Home Garden

English Cottage Garden Flowers

The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension suggests that cottage gardens started in England in the 16th century with farm laborers and tenants cultivating small areas of land near their homes to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables. Today, cottage gardening is synonymous with informal, even tangled, displays of colorful flowers and shrubs. Emulate this look in almost any garden with the right choice of plants.
  1. Dianthus

    • Probably the best known of the dianthus family are carnations, also known as pinks. Carnations are an easy-to-grow plant that is a favorite in the English cottage garden because of the long-lasting frilly-edged blooms. Another dianthus that goes well in the cottage garden is sweet William. It's a biennial, meaning that it grows for a year before flowering then dying back in the second year. Once introduced to your garden, sweet William seeds itself so easily that it comes back year after year. The University of Illinois Extension suggests combining dianthus with catmint, hardy geraniums or pansies.


    • Plumbago fits well in the cottage garden because, as the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension points out, this vine-like evergreen bush bears clusters of blue blooms. It flowers throughout the year in hotter areas and through the summer in temperate zones. Plumbago prefers full sun, and once established is drought-tolerant. It is a fast and prolific grower, capable of attaining a height of 10 feet, so it needs at least annual pruning to keep it in check. Create more plants by taking cuttings of new growth in spring and starting them in pots.

    Black-eyed Susan

    • Orange-red or yellow-petaled flowers with black centers make black-eyed Susan a natural choice for the cottage garden. It flowers in clump, creating a strong visual statement. You can grow it anywhere in the United States, although it is a perennial in the South and an annual in the North. It tolerates almost any kind of soil, but it doesn't like to be left standing in water, so good drainage is important. Grow it in full sun to get the best flower display. Plant seed discreetly in the garden after the risk of frost has passed, and it flowers in 10 to 14 weeks.