn’t bloom for very long.

Truth be told, I will miss this tree the most from the old house.

It was blooming when we first saw this property over 23 years ago.

And I looked forward to the blooms every season.

My Early Spring in the Garden Tour

Mid-Spring Blooms


There were so many cottage garden flower faves from spring.

It’s so hard to narrow them down, but here it goes.

Bearded Iris and Allium in the Cottage Garden

Iris and Alliums

My bearded iris and globemaster alliums looked AMAZING!

I wish I could tell you the variety of this beautiful yellow bearded iris, but I got it from a client several years ago.

This was their best season by far.

I dug and divided a small clump before moving so I could replant some here.

And I hope they take!

I also bought a few globemasters to plant and got them in the ground just before Christmas.

Because alliums are my favorite flowering bulbs!

The deer don’t touch them and they look incredible when planted en masse.

5 Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden

Looking back at all the blooms while writing this post, I’m really going to miss my gardens.

Throughout all the years of living here, I planted each bed and started every garden by myself.

The gardens brought me so much joy all season long.

I hope the new homeowners appreciate them as much as I did!

spring garden beautiful pink peony flower


It was a great season for peony blooms.

And the ones I planted in fall all took and bloomed.

I didn’t cut any of their flowers though because they need to establish for a few years before you start harvesting them.

But they were so pretty to look at!

how my cottage garden flowers grew in 2021 creeping phlox

Creeping Phlox

A true delight this year was this mound of creeping phlox.

Isn’t that so cool that it’s shaped like a heart?

That’s not intentional either.

It just grew that way this year.

lilac blooms and a garden shed on the happy gardening tour


My reblooming lilac put on an amazing show this year.

The aroma was heavenly!

And the flowers lasted quite a while.

How to Plant Flowers in Window Boxes

But the lilac looked best when fire pit season began!

Because it glowed in the moonlight.

This reblooming variety is called ‘Bloomerang’ and is a must-have cottage garden plant.

We don’t have one here at the new house, so I need to plant it as soon as possible because this particular lilac took a few years to establish and start producing flowers.

Lilac by the Fire Pit Garden

Doesn’t the shed garden look so much better after the makeover?

I love how the picket fence changed the whole garden vibe.

Wait until you see how it looked with my cottage garden flowers that I started from seed!

happy gardening

More Spring Blooming Cottage Garden Flowers

My front yard cottage garden had lots of pretty purple and pink flowers in spring.

From the first blooms of my bright fuschia knockout roses to the deep blue-purple hue of the siberian iris together with catmint, midnight salvia, and alliums, this garden had a calm, cool vibe in spring.

I have to replicate this in our new gardens. Most of it is deer resistant so these will be on my list to plant in spring.

The roses will need to be sprayed with deer repellent though! Because deer will decimate those in a heartbeat.

close up of garden shed with wood picket fence and yellow bearded iris

While my front yard cottage garden has been my labor of love, the backyard gardens stole my heart this season!

There was much to love with all the changes I made in spring.

I added copper window boxes to the garden shed this year and they looked so pretty all potted up with spring annuals.

Planting flowers in the window boxes


Shana and I discovered passionflower at the nursery while shopping for annuals. So we decided to plant it in the backyard.

It’s so enchanting isn’t it? The details in the flowers is incredible!

It was a fun climber to grow.

Happy gardening with passionflower

I also planted a bunch of containers and sited them throughout the gardens in the backyard to add some visual interest to the borders and give the eye a place to rest.

Fuschia was the predominant color in the backyard borders in May. Wine and roses weigela, peonies, and superwave petunias really brightened up the border.

The new house has some peonies but I’ll need to add a few weigelas. Because weigelas are well-loved by pollinators and bloom beautifully in spring.

Happy gardening with dark horse wiegela, peonies and container gardening

Late Spring Flowers

Late spring was just as beautiful as the gardens started filling in.

While the alliums continued their bloom, my roses had their best first bloom yet!


Look at how many are on my knockouts!

I fed them with THIS and noticed a huge difference with all of my rose blooms this year.

As a sidenote, I want to add this combination to the stone wall border in front of our new home.

Speaking of roses, there were SO many gorgeous rose blooms last year

alliums and roses on the happy gardening tour

Here are a few.

CLICK HERE to read all about roses care and how to get the most out of them.

Because there were so many blooms, I also spent a lot of time pruning and deadheading flowers this year.

Although it was a little more work than I planned, it was pure joy working among these gorgeous cottage garden flowers.

And yes, the scent was amazing!

The Complete Guide to Roses Care

My New Favorite Pruners

Speaking of pruning, I partnered with Garrett Wade, a tool company that was new to me.

They sent me some garden pruners to try out and let me tell you, THESE pruners are THE BEST!

Super sharp tool and feels really good to work with.

deadheading flowers

I shared all about them in my post about deadheading flowers.

And the fact that they are turquoise blue helps me find them because I’m terrible with my garden tools!

I leave them all over the place and can never find them later.

But not with these!

my jersey garden hydrangeas at sunset


While my roses had an amazing season, so did my endless summer hydrangeas! They had the most blooms I’ve seen in a LONG time!

Remember that year when my hydrangeas didn’t bloom much? Not this year!

By far, this was the best year for my hydrangeas too.

Garden shed in my jersey garden

Cut Flower Garden

The cut flower garden in the backyard started to fill in quickly.

As I started working in the beds, I added these green garden stakes with terra cotta pots to help support my zinnias, snapdragons, and cosmos.

You can hear all about why I used terra cotta pots on the green garden stakes HERE.

On a side note, I didn’t realize how much staking these plants needed. I’ll be using a different system in 2022. Stay tuned!

Butterfly weed and catmint in my jersey garden

Butterfly Weed

As we moved into late spring, the orange and yellow hues started to emerge in the garden while the cool blue hues faded to grays.

Love this butterfly weed and so do the monarchs.

If you want to attract butterflies to the garden, you definitely want to plant this and other flowers from THIS list.

cottage garden summer flowers in jersey

Want to See More of My Gardens in Spring?

Follow these spring garden tours!

My Cottage Garden Flowers in Summer

Ah, summer. Where the colors are warm and the pollinators are active!

My cut flower garden exploded with blooms and did not stop until the first frost.

I can’t wait to show you!

Cottage Garden by the shed in the backyard

Early Summer Blooms

My cut flower garden started blooming like crazy in July.

From the zinnias to the snapdragons and poppies, it was so pretty! And I had the best time just getting out there and cutting flowers to make bouquets.

I cut bouquets and made arrangements almost daily. Decorated my home for the season.

Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling
zinnias in a vintage crockpot

Gave them away to friends, family, and Chris’ office.

So I think I found my new jam.

And with the new house, we’ll be doing lots of cut flower gardening too.

I’ve already started planning where it will go and what plants I want to start from seed.

picnic date with friends
I cut a bunch of blooms for a picnic date with friends.


One of my cut flower favorites was zinnias. And I grew like 9 different varieties this year.

I originally ordered 5 varieties to start from seed.

But my good friend Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill offered me a few more varieties she didn’t have room for that I did not buy.

So of course I took them!

But I’ll tell you what?

gardening zone 6a summer flowers
‘Benary’s Giant Wine’ Zinnia
gardening zone 6a summer flowers in the backyard

I’m going to grow that many again if I can because they were fabulous producers for quite some time and SO easy to start from seed.

My favorites were ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’ and ‘Queen Lime Orange’ Zinnias.

The bigger the better for me, so I’ll be looking for similar blooms to start from seed in 2022.

My gardening zone 6a summer flowers

More Summer Blooming Cottage Garden Flowers

In early summer, my balloon flowers, black-eyed susans, and tall phlox brightened up the front yard cottage garden.

Not to mention they attracted lots of butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. That’s one thing I’ll miss this first year of the gardening season at the new house.

There won’t be as many pollinator faves. Hopefully, I’ll get some in and blooming to attract them early on.

close up of echinops with echinacea and rose flowers in cottage garden


If you are looking for a fun cottage garden flower that deer will likely never touch, look no further than globe thistle.

The bees love them and they add a lot of color and texture to the early summer border.

Echinacea and Monarda

Oh, and of course, you have to have echinacea and bee balm too!

Pollinators are huge fans!

I grew so much this year too. And I divided a small piece off of each to bring here to the new house too.

Let’s hope they take.

my gardening zone 6a summer flowers
15 Mistakes New Gardeners Should Avoid

Midsummer Flowers

Much like early summer, the blooms were incredible well into August.

My dahlias should have started blooming but my resident groundhog ate them.


So they took a little longer.

7 lessons I learned from growing a cut flower patch
Thank goodness for the zinnias and cosmos inside the cut flower garden to get me through those early groundhog damage days.

We wound up trapping and relocating him far far away. That helped save my dahlias temporarily. But a few weeks later, a new one moved in!

So we got serious about the groundhog hotel under my shed and attached chicken wire the base all around it into the ground.

And that made a huge difference!

Bricks 'n Blooms Weekly

Because I ran out of room in the cut flower garden, I tucked zinnias and cosmos all over every garden – wherever I could find a square inch of space.

It looked a little messy at times.

But overall I loved the look!

With my new gardens, I’m going to plan ahead with where they are all going. Since I hadn’t worked with many of them before, I wasn’t sure how they’d grow.

But now that I have some experience, I’ll do things a bit differently here.

7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Flower Patch

Cottage Garden Plant Combinations

One of my favorite combinations was rudbeckia, ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’ zinnia, and my limelight hydrangeas.

They just paired so well together and looked gorgeous well into fall.

close up of monarch butterfly on joe pye weed
Monarch on my Joe Pye Weed


When my dahlias finally rebounded and bloomed, they were beyond beautiful!

I can’t wait to order some of these again for my new garden.

Sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity to dig them up this past fall to overwinter them before we moved.

Here are a few varieties I grew in 2021!

Sadly, my Cafe Au Laits were the hardest hit by the groundhog.

So they didn’t bloom until well into fall.

More on those later.

Doesn’t the cut flower garden look so pretty though?

How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery

Late Summer Flowers

I spent a lot of time making centerpieces with my dahlias and zinnias in late summer.

Here’s one centerpiece that I made for our autumn harvest dinner club all cut from my garden!

Seriously I grew all of these!

September was a great month for the garden while it transitioned to fall too.

how to set a cozy fall harvest table


One of my favorite ornamental shrubs is this beautyberry aka callicarpa.

I don’t grow it for the flowers but rather the bright purple berries that emerge in late summer through fall.

Not to mention its beautiful autumn foliage color.

Limelight Hydrangea

My limelight hydrangea bloomed beautifully too.

I love how the limelight flowers pair with that tall phlox.

garden nj in fall

Sedum Autumn Joy

My sedum autumn joy started to pink up.

It’s one of my favorite cottage garden flowers because it provides 4 seasons of garden interest.

You can learn more about it HERE.

sedum autumn joy in garden nj

Ornamental Grass

In addition to sedum autumn joy, my ornamental grasses started to fill in.

And it looked amazing with the new cut flower garden by the shed when the morning light hit it just the right way.

While not really cottage garden flowers, ornamental grasses add lots of movement, texture and dimension in borders.

So I love to tuck them in.

Cut Flower Garden in the Backyard


Oh and check out my hosta garden!

We had some picket fence leftover from the garden shed makeover so Chris made this into garden decor for me.

I loved it with my hostas!

garden nj shade garden

Dried Hydrangea Flowers and Wreaths

Because the hydrangea blooms were prolific this season, there were lots of blooms to dry.

HERE‘s the easiest way to dry them.

But this year, I made the prettiest hydrangea wreath with them!

Learn how to make it HERE.

How to Make a Simple Hydrangea Wreath for Free

Summerific Hibiscus

One of my favorite cottage garden flowers that blooms summer through fall is Summerific Hibiscus.

Do you grow them?

The blooms are HUGE and make a real statement in the cottage garden. While my blooms were beautiful slugs got to the foliage early and they didn’t recover.

I’m glad it still flowered though!

close up of rose mallow perennial flower-summerific hibiscus or hardy hibiscus

It Was a Hot One!

Typically this time of year, I spend A LOT of time in the gardens.

But it was really hot out well into fall.

So I didn’t work outside as much as I typically do.

Because it was so hot and humid for so long, I kept most gardening tasks to weeding and deadheading.

Although it was hot during the day, it did cool down at night.

So we were able to enjoy the fire pit often.

garden nj front yard
fire pit fall home tour

The flowers looked so pretty in the early evening.

I’m going to miss this garden too.

Chris built that fire pit a few years ago and we turned it into an amazing outdoor living space.

garden nj in the backyard in late summer

Want to See More of My Gardens in Summer?

Follow these summer garden tours!

My Cottage Garden Flowers in Fall

As we head into fall, my gardens started changing to their autumnal hues.

The colors were bright and brilliant!

Wait until you see how beautiful it looked!

Early Fall Garden Flowers

Plants for fall garden


The asters looked amazing. I just love that color, don’t you?

And it looks so pretty with the marigolds I planted in spring and sedum autumn joy.

Which has really pinked up!

I love watching sedum autumn joy grow and change through the seasons, don’t you? It’s a serious workhorse in the garden.

Plants for Fall Garden

Cafe Au Lait Dahlias

My Cafe Au Lait dahlias finally bloomed.

Better late than never!

I didn’t get as many flowers as last year, but I’ll take it what I can get. The foliage started turning a bit later this year.

It didn’t get cold enough early this year, so the foliage took its time this fall.

Planting for fall garden beauty with dahlias

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

One of my favorite fall garden shrubs is this oakleaf hydrangea. Which is another shrub that I grow for the foliage, not the flowers.

While the summer blooms are really pretty, you can’t beat that foliage!

It turns a crimson red in fall and it’s just gorgeous.

9 ways to prepare the garden for winter
9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter

The cut flower garden looked SO PRETTY this fall too. I tucked a bunch of field trip pumpkins in the borders and planters.

And it looked so festive without a lot of work!

I thought my dogs or squirrels would get to them, but to my surprise, they lasted the whole season without one nibble.

Every one of them.

How to Plant a Fall Garden in a Flea Market Find
9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter

Vegetable Garden

Even my vegetable garden continued to produce well into fall!

The nasturtiums I started from seed and marigolds looked so pretty with my plants in those raised garden beds.

As an aside, marigolds are a great companion plant to grow in your vegetable or potager garden.

As fall wore on, my limelight hydrangeas took on their pinkish hue.

Aren’t the blooms so pretty?

9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter limelight hydrangea
9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter

This is about the time we found our new home and put our house on the market too.

What a crazy time it was!

There was so much I wanted to do in the gardens but because we were moving, I did none of it! Right down to not digging out my dahlias.

But with the tight buying and selling timeline, some things had to give.

And my dahlia tubers were one of them.

how my cottage garden grew in 2021 dahlias
Dahlia ‘Pooh’

Why I’ll Miss My Gardens

There is so much I’m going to miss about these gardens. Because I spent a lot of time in them.

What started with one garden when we moved in progressed to over 12 different gardens! With half an acre of property, I was able to fit a lot of different plants in small gardens.

Now that we have more acreage with lots of garden space, I want to plant more drifts of plants to make more of an impact in the gardens.

9 ways to start preparing the garden for winter

There’s so much you can do in a small space though. So if you are just starting out, don’t be afraid to try new things.

You don’t have to follow the rules.

Plant what you love and learn about your garden’s ecosystem as you grow things along the way.

home and garden blogger Stacy Ling in her garden

Want to See More of Gardens in Fall Before the Big Move?

Follow this garden tour.

What to Expect in My 2022 Gardens

Gosh, where do I start???

The property has several different types of gardens.

It can be overwhelming to think about, so I’m going to break it down and work in smaller pieces so it’s more manageable.

zen garden in winter

I’m going to review the new gardens in a future post, but in general, this is what I want to do in 2022.

  • Learn about existing plants in the landscape and assess critter issues.
  • Remove invasive plants.
  • Relocate excessive groundcovers.
  • Start new cottage garden.
  • Start new vegetable garden.
  • Direct sow and start seeds indoors.
  • Learn about pond gardening and koi.
  • Learn about Asian, Greek and formal garden design.

I know we just started winter but I’m so ready to get out there and start working in the beds as soon as I can!

Cheers to the amazing opportunities in 2022!

Tell me about your garden goals in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them!

formal garden at sunset

More About The Last Growing Season in My Former Garden

Can you believe I’m moving and leaving all this hard work behind? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

front pond in fall with bridge in zone 6a new jersey garden
Good Directions Birdhouse surrounded by celosia

Want to Tour My New Gardens?

If you want to check out my new gardens throughout the season you can see them here:

But I also share weekly pics of the gardens in my Sunday updates.

Subscribe here so you don’t miss out on the gardening inspo!

dahlia thomas edison and fountain with arbor in potager garden
Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’

Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

close up of creme caramel coreopsis
Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers

For More Cottage Garden Inspiration

My good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells shared her garden year in review too! For those that aren’t familiar, Kim grows GORGEOUS cottage gardens in the pacific northwest.

I just love her views and pretty flowers. It’s a joy to be able to share our gardens together.

Wait until you see her garden year in review!

summer cottage garden view with birdhouse

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cottage garden flowers growing
How My Cottage Garden Grew in 2021
pink roses

Rose Fertilizer 101: What to Use & When to Apply for Show-Stopping Blooms

Struggling to get your roses to bloom? Learn the secrets to feeding your roses for a season of vibrant, show-stopping blooms with this guide to the best rose fertilizer types and application schedules. Roses are undeniably some of the most beloved garden flowers, prized for their intoxicating fragrance and captivating blooms. But nurturing them requires…
Read More Rose Fertilizer 101: What to Use & When to Apply for Show-Stopping Blooms
after the family room update showing my new round coffee table

Mastering the Cottagecore Aesthetic: Your Guide to Bringing Country Charm Indoors

Discover the secrets to bringing an enchanting cottagecore aesthetic into your home with cozy textures, vintage finds, and blooming greenery. Read on to transform your space from city slicker to country charm! Imagine stepping into a sun-dappled cottage, enveloped by the warmth of wildflowers and aged wood. Sunlight dances through lace curtains, illuminating shelves laden…
Read More Mastering the Cottagecore Aesthetic: Your Guide to Bringing Country Charm Indoors
swallowtail butterfly on liatris flower in cottage garden - flowers list that bloom in midsummer

The Ultimate Guide to Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden with Easy-Care Plants

Want to attract butterflies to your garden but short on time? This comprehensive guide reveals the best low-maintenance plants that butterflies love. Discover blooming times, light requirements, and more! Have you ever dreamt of watching a kaleidoscope of colorful wings flitting through your garden? Butterflies are not only beautiful to behold, but they’re also vital…
Read More The Ultimate Guide to Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden with Easy-Care Plants

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden
stacy ling cutting dahlias strawflowers, dahlias and zinnias in the potager garden

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  1. What a fun look down memory lane Stacy! You did so much this year and I know your new gardens are going to look even more amazing when you start working on them. Love your heart-shaped creeping phlox! I’m going to check into globe thistle. Hopefully, your days of having groundhogs in your garden are long gone! Looking forward to next year my friend.

    1. Thank you!!! I am heading over to read your post now too! I can’t wait to get started on the gardens here – there is so much to learn before I start doing stuff! I can’t wait to garden with you again this year! xoxoxo