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How to create a cottage garden: Tips from Frankie Flowers

This laid-back garden style is colourful, charming, practical and a cinch to plant. Bonus: It’s easy on your wallet too!

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Photo by Ron Evans/Getty Images

Photo by Ron Evans/Getty Images

The beauty of a cottage garden lies in its informal design, functionality and whimsical features. Centuries ago, Europe’s working class planted these gardens to support the family home: vegetables to nourish, flowers to feed the soul and herbs to cure. Today, creating one for pure enjoyment in your own yard is as easy as 1-2-3!

Top three design principles from garden guru Frankie “Flowers” Ferragine

1. Practical plants

Every plant should be easy to care for and serve a purpose — there’s no room for fussy ornamentals! For example, shrub roses provide bright, colourful blooms as well as edible rosehips that are chock full of vitamin C. Plant supports, such as arches and pergolas, should be useful above all else, with decoration taking a back seat.

2. Explosive colour

This type of garden should be a feast for the eyes. Mix mass informal plantings of coneflowers, pot marigolds, dianthus pinks and nasturtiums with loose groupings of leafy vegetables, herbs and fruit-bearing shrubs (like blueberries and raspberries) to create the look.

3. Affordable style

Choose crushed-gravel walkways and antique wash basins planted with trailing strawberries instead of manufactured pavers and expensive pots. Vintage wooden crates and claw-footed tubs are the perfect decorative elements and help create a lived-in look. Keep in mind that you’re going for a charming space of comfort instead of the grandeur and formality of a contemporary garden.

Tip: Look for plants that are disease- and insect-resistant. Replace fussy hollyhocks with long-blooming perennials like shasta daisies.

 

Frankie’s favourite flowers

Perennials: black-eyed Susan, candytuft, columbine, coneflower, day lilies, dianthus pinks, larkspur, oriental poppy

Annuals: calendula (pot marigold), nasturtiums, pansies/violas, snapdragons, sunflowers, zinnias

Herbs: basil, bergamot, creeping thyme, garlic, lavender, lemon balm, oregano, sage