|A Stylized Traditional Cottage Garden|
Photo by Peter Whitcomb
Maybe my thoughts about over-charming the garden are slightly elitist, but I honestly believe the concept of the "cottage garden" is getting lost.
In very early cottage garden history, the gardens were created for sustenance. Poor crofters filled every bare patch of earth on their tiny plots with cabbages, potatoes, fruits and so forth. Flowers were brought in from the woods and roadsides, but only if space allowed and if they were plants that made good companions for other plants. We learned a lot of wise garden lore from those early cottage gardeners. They had all sorts of tricks to extend the season, keep critters from nibbling in the carrot patch, saving space and everything we ever wanted to know about companion planting. The gardens may not have been big on style, but they were certainly big on function. By the 19th century, the cottage garden had evolved into the traditional floriferous cottage garden we know today. It still has the abundance, but it's got style as well.
One might view the cottage garden as an ever-evolving tradition, from a garden of bountiful sustenance to one that offers bountiful flowers, to one where cottagey decor is the main feature. I choose the middle ground. When it comes to adorning my cottage garden, less is more. When it comes to planting out my cottage garden, more is almost enough. Let the flowers, roses, and hedges tell the story.