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How to Create a Classic Cottage Garden
These quintessential elements can help you achieve that charming garden style.
Whether gardening is your go-to hobby, or you’re just starting to grow your green thumb, the classic cottage garden is not far from reach. Some staple elements can transform your yard from basic to beautiful. Monrovia horticultural craftsmen share their list of must-haves to make your floral dreams come true. Don’t Skip the Sculptures Obelisks,... Keep Scrolling
Written by Jickie Torres
Photography provided by Monrovia & Bret Gum

Whether gardening is your go-to hobby, or you’re just starting to grow your green thumb, the classic cottage garden is not far from reach. Some staple elements can transform your yard from basic to beautiful. Monrovia horticultural craftsmen share their list of must-haves to make your floral dreams come true.

Don’t Skip the Sculptures

Obelisks, orbs and similar architectural statuary have roots in the English country manor gardens. Scattered around the garden near informal plantings of roses, Monrovia’s climbing purple Betty Corning Clematis and eye-catching big ball Alliums, they become casual accents amid the plants.

Lush green yard with neutral colored picket fence in the background and metal sculptures artistically placed on the grounds.
Decorations aren’t just for the inside of the house. Use your interior design mind on your garden to add some fixtures and antique pieces to keep your décor flowing from the living room to the backyard. Courtesy of Monrovia.

Picket Fence Goals

In early American gardens, this fence kept children in and farm animals out of the dooryard. Pointed pickets discouraged chickens from roosting on the fence. In Victorian times, many gardeners upgraded from pickets to cast or wrought iron. This makes both fence types suitable for the style.

White picket fence with pink roses growing in front of it.
A backyard dinner party awaits you right past this lovely picket fence overgrown with lovely pink roses. Photo by Bret Gum.

Pave The Way

According to the Monrovia website, “The romantic English cottage garden is the ancestor of American country. Both were born in the spaces around ordinary homes filled with extraordinary flowers. These are not pretentious plantings, but collections of beloved plants grown both for their beauty and practical uses.” In that vain, rough edge stone pavers where moss is allowed to seep in between the spaces enhances the organic garden feel.

Cobbled stone path with moss growing around the cracks surrounded by pink, purple and yellow flowers and an ornate wooden chair.
Putting some stones down gives your garden that extra thoughtfulness and allows for you to entertain in your outdoor area. Throw a dinner party or have the family over without having to worry about mowing the lawn. Photo courtesy of Monrovia.

Gate Chic

Before automobiles, visitors tied their carriage horses at the front gate to the dooryard. The vine- or rose- shrouded arbor made it more comfortable for the animals to wait in the shade or protected from the rain.

A lush lawn and a gorgeous hillside of vibrant varying colors of flowers.
Let your flower bushes get a little wild. Overgrown flower bushes can be beautiful and give off a more natural look to your garden. Photo courtesy of Monrovia.

Secret-Garden Charm

Clouds of white hydrangea spilling over an Adirondack chair and large billowing planters of boxwood and ivy help add to the whimsical mystery of the pea-gravel-framed path to the garden gate. Ferns, peonies and hemlock are also great plants for creating the lush look.

A light green Adirondack chair surrounded by an overgrown garden near a path leading to a stone wall with a black door.
Mix up your flower variety for more color and texture. Don’t worry about making each side of the path match. Get creative with your selection and let everything grow together. Photo courtesy of Monrovia.

White Lattice

This woodwork is an elegant way to screen a view or offer privacy without sacrificing air movement. For outdoor living, or in the era before air conditioning, this was a common and welcome building material and, today, provides a backdrop for many cottage gardens.

A blue exterior wall juxtaposed to a brick sidewalk with a rod iron decorative bicycle leaned against a white lattice design.
Beach cottage charm at it’s finest, latticed white wooden accent on an outer wall and a precious rod iron bicycle plant holder. Photo by Bret Gum.

Easy, Simple, and Functional

Monrovia experts say that the cottage garden tends to have a mix of bloomers and wildflowers. Mimic this feel with loose plant beds and let blooms spill into walkways and over lawns for a relaxed natural look. Also, let flowers and herbs mingle naturally—historically, cottage gardens were the tool chest of the woman of the house, filled with her favorite flowers and also the edibles she used most.

Cottage Containment

The modest lifestyle of cottage gardeners did not afford luxury items. Inexpensive red clay flowerpots became the standard of the day. Homemade wood window boxes were a popular decoration for simple, functional homes at minimal cost.

An outdoor shelf decorated with terra cotta pots in bloom.
Red clay pot pretties all lined up and sprouting fresh greenery. Photo by Bret Gum.

Special Seats

Scrolled Victorian-era love seats hearken back to the Gilded garden-party age. Be sure to tuck special seating areas into your garden to encourage visitors to wander and explore. These Lacecap hydrangeas do the trick for creating a romantic backdrop. Beesia, purple lilac, bluebeard and flowering quince would work too.

An intricately designed bench nestled beneath an overgrowth of hydrangeas.
Whether you like to entertain or just relax outside after a long day, some simple seating can give your garden some dimension and usefulness. Courtesy of Monrovia.

Shed Style

The coveted garden shed is an investment for the garden both in budget and space, however adding a special outbuilding whether it serves as a gardener’s cottage, office or artists studio is a way to add that desirable cottage wow-factor.

Vibrant green yard with a cottage style shed. The open shed door is welcoming and beautiful flowers grow up the side of the wall tying the shed into the yard.
If you’re an avid DIY-er, this shed is a perfect project for you. Although you can purchase a simple wood shed, building the shed yourself can give you room to choose the wood you like and the style you want to achieve. Photo courtesy of Monrovia.

For more about classic garden styles and the perfect plants to fit each look, visit

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on a How to Design a Garden by Color! Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get your daily dose of cottage inspiration! 

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