In his introduction to The Cottage Gardener’s Companion: A Seasonal Guide to Plants & Plantings for Informal Gardens, Douglas Taylor said that cottage gardens are like horses. They are easier to recognize than they are to describe:
“Perhaps the chief hallmark [of a cottage garden] is informality.”
He observed that the old cottage gardens did not have lawns because there were no lawns when the cottage garden tradition began.
“As to plants, there are of course the traditional old favourites which have been grown for hundreds of years:
and many more. …
“One certainty about cottage gardens is that every available square inch of ground was used. Vegetables and flowers crowded happily together….” pgs. 6-7.
At Better Homes and Gardens Online, cottage gardeners are advised to grow “old-fashioned flowers” in the cottage garden:
Grow Old-Fashioned Flowers in Cottage Gardens
Cottage gardens aren’t about new varieties. They’re usually filled with the same traditional favorites your grandmother would have grown. Some popular examples include:
The 18 Best Plants for Cottage Gardens
coral bells [heuchera]
Summer Cottage Garden Plan
Stately delphiniums are the backbone of this colorful cottage garden plan.