Wednesday, July 13, 2016

English Cottage Garden Style for July GBBD - Five Years Later

An English Cottage Garden Is ...

“... above all things a place of uncontrived beauty, 
easily enjoyed, where labour is well rewarded 
and quiet pleasures satisfied.”

Ethne Clarke and Clay Perry
 English Country Gardens

It's almost eleven years since I began to realize my dream of creating an Engish cottage garden in the Poconos. On Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, July 2011 I wrote, "One of the elements of English cottage-garden style is a profusion of flowers in a variety of colors and textures. The overall effect appears 'uncontrived,' but in reality a great deal of thought goes into the choice and placement of plants. My garden has been six years in the making, and this year (for the first time) I feel I have achieved the effect I have been striving to create." I am redoing the 2011 posting with updated pictures to see how the dream continues. I note where I'm using the original photographs of those flowers still strutting their stuff. The words in bold/italics are from the original posting. It is quite difficult to define English cottage-garden style without going into its history, but some other elements include planting old-fashioned flowers, adding structures to create 'privacy,' using lots of pots of plants, making informal pathways, and using 'whimsy' to give a sense of enchantment. I went outside with my camera this morning to record what is blooming on this  Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day July 2011 and that's when it struck me that at last I have an English cottage garden. Please take a walk with me to see if those elements are really present ...

1) Plant for profusion

This is my biggest herbaceous border, filled with purple cone flower, liatris, gooseneck loosestrife, shasta dasies, and daylilies - to name a few of the perennials. More recently I removed the liatris to the entrance garden (first picture) and planted bee balm in the main border (below) ...

As soon as you enter our driveway you can see from the butterfly garden by the house-number sign that I plant for profusion. H.H. put a birdhouse on the back of the post that displays the house number.

Purple cone flower, milkweed, cleome, liatris and white phlox

2) Plant old-fashioned flowers

David Austin Rose Rosa 'Lichfield Angel"
Left to right: Goats Beard, Cleome, Yarrow 'The Pearl', delphinium, purple cone flower
Shasta Daisy Leucanthemum (photo 2011)
Lambs' Ears Stachys byzantina (photo 2011)
Phlox Paniculata 'Bright Eyes' (photo 2011)
Veronica -- I forget which one -- added last year
Campanula 'Cherry Bells'
I planted hollyhocks since the original posting

Hollyhocks are a 'must have' for an English cottage garden, so I am making them my July pick for 'Dozen for Diana.' Visit Diana's blog at Elephant's Eye on False Bay in South Africa and join in the fun.

2) Add structures such as picket fences and arbors.

The arbor into the kitchen garden has two wonderful clematis draped over it ...

Clematis Jackmanii 'Tie Dye'

The cedar fence at the back of the shade garden provides privacy and adds a vertical element to the space.

Climbing hydrangea grows over the fence and mock hydrangea over the swing

3) Pots of plants

One of many pots of annuals ...

The unusual red flower with the pointed petals is a petunia that I grew from seeds that Nancy Ondra sent me. Nancy blogs at Hayefield.

Petunia exserta, marigold and bacoba in a tub in front of the hydrangea

I display several hanging baskets. This one H.H. bid for and won at a silent auction when we were at the Pocono Garden Club Flower Show where I was guest speaker.

4) Informal pathways

The destination at the end of this pathway is a grouping of planters and an ivy in a birdcage. You will find a birdcage containing ivy in many English cottage gardens.

 5) Whimsy to create enchantment

I like to hang mirrors on fences ...

In the last five years I've added several fairy gardens. My latest whimsical creation is a simple basket on a gate containing a cute unicorn and fairy that H.H. found at the thrift store.

Miniature hosta, sedum and fairy on moss

In the collage below, some other flowers blooming in my garden on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day are (clockwise from top right) milkweed, hydrangea, coreopsis, perennial geranium, and lavender.

Photographs 2011 - similar blooms today

Here are some of the daylilies blooming today ...

The pond is looking quite lovely surrounded by cottage garden flowers ...

Looking across the main border to the pond and the rose garden.

I hope this combination of two postings isn't too confusing.  Go to the original post by clicking here and compare the pictures today with those five years ago. Do you agree my dreams of creating an English cottage garden in Pennsylvania have been realized?

Thank you, Carol, for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on your wonderful blog. On the 15th of each month, I look forward to visiting May Dreams Gardens to see what is blooming around the world.

Happy GBBD, everyone!

Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Your gardens are so beautiful, Pamela! You and I have many of the same plants. I have a large area I call my cottage garden and at times it has gotten so thick that I can barely walk through. I need to work on some thinning periodically, and I do. I started my gardens in 2004, after removing an above-ground swimming pool and the deck surrounding it. I enjoyed your post!
    Hugs, Beth

  2. It's all so very, very lovely Pam, and you have much to be proud of. You've recreated the English cottage gardens of your youth, right were you are here in the US.

  3. Wow, it's all beautiful! It's amazing how our gardens keep growing, changing and give us so much joy through the years. Very good therapy for whatever ails us.


  4. WOW, SO goal is to create a country cottage look, too.....slow going....thanks for the inspiration!

  5. So beautiful! Colorful and natural. I love it!

  6. Yes, I certainly agree! Your gardens are beautiful! I aspire to something like yours, maybe in a few years mine will look something close to yours! Congrats on a job well done!

    Jenny -

  7. Profusion is a must, gotta have blooms all summer. I like what you did with the cedar fence. Yes, your so right... five years makes a difference !

  8. So very beautiful! I love your English cottage garden!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

  9. You have such a beautiful garden. I love the structures, the arbour and the swing, with plants growing up them and I do like a bit of quirkiness in a garden like your fairy gardens, mirror and ornaments/statues.

  10. Pam-it is always a pleasure visiting your gardens and watching them mature over time. Your cottage style garden is absolutely gorgeous and the structures give it that added charm. Also thank you so much for letting me know that you are enjoying my book. You truly made my day! Happy Bloom Day and thanks for the wonderful tour!

  11. I am so envious of the garden that you have created. It truly looks like a paradise.

  12. Hi Pam, I do think you've nailed it! I remember reading your blog when things were just coming together and wow, what a masterpiece it has turned out to be! Happy GBBD!

  13. Pamela, your garden is a true masterpiece. There are so many achingly beautiful photos here, each one is gorgeous.

  14. Hello Pam, how lovely to see the transformation the last 6 years in your garden! I hope I will have my new garden more or less presentable eventually, but a garden is never finished, there are always tweaks and improvements that can be done and I am sure you are still tweaking yours :-)
    I loved your hollyhocks, I haven’t grown them yet but hope to include some next year, and I must say a garden in Pennsylvania is probably much more suitable for Echinacea than a true English garden – over here most of us struggle to grow them for more than the first season.
    Happy GBBD!

  15. I love your profusion of plants. It really reminds me of being home in PA. You have better growing conditions, soil especially. I like your rabbit in the mirror. A nice vignette.