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Our mix and match guide to create perfect cottage garden style

By: Sherri Ribbey
Is cottage garden your style? If you want a casual, whimsical garden packed full of flowers of every shape, we have what you need.

Cottage gardens are packed with life — overflowing with flowers, in many colors, shapes and textures that attract pollinators of all types. In the past, cottage gardens were practical solutions — they provided food, herbal remedies and a little beauty. Now, this relaxed garden style is primarily for enjoyment, with a focus on flowers, but often includes herbs and vegetables tucked in here and there. There aren’t any firm rules, just pack in as much color, fragrance and flavor into the yard as possible. Though it can be a fine line between controlled chaos and jumbled mess at times, you’ll find a lot of different types of plants in a cottage garden.

Scroll down to learn about some key cottage garden elements, such as flower shape and fragrance, and check out some well-suited choices for each. Plant a handful of these eclectic flowers and you'll have that cottage charm.

Spike

From tall to small, these spike flowers turn heads, add excitement and keep the garden interesting.

Delphinium (Delphinium spp. and hybrids) (in photo) Perennial; blue, purple, white, cream or pink blooms in late spring to summer; 10 to 96 in. tall, 10 to 36 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) Biennial; pink, lavender, yellow, peach or white blooms in late spring to summer, takes part shade; 3 to 6 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) Biennial; blooms in all colors but blue in summer, biennial, easy to start from seed; 3 to 8 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 2 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Mullein (Verbascum spp. and hybrids) Perennial; yellow, white, purple, orange or pink blooms in late spring, tolerates dry, rocky soil; 1 to 8 ft. tall, 1 to 4 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Edible

Whether you want tasty fruits, nutritious veggies or fragrant herbs, edibles can look good, too!

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Bulb; lavender or white blooms in late spring to early summer, grows in part shade; 12 to 18 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Sage (Salvia officinalis) (in photo) Perennial; pebbly green or purple foliage, drought-tolerant; 24 to 30 in. tall and wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); red, white or pink blooms in mid- to late summer, fast-growing vine; 8 to 12 ft. tall, vining; cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); green leaves with colorful ribs, tolerates both cool and hot weather; 12 to 24 in. tall, 9 to 18 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Reseeder 

These plants make themselves at home almost anywhere, giving borders that overflowing look.  

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) Perennial; red and yellow blooms in late spring to early summer, shade-tolerant; 12 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); draping red, green or cream blooms in summer, seeds are edible; 24 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); pink, white, purple or bicolor blooms in summer, hummingbirds love it, deer don’t; 3 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) (in photo) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); rose-violet blooms in late spring to frost, can be aggressive; 24 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Daisy

Add a soothing feel and keep the garden from looking too frenzied with this simple shape.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) (in photo) Annual; pink, red or white blooms in summer to fall, drought tolerant; 12 to 48 in. tall, 9 to 24 in. wide; heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) Annual; golden yellow, orange, pink or cream blooms in late spring to fall, edible flowers; 1 to 2 ft. tall and wide; heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Cape daisy (Osteospermum hybrids) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white, orange, yellow, pink or purple blooms in spring or fall, best in cool weather; 8 to 20 in. tall, 10 to 20 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) Perennial; golden-yellow blooms with deep brown center in summer to fall, tolerates clay soil; 2 to 3 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Fragrance

Fragrant plants are a staple of cottage gardens. Don’t plant too many different types —  it might create an unpleasant mix.

Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white blooms in summer to fall, fragrant in the evening; 3 to 5 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Perennial; lavender, white or pink blooms in early to late summer, heat-tolerant; 1 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 5 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Rose (Rosa hybrid) (in photo) Shrub; blooms in all colors but blue in late spring to fall, not all cultivars are fragrant; 1 to 30 ft. tall, 2 to 15 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 2 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 10 to 1

Stock (Matthiola incana) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white, pink, red, purple or yellow blooms in spring, clovelike scent; 12 to 18 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Vine 

Vines add height and make the most of small spaces.

Morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) (in photo) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); blue, white, purple or bicolor blooms in midsummer to fall, reseeds; 6 to 15 ft. tall, spreading; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); yellow blooms in summer to fall, fast growing; 4 to 10 ft. tall, 1 to 4 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Clematis (Clematis spp. and hybrids) Woody vine; white, yellow, pink, blue, purple or red blooms in spring, summer or early fall, some varieties rebloom; 1 to 30 ft. tall, 3 to 8 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white blooms in midsummer, fragrant in the evening; 10 to 15 ft. tall, spreading cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1


Spike

From tall to small, these spike flowers turn heads, add excitement and keep the garden interesting.

Delphinium (Delphinium spp. and hybrids) (in photo) Perennial; blue, purple, white, cream or pink blooms in late spring to summer; 10 to 96 in. tall, 10 to 36 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) Biennial; pink, lavender, yellow, peach or white blooms in late spring to summer, takes part shade; 3 to 6 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) Biennial; blooms in all colors but blue in summer, biennial, easy to start from seed; 3 to 8 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 2 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Mullein (Verbascum spp. and hybrids) Perennial; yellow, white, purple, orange or pink blooms in late spring, tolerates dry, rocky soil; 1 to 8 ft. tall, 1 to 4 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Daisy

Add a soothing feel and keep the garden from looking too frenzied with this simple shape.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) (in photo) Annual; pink, red or white blooms in summer to fall, drought tolerant; 12 to 48 in. tall, 9 to 24 in. wide; heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) Annual; golden yellow, orange, pink or cream blooms in late spring to fall, edible flowers; 1 to 2 ft. tall and wide; heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Cape daisy (Osteospermum hybrids) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white, orange, yellow, pink or purple blooms in spring or fall, best in cool weather; 8 to 20 in. tall, 10 to 20 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) Perennial; golden-yellow blooms with deep brown center in summer to fall, tolerates clay soil; 2 to 3 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Edible

Whether you want tasty fruits, nutritious veggies or fragrant herbs, edibles can look good, too!

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Bulb; lavender or white blooms in late spring to early summer, grows in part shade; 12 to 18 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Sage (Salvia officinalis) (in photo) Perennial; pebbly green or purple foliage, drought-tolerant; 24 to 30 in. tall and wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); red, white or pink blooms in mid- to late summer, fast-growing vine; 8 to 12 ft. tall, vining; cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); green leaves with colorful ribs, tolerates both cool and hot weather; 12 to 24 in. tall, 9 to 18 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Fragrance

Fragrant plants are a staple of cottage gardens. Don’t plant too many different types —  it might create an unpleasant mix.

Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white blooms in summer to fall, fragrant in the evening; 3 to 5 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Perennial; lavender, white or pink blooms in early to late summer, heat-tolerant; 1 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 5 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Rose (Rosa hybrid) (in photo) Shrub; blooms in all colors but blue in late spring to fall, not all cultivars are fragrant; 1 to 30 ft. tall, 2 to 15 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 2 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 10 to 1

Stock (Matthiola incana) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white, pink, red, purple or yellow blooms in spring, clovelike scent; 12 to 18 in. tall, 10 to 12 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Reseeder 

These plants make themselves at home almost anywhere, giving borders that overflowing look.  

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) Perennial; red and yellow blooms in late spring to early summer, shade-tolerant; 12 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1

Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); draping red, green or cream blooms in summer, seeds are edible; 24 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Spider flower (Cleome hassleriana) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); pink, white, purple or bicolor blooms in summer, hummingbirds love it, deer don’t; 3 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) (in photo) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); rose-violet blooms in late spring to frost, can be aggressive; 24 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Vine 

Vines add height and make the most of small spaces.

Morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) (in photo) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); blue, white, purple or bicolor blooms in midsummer to fall, reseeds; 6 to 15 ft. tall, spreading; cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Canary creeper (Tropaeolum peregrinum) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); yellow blooms in summer to fall, fast growing; 4 to 10 ft. tall, 1 to 4 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 9 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1

Clematis (Clematis spp. and hybrids) Woody vine; white, yellow, pink, blue, purple or red blooms in spring, summer or early fall, some varieties rebloom; 1 to 30 ft. tall, 3 to 8 ft. wide; cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); white blooms in midsummer, fragrant in the evening; 10 to 15 ft. tall, spreading cold-hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 12 to 1


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