Skip to main content
Creating a Vintage Style Cottage Garden

Creating a Vintage Style Cottage Garden

Posted by Jaci Cutforth on Aug 5th 2020

Imagine having a garden that just cries out to be sat in. Somewhere you can sit outside in the early mornings with your cup of coffee and nothing but the sounds of the birds keeping you company. What an amazing place to have a moment of reflection and gratitude before you start off your day. You could sit out there and entertain friends, enjoying the fruits of your labor or simply enjoy looking at the window at a masterpiece that takes minimal effort but provides maximum pleasure. 


A vintage-style cottage garden would hit all of these boxes. No sharp lines or manicured lawns, just flowers and plants growing wherever they find a spot, just how nature intended. And let me just add, you can throw veggies in there as well!

Cottage gardens are one of my favorite types of gardens. Because we focus so much on vegetables I tend to have a mix of Potager and Cottage gardens. That's the great thing though, you can go all out cottage garden or mix in other styles as well to meet your specific need.

Today we will look at some tips to help you create the perfect vintage style cottage garden.

Add a Picket Fence
Does a white picket fence come to mind when you think of the perfect vintage-style cottage garden? We bet it does! It adds a sense of nostalgia and is perfect for separating off areas of your garden - perhaps the main garden from your vegetable patch. Accessorize it with pastel-colored bunting or hang some pretty buckets off the fence filled with flowers.

It isn't practical for us to have a picket fence around all of our gardens but I still like me a little picket fence. Me and my daughter made this little fence a couple of years ago. I just added a bird house, another great cotage garden elemt, on a post behind it. Once I finish painting it I will show you. Too cute!

Work with what you have and don't box yourself in. 

Wildflowers
Scatter handfuls of wildflower over your flower beds and let them grow wild! Before you know it, your garden would be a riot of color, perfect for cutting and displaying in pretty vases and mugs indoors so you can really get the most out of them. If you prefer to skip the wild flowers try flowers that self sow. They replant them selves and the new seedlings will be popping up come spring waiting to make their smiling faces seen. Heirloom varieties are the best for self sowing.

My Favorite self sowing Flowers
Calendula
Verbena
Petunia
Chamomile
Scabiosa
Bachekor's button
California poppies
Sweet Willaim/ Dianthus
Lark Spur

Stone Paving
Regular concrete slabbing is practical, but let’s face it, it is not always the most attractive of designs. Furthermore, it would jar with the randomness and natural feel of a cottage garden. If you need a hard floored area, have a look at stone paving. It is practical but the unevenness of the design fits perfectly. Add some flowers from a nursery like Calloway’s Nursery to create an area you just can’t wait to sit out in with your loved ones.

Bricks work beautifully too. Do you notice how the plants are spilling over the edges of the beds? That is a common feature throughout all cottage gardens.

Water features
Enjoy the sound of water gently trickling? While you might not be able to add in a babbling brook or little stream into your garden (if only!), you can add a water feature for a relatively inexpensive alternative. If you fancy getting really creative and rustic, an old bucket and a garden tap or hose could be a great little feature. Even a bird bath can be a water feature. Thanks to technology you can add a solor powered fountain to your birdbath for a very affordasble price. Now you have a fountain my friend!

Consider repurposing. I currently working on turning an old metal object (I'm not sure what it is but I see a bird bath in it) into a bird bath that I will put one of those soalar fountains in. Grab an old metal tub from the flea market or second hand store a create a mini water garden. This can be done in just about any size. It all depends on what you are looking for. Be creative and give it a try!

Ornamental features
Think about what you might find dotted around a cottage garden. You would probably find birdbaths, old urns, and statues. These don’t have to be expensive - in fact, looking around old flea markets and yard sales may throw up some proper vintage ones. The more chips and missing chunks, the more unique it can look! I have found decorative bird cages perfect for popping a planter in, lanterns, urns and planters. Be patient because you may not find anything on your first trip. Don't give up, keep checking and soon enough you will have a lovely collection to add to your garden.

Add Planters
I mentioned planted pots above, but they don’t have to be ACTUAL planters. Old gumboots, watering cans, wheelbarrows, and wire baskets can makeexcellent containers for flowers and plants, and best of all, they cost nothing - helping your pocket and the environment as well.

A few thing we have used:
Old metal chicken feeders and waterers
Galvanized metal bucktes and tubs
Enameled buckets, pots, and bowls
Old coal/ash buckets
Old wire basket from deep freezers

More Flowers
There are some flowers that seem to sing cottage garden. They are relatively easy to care for and will make you smile every time you look their way.

Hollyhocks
Foxglove
Columbine
Daisy
Daylilly
Iris
Roses

Lark Spur
Cleome
Sweet peas
Capanula
Lupine
Delphinium
Phlox

Don't be afraid to add vegetables to your vintage cottage style garden! You can still get the look and feel of a cottage garden with some vegetables poked in here and there. Now you have the best of both worlds.

Thanks for coming by today and hanging out with me!

Happy planting,

P.S. Before you go be sure to sign up fo r my mailing list below. I would hate for you to miss out on more great posts like this one!