Cottage Gardens - Pasquesi Home and Gardens
containers, topiary cottage garden topiary

Cottage Gardens

Cottage gardens celebrate chaos and color!

Exuberant color with carefree plantings is the formula for ‘cottage garden’ charm. While other garden styles often feature formal lines and orderly plantings, ‘cottage gardens’ revel in color and togetherness. The result is a more relaxed type of gardening, focusing more on the passion of gardening than strict rules. If you choose low maintenance plants and those well-suited for your space, you’ll be able to enjoy more without the work. The new mantra is…leave the petals where they fall, no excessive pruning, and allow the plants to mingle and get to know each other. The only rule is… there are no rules!

In order to create a cottage garden, plant an abundant selection of low maintenance, flowering shrubs, climbing roses, perennials, annuals and... don’t forget the spring bulbs! Plan and choose plants wisely to ensure continuous blooming from March until late fall. Perennial plants such as iris, coneflowers, foxglove, and spring bulbs such as peony-type tulips, grape hyacinth and ‘lollipop’ alliums will all contribute to a classic, cottage-style garden.

Classic Cottage Garden Perennial Favorites… The best formula for a long blooming, perennial garden is to have a mixture of perennial ‘classics’ and also something unexpected such as a topiary. If you can, incorporate pollinator-friendly flowers to attract butterflies to your landscape


Coneflower ‘Magnus’ (Echinacea purpurea)The most popular purple Coneflower of all time! Giant, 6-inch-wide flowers with rosy, purple petals surround a copper central cone. The deep-green foliage contrasts beautifully with the flowers. Attracts butterflies.

Mature Size: 2 to 3 ft. tall; clump-forming

Bloom time: Early, mid-, and late summer

Light: Full to part sun

Water: Water regularly in extreme heat.

Soil: Average, dry and well drained

Reasons to love it: Attracts birds, butterflies & hummingbirds. Excellent cut flowers. Tolerates drought, deer, heat, humidity and poor soil.


Coneflower ‘Rainbow Marcella’ (Echinacea ‘Butterfly Series’)The curved petals of this coneflower are bathed in sunset hues. Raspberry pink surrounds the large cones. Petals are tipped in muted orange to golden yellow… and age to pink. It’s a relatively short, compact coneflower with strong stems… a real butterfly magnet in a sunny border.

Mature Size: 15 – 18” tall

Bloom time: Late June until frost

Light: Full sun to mostly sunny

Water: Average

Soil: Tolerant of dry soil

Reasons to love it: Drought, deer and humidity tolerant. Nice cut flowers. Attracts butterflies.


Roses: Look for multi-petal roses that resemble the romantic characteristics of the English rose… without the maintenance. Double Knock Out roses, OSO Easy low- growing roses, Drift or Carpet groundcover roses and Climbing roses that ramble on an arbor or garden gate. Select climbing roses for arbors, garden gates and tuteurs.

Light: Full sun

Low maintenance: Disease resistant, outstanding hardiness in extreme cold and heat

Flowers: Pastel Pink, Hot Pink, Coral, Yellow, White

Blooms from summer through fall.


English Lavender: The classic British lavender, ‘Hidcote Giant,’ is hardy for our zone 5… growing up to 3 ft. tall. ‘Super Blue’ is a more compact lavender (Zone 4-8)… 12” tall. Both have a good tolerance to both heat and cold Midwest weather.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Well-draining soil is important.

Low maintenance: Disease and humidity resistant & outstanding hardiness in extreme cold and heat

Flowers: ‘Hidcote Giant’ has purple flowers; Large blue blooms on the ‘Super Blue’ lavender. Fragrant.


More plant options for a ‘Cottage Garden’ style:


  • Heliotrope
  • Cosmos
  • Hollyhocks
  • Alyssum
  • Geranium
  • Nasturtium



  • Shasta Daisies
  • Siberian Iris
  • Rudbeckia/Black-eyed Susan
  • Low maintenance Roses: Double Knock Outs, Climbing Roses, OSO Easy, Drift Roses
  • Hardy Geranium
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Garden or Groundcover Phlox
  • Foxglove
  • Clematis
  • Delphinium
  • Astilbe
  • Hostas
  • Asters
  • Yarrow
  • Virginia Bluebells
  • Ornamental Allium
  • Salvia
  • Iris



  • Hydrangeas: Smooth (‘Annabelle), Big Leaf (Endless Summer), Oakleaf (Alice) & Panicle (Vanilla Strawberry)
  • Boxwood shrubs and/or evergreen topiaries
  • Spirea ‘Bridal Wreath
  • Lilacs
  • Korean Spice Viburnum
  • Beautyberry
  • Butterfly Bush



  • Allium (a mixture of large and small varieties)
  • Squill
  • Grecian Windflower
  • Peony-like Tulip


Architectural Elements

  • Fence (picket, wattle)
  • Garden gate
  • Pathways (gravel, mulch, brick patterning)
  • Arbor
  • Containers (Casual or informal baskets, window boxes, terra cotta pots)
  • Water features (Bird bath, fountain, antique watering can)

 Photo credit: Monrovia

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