Cottage gardens appeal to the romantic in all of us. Their generous variety of plants growing together in a relatively small space speaks of bounty and life -- not to mention making for a perfectly manageable backyard garden project -- and the overall look reminds us of a simpler, gentler time.

As you explore the cottage garden ideas and assorted garden photos on the following pages, consider that the cottage garden design was also splendidly captured in the beautiful watercolors of the artist Helen Allingham; her pictures of roses growing around the doors of lovingly maintained thatched cottages and small flower gardens bursting with colorful blossoms are still part of our image of the ideal cottage garden today.

Cottage gardening is a wonderful way to manage many different plant types in a small backyard or other garden space, because the typical cottage garden displays annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, and vegetables -- all growing quite happily together with an effect of controlled chaos. With cottage gardening, even a rooftop garden or container garden in an urban setting can have the refreshing feel of the country.

Cottage gardens that emphasize their regions' traditional styles of architecture and design have special charm. The flavor of the southeastern United States is caught in this front cottage garden with its elaborate wrought-iron balcony, beautiful as a black-lace mantilla. Azaleas in pink and white, rows of potted geraniums, and a windmill palm also grace the scene.

Looking to create a garden escape? The soothing, shady confines of a bowered garden may be just what you need to hide away. Continue to the next page to get inspired.

A cottage garden is just one way to go with your digging and planting, for more gorgeous garden ideas, try one of these: