The original cottage garden was created to provide food for the family and so was mainly planted with vegetables with a few flowers for decoration. Over the years this developed into the informal mixture of flowers and vegetables which we recognize as the cottage garden style. In her article which I found on the Sensible Gardening website Lynne Cherot describes this as a “free flowing, random abandonment of plants” as opposed to the more formal English style.
The term English flower garden tends to conjure up for most of us a free flowing, random abandonment of plants. Although there are many much more formal English garden styles, I think I will concentrate on the more free spirited style of English cottage garden flowers.
The English flower garden is an informal combination of many plant types. Annuals, perennials , herbs, vegetables, shrubs and vines all co-mingle together in a casual manner. Cottage gardens also make use of features such as gates, fences, arbors, birdbaths, benches or trellises. Placed together you get a whimsical feel in this type of garden.
When planting an English garden use what we generally term as ?old fashioned? plants. Some examples are tea roses, foxgloves, delphiniums, asters, daisies, hollyhocks,veronicas or phlox. Pick a mixture of different colours and heights.
Incorporate annuals along with your perennials, such as violas, snapdragons, sunflowers, stocks and so on. Many of these English country garden flowers are self seeders which is helpful in maintaining this style of garden. Allow these plants to form seed in the fall and distribute the seeds around your garden. Next year you will be rewarded with a new crop of seedlings growing throughout the beds randomly, as though nature herself did the sowing.
See more at Sensible Gardening