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:

Bowered Garden Ideas

Whether you're seeking respite from the hot summer sun or longing to create a private nook to shroud you from the bustling busyness, these bowered garden ideas are just the inspiration you need. These pleasant bordered and often shady spaces come in a variety of formats and sizes, so you're sure to find the bowered garden design and planting ideas you need among the garden photos that follow.

Golden laburnums drop long panicles of bloom from overhead in this allée-style bowered garden, while from underneath, the pale lavender globes of Allium aflatuense rise to meet them. The wooden support blends in with the trunks of the laburnum trees, thus focusing attention on the plants themselves. This lovely and timeless vista ends, appropriately, at a sundial.

This bowered garden features a brick-and-stone wall with a more designed planting, for a different but no less charming effect. Espaliered flowering quinces have been trained against the wall in a fan pattern, while brightly colored primroses fill the beds at their feet. Fruit trees may also be trained in espalier fashion; the warmth of the wall allows fruit to ripen more quickly and flowers to open earlier than they otherwise would.

Garland roses spill down a wall in cheerful abandon, bedecking the geometric structure of brick and stone with floriferous swags and tresses of pristine white. Using the wall as a bower, the rose bush effectively changes the barrier's personality. The unbridled, organic flow of the roses softens the rigid, structured appearance of the wall, creating a welcoming approach to the garden beyond.

©2007 JupiterImages Corporation ©2007 JupiterImages Corporation
©2007 JupiterImages Corporation

Rich in color and wonderfully fragrant, this cultivated canopy of red, yellow, and pink roses creates a welcome cover over this walkway, which is part of a larger bowered garden. Labyrinth-like hedges shield those strolling through from the world outside.

Tom Bradnock Tom Bradnock
Tom Bradnock

Cool, shady, and almost cavelike, this bowered garden begins with a stately gateway. Beyond, trees spread their dense foliage over assorted green ferns and ground cover, and a pathway invites all to enter.

If your backyard isn't just small, it's non-existent, check out the next page for ideas on putting your flowers out front.

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

Front Garden Ideas

Why keep something so beautiful all to yourself? Increase your home's curb appeal and your neighbors' view with a colorful garden placed right out front. Cottage gardens can be at home in any smaller space, so peruse these front garden ideas and garden photos for the blossoms and planting arrangements that suit you best.

A white picket fence and gray-shingled house show off a sterling example of the New England dooryard garden, a front garden and cottage garden subtype. The brick walk and well-tended mixed plantings on either side are other characteristic features. White roses, pale-yellow Moonshine achillea, and fuzzy gray lambs' ears are featured among the plantings, which also include an assortment of shrubs and trees.

This gorgeous example of a front garden wonderfully illustrates the inventive use of containers. A selection of plants in pinks, whites, and greens -- including agapanthus, verbena, lychnis, and boxwood -- is clustered in front of a border of blooming hydrangeas and taller evergreens.

A glorious combination of formal and informal elements, this garden truly makes the most of its allotted front yard space. Twin standard bay trees with floral underplanting flank the front door, while paired containers hosting a variety of blooms are placed at intervals down the steps of the porch. In the front garden, poppies, foxgloves, lychnis, and lilies are given free rein, and an out-of-bloom wisteria vine clothes a wall with its abundance of verdure.

If trimming and pruning is not your idea of a good gardening time, perhaps our more free-flowing wild garden ideas will inspire you. Click to the next page for photos revealing a riot of crazy colors and foliage.

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

Wild Garden Ideas

Put away your trimming shears and get out the lounge chair when you opt to implement one or more of the wild garden ideas you'll find in the garden photos below. Choose a rainbow of blooming flowers and an assortment of foliage textures and shapes to make sure your wild garden catches everyone's eye -- no matter where you plant it.

Neatly trimmed boxwood is no match for the abundant growth of the lime-colored alchemilla, which flows right over the clipped hedge in what seems to be an excess of pure joie de vivre. Brilliant crimson lobelia and peonies back up the cheerful spirit of the alchemilla in this lushly growing border, containing a wide variety of mixed shrubs and perennials.

Plum, rose, green, and gold burst forth as the main colors in this wild garden, contained by a small square bed. But the deep-plum color unexpectedly comes from dark-leaved shrubs. In this lively garden, the towering poppies are supported by an underplanting of mixed perennials. Tiny heartsease are set directly in front of the central dark shrub, making it a perfect background for their dainty blossoms. The plum, green, and gold shades are repeated in the larger-scale background border.

A rainbow of daylilies, supported by rich, green hostas, and accented with bright-purple perennials offset the carefully placed bricks of this walking path with their wild, sun-seeking abandon. Such a colorful greeting is bound to bring a smile to anyone passing by.

Copyright 2005 by Mark Atwood. Copyright 2005 by Mark Atwood.
Copyright 2005 by Mark Atwood.

Attention to the height of the flowers you select for your wild garden is really the only rule that applies. In this robust wild garden example, lovely lavender and purple irises have been placed in the back, as their blossoms and spiky foliage reach closest to the sun. From their vantage point, they also provide perfect counterpoint to the golden-orange, red, and pale purple blossoms below.

This wild garden offers another example of the way varied heights and growth patterns among the selected plants can impose some semblance of order -- with minimal gardener effort -- on even the wildest of gardens. An exotic blend of shapes, colors, and sizes add interest to this densely packed garden, which includes black-eyed susans and bright-red impatiens.

Are you loving this outrageous melange of colors and shapes? Beautiful blooms can enhance the inside of your home, as well as the yard, so continue to the next page for ideas on creating your very own cutting garden.

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

Cutting Garden Ideas

If you appreciate flowers enough to create a garden in your yard, why not give yourself the option to bring beautiful blooms inside? The cutting gardens you'll see in the garden photos below are precisely planted to serve two purposes: outdoor beauty and indoor bouquets.



Rosy-purple liatris and pale-yellow achillea are a subtle combination that shows well against the background of the house and will provide material for cutting should the gardener so desire. The tall feathery plumes of an ornamental grass echo both the color and the vertical lines of the house's architecture, while another ornamental grass forms rosettes for the edging in the foreground. These grasses will also make an excellent complement to bouquets of blossoms created from the cutting garden's bounty.

©2007 JupiterImages Corporation ©2007 JupiterImages Corporation
©2007 JupiterImages Corporation

Tulips planted in smooth sections give the yard a whimsical look -- and imagine the elegant arrangements they'll create. Although it includes but one type of flower, this cutting garden features a variety of colors and heights to ensure variety both indoors and out.

There's nothing bashful about the bold combinations of color and form featured in this cutting garden. Rich ruby-red tulips, periwinkle-blue hyacinth, and golden daffodils each offer beautiful bouquet options on their own, as well as endless possibilities for combination arrangements.

As long as you're bringing your garden inside, why not make it even more useful? On the next page you'll see how gardens can be created with edible delights -- making them an extension of the kitchen.

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

Kitchen Garden Ideas

Whether you have a larger backyard garden space or just a little corner of the patio, don't be afraid to make your garden work for you as a kitchen garden. Select some herbs and edible flowers for planting and you'll have something nice to smell and taste, as well as admire with your eyes.

Historically, many cottage gardens combined all types of garden plants together: annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees, shrubs, herbs, and even fruits and vegetables. Taking a leaf or two from this tradition, modern gardeners can practice companion planting -- combining disparate sorts of plants that grow well together -- and make even the working parts of gardens beautiful as well as useful. This excellent example of a kitchen garden arranges its vegetables in neat geometric beds with growing frames, while shrubs, vines, and a large trellis provide aesthetic accents.

Useful gardening is possible even in the smallest of spaces. Here, an herb garden in miniature flourishes delightfully in a terra-cotta strawberry pot, providing fresh chives, mint, and parsley as condiments for the table. The nasturtium and the rambunctious vines of perennial pea growing at right repeat the abundance of the herb pot on a larger scale, while the lavender pea flowers match the color of the chive blossoms.

Whether an assortment of colors, a spot of shade, or a source for bouquets and seasonings is your goal, one of these cottage garden ideas is sure to help you along -- especially if you don't have too much space. Happy planting!

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