The English Cottage Herb Garden

 

Utility blended with beauty. Cottage gardens started out as a practical means to a necessary end. In France, they were called Un jardin potager. In Early American history, they were called Kitchen Gardens. During World War II, they were called Victory Gardens.

But, it is the image of the quaint English thatched cottage with a riot of colorful flowers just outside the front door that is most often associated with the term Cottage Gardening.

 

Cottage gardens were first defined as land that was worked by the owner.  Fresh fruits and vegetables were often miles away.  Thus, these little postage stamp gardens were originally planted with utilitarian plants like fruit trees and vegetables. Sometimes the lowly herb was included, almost as an afterthought. These herbs were often more of a medical necessity than the seasoning to make a grand meal.

As life progressed and access to fresh produce and modern medicines improved, these gardens started to include more flowers. Today, the image of a cottage garden conjures up copious amounts of fabulous flowers flowing around the garden gate and spilling over the arbor. Many old timer plants are free seeders and produce babies for the next year in great quantity. These can be moved or left depending on your desire and energy level! The six flowers/herbs below are carefree and perfect to get your own cottage garden up and growing. They will survive the winter in zone 5 and up.

SANTA BARBARA DAISY, HYSSOP, ENGLISH LAVENDER, GIANT CATMINT, CINDERELLA ROSE, AND VERONICA

Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron Karvinskianus)

Filling the garden with mounds of little white daisies, this plant starts blooming early in spring and continues until frost. We like to cut it back mid season to keep it from getting too straggly but it is not necessary. It makes a nice under planting for miniature roses like Cinderella. It can also be used as a ground cover. It is very tough and can take some foot traffic without being damaged. Where winters are too cold for it to survive, make sure to let it bloom and set seeds so it can resprout the next spring.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

An under used plant, Hyssop is makes a nice front of the border plant. Both blue and pink varieties bloom for most of the gardening season. Hyssop should be pruned into a little globe after bloom. Bees and butterflies love this plant which adds great life to the garden. Both colors look nice when planted near the Giant Catmint. It is also very pretty planted next to tricolor garden sage. The slightly minty flowers may be used as a garnish in salads or stir-fries.
 

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Fragrant, beautiful, edible and easy to care for, English Lavenders look good planted in mass, singly as a focal point., or, as in this garden, with other plants of complimentary colors and textures. Lavenders like good drainage and full sun. In humid climates, consider planting them in mounds or raised beds and leave air space between it and its neighbor. Lavender wands may be harvested anytime, but the best quality buds are harvested when the flowers have opened about a third of the way down the stalk. By the second fall, English Lavenders need to be pruned back into the leaves. Shaping the plant at this time will produce a tidy bloomer in the spring. Never cut back into wood that shows no leaves. The plant may or may not force new growth. Lavender can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. A simple recipe is to make Lavender sugar by taking several lavender wands and covering with sugar for a week. Keep tightly closed and use for tea or coffee.

Giant Catmint (Nepeta grandiflora)

Not to be confused with its feline pleasing cousin, catnip, Catmint is a beautiful ornamental plant with a fragrance reminiscent of cinnamon stick. A herbaceous perennial, the new growth of Catmint is some of the first to show itself in the spring. With spires of purplish blue flowers in late spring and again in early fall, this is a prime nectar source for butterflies. When the first flush of flowering is through in the spring, cut the plant back almost to the ground.

Cinderella Micro Miniature Rose  (Rosa cv.)
Romantic roses spilling over and around the garden in their carefree way provide mind's image that is often associated with Cottage Gardens. However, many of our modern gardens are smaller which makes the miniature rose the perfect choice. This rose blooms early in spring and keeps on blooming its perfectly petite pale pink blooms right up until frost.  Since Cinderella can grow to three feet and blooms so prolifically,  it provides a lot of focus in the garden which is what cottage gardening is all about.

Veronica (Veronica spicata)

Veronicas are straight spikes of pure color. A good choice for the front of the garden, Veronica is a carefree long lived herbaceous perennial. Cutting the spikes back almost to the ground after the first bloom, will encourage a second bloom in the fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Cottage Herb Garden Plants: Achillea, Fennel, Digitalis, Gaillardia, Gypsophylla, Lovage, Mullein, Parsley, Rudbeckia, and just about any other flowering plant or culinary herb!

BOOKS TO READ ON THIS SUBJECT:

RODALE'S ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERBS
by Ellen Phillips

LANDSCAPING WITH HERBS
by James Adams

THE COTTAGE GARDEN
by Twigs Way

CREATING A COTTAGE GARDEN IN NORTH AMERICA
by Stephen Westcott-Gratton

HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH HERB GARDEN
by Kay N. Sanecki

ROSEMARY VEREY'S GOOD PLANTING PLANS
by Rosemary Verey

THE LAVENDER GARDEN 
by Robert Kourik
Excellent information on varieties of Lavender 
and cooking with Lavender

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERBAL MEDICINE
by Andrew Chevalier
Hands on information for using Lavender 
and Feverfew medicinally

HERBAL TREASURES
by Phyllis Shaudys
Extensive crafting information for everything from
Lavender wands to Lavender sachet.

 

English Cottage Herb Garden Six Pack
Add a Kitchen Herb Garden Six Pack to these flowering herbs and you will be close to the original concept of the English Cottage Garden.

English Cottage Herb Garden Six Pack
$32.95

Quantity

 
 

Save by purchasing our English Cottage Herb Garden Kit!  Receive The English Cottage Herb Garden Six Pack and the book Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits for one low price!

English Cottage Herb Garden Kit
$39.95 

Quantity

 

Or, if you have a lot of space to grace, try our Thirty-Six Pack Economical English Cottage Garden Assortment, a mix of flowers and culinary herbs in the true tradition of English Cottage Gardening. $59.40.

Please note that we make substitutions in Herb Gardens when something is out of stock.

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