How to achieve a cosy cottage garden, the hottest trend for 2021

Is YOUR garden passé? Experts say 2021 is all about ‘undone’ borders bursting with ‘quintessentially British’ blooms as the #cottagecore trend sweeps the outdoors – and reveal how even city dwellers can cheat the look

  • ‘Cottagecore’ gardens is the latest gardening trend of 2021 around the UK 
  • Royal Horticultural Society have said more people after cosy cottage garden
  • Can be achieved with layers of flowers of different colours and lots of foliage  

The warmer weather and lockdown restrictions mean we’ll all be spending more time in our gardens as the weather warms up – but your outdoor space might already be looking a bit outdated. 

Speaking to FEMAIL, experts including Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society, say this summer it is all about relaxed gardens with ‘undone’ borders that are bursting with ‘quintessentially British’ blooms. 

‘In terms of colours, we’re talking pastels, with lots of blues, lots of bright green foliage and then highlights of stronger colours, and softening with white flowers,’ he said. 

‘That’s the best part of the joy of it because there can be an awful lot of snobbery in gardens, but in cottage gardens, you mix those things as you please, you won’t have to worry about colours.’

It is part of the wider #Cottagecore trend which emerged over lockdown and saw nostalgic millennials frolicking in fields and foraging for food in gingham frocks as they sought an escape from the humdrum of daily life. 

Now the softer, gentler approach to design is heading outside, with cottage-inspired outdoor spaces to be found everywhere from the countryside to city balconies. 

Here, gardening experts reveal the key elements of any good cottage garden – and how you can recreate them in even the most modest of spaces…   

 1. Be laid back in your planting

Experts have revealed how you can achieve the cottage garden look, which was named one of the leading gardening trends of 2021 by the Royal Horticultural Society (pictured: a cottage garden with a wild variety of blooms and foliage)

More freedom exist when planting flowers for the garden, as Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural society explained to FEMAIL.

‘We’re talking about closely packed plants, that flower over a long period, and that is usually in terms of cottage gardens, flowers that come up each spring and die each winter.

‘Those are massed together, and they’re carefully arranged – not with a formal border – kind of all jumbled all together, and people just choose juxtaposition they think that they like and if they don’t they change it the next year,’ he added. 

‘So it’s all those easy to grow, cheap plants like Achilleas, Lupins, Delphiniums and Poppies.

‘As well as the flowers, people mix in a lot of kitchen gardens of plants, like herbs, like lavender and rosemary and thyme, which are extraordinary pretty in cottage gardens,’ he said.  

‘It’s very much an informal thing and then comes the autumn plant lots of bulbs for spring and for the winter you can try to have a few evergreens as well, things like lavender and rosemary,’ he said, before adding: ‘bay trees are extremely popular.’ 

2.Opt for quintessential British blooms

Pick quintessentially British blooms such as roses (pictured) to keep your cottage traditional and colourful

In order to achieve the look of a traditional British cottage garden, bank on quintessential British blooms like roses and delphiniums, which will add beautiful pastel hues to the greenery in the garden.

But Guy Barter added that a few plants coming from abroad had also become accepted as part of the British landscapes, such as tulips, which originally came from Holland. 

‘The funny thing about Britain, we haven’t got a very good native flora ourselves,’ he said. 

‘Although it’s nice to put native plants like primroses, our gardens would be rather dull if we didn’t have some exotic flowers. Usually, plants from abroad make up a large portion of out gardens,’ he explained.  

‘Pinks and carnations are quintessential British plants, they are highly suitable to the cool, moist climate,’ he said. 

‘They’re scented and scent is such an important thing in a cottage garden,’ he added. 

3. Add fruit trees for height and dimension

Fruit trees such as Apple Trees, pictured, are great in any garden and suit large gardens like smaller gardens because you can pick the size of their roots 

To add dimension and height to your outdoor space, fruit trees are best, as their blooms will add to the ‘undone’ aesthetic, while also adding a splash of colour to the garden. 

‘Apples are certainly the best and easiest fruit for British weather conditions, and the nice thing about apple is that you can buy them on the dwarfing root stock,’ Guy said, explaining the roots determine the size of the tree, and that medium to small trees are preferred in suburban gardens. 

‘Apples are certainly fantastic, they look pretty as well, fruits look pretty in the garden before you harvest them, and the flower look pretty as well,’ he said. 

They are delightful, which is why they are the most popular plant in Britain with the exception of only roses,’ he added. 

‘Pears are also very good, particularly in that warmer, sunnier areas, if you live in a city, pears do very well.  

He also gave some suggestions for rarer trees, such as medlar trees and quince trees, which produce unusual fruits you won’t find in the shop. 

‘They’re a bit of an acquired taste but should be considered, he said.  

4. Potted plants for smaller spaces

Plants and cut flowers are great if you don’t have a lot of planting space and like to move colours and style around all year long (pictured)

If you don’t have a large garden, you can still achieve that cottage aesthetic with planters.  

‘Garden pots are always going to be a good look, don’t be shy of scaling these up, and position them where they can indicate the start of a pathway, or the turn of a corner,’ interior design expet Benji Lewis said. 

‘Where space might be in shorter supply, you can still include Cottagecore elements,’ he said. 

‘When it comes to pots I would likely choose terracotta – those glazed ones that suggest that farmhouse holiday in Provence, filled with something the bees will love, then pop a climbing rose in another pot and train it over the door,’ he added. 

Guy agreed: ‘A lot of people like to spice things up a bit by having containers here and there, especially for herbal plants,’ he said. 

‘In a smaller garden, your planting possibilities are more  limited than in a bigger suburban garden or a cottage garden in the country,’ he admitted. 

‘You can pop and shift containers filled with bright plants around too, so if you have taken a shine to a blue flower that doesn’t quite go where you want it to, you can take the pot and put it somewhere else,’ he said. 

He said trees such as red and white currants, gooseberries and blackcurrant as well as raspberries would work best in a smaller garden. 

‘Uf you got a very teeny teeny garden you got alpine strawberries which can go almost anywhere,’ he added.

5. Quaint garden sheds for larger spaces

If you have a garden shed, they can be great for entertaining and you can DIY them and paint them to suit a cottage aesthetic

‘Whereas once we might have been content to buy something off the peg, plonk it in a barely used corner and use it for storage only, we’re now exploring ways to customise these and include them to conjure additional interest in the garden as a whole,’ Benji said. 

He added that sheds are seen as ‘havens of calm,’ a place where you can relax and escape the house, and can be a great entertainment hub.  

‘Going the extra mile and choosing a painted shed or electing to paint the shed yourself plays further into the understanding of what a Cottagecore, slightly homespun look entails,’ he said. 

‘Soft blues, greens or even greiges are always a good look, but for the more adventurous, I love the idea of using a darker tone – something like Burn Black by Sanderson – red or butter yellow climbing roses against a backdrop like this would be very lovely,’ he added. 

6.Plant some bee-friendly flowers

Scented flowers and wild flowers will attract bees and butterflies, which will add some life to your garden, pictured

People will go for plants that attracts bees and other insects in a cottage garden, Guy said.  

‘People choose plants that are good for pollinators, so that you have plenty of merry buzzing bees and things that add to the life and enjoyment of the garden,’ he said. 

He said that sunflowers were great to attract bees, and that they could also help getting rid of bare spaces in your garden. 

‘There’s often patches in cottage gardens where, by design or by accident, there’s bare spots so people pop in annuals, sweet peas, for example, are an annual loved by cottage gardeners, and sunflowers are also great for that,’ he said. 

‘People also like to plant cut flowers as well, so sunflowers suit that very well, so do roses,’ he said, adding ‘roses of the less formal kind,’ such as shrub roses have been the most popular in cottages for the past 20 years’. 

7. Mix up surfaces and textures 

Interior designer Benji Lewis said that mix and match furniture that is comfy and practical, like a hammock, pictured, could work in a cottage garden

When it comes to the overall look of the garden, interior design expet Benji Lewis said a mix of surfaces and textures would work best. 

‘A combination of surfaces and textures are going to work well – the crunch of gravel, some mixed paving with mossy edges, dry stone walls, paths lined with floppy lavender – it all paints a very gentle story,’ he said. 

‘Comfort is key with garden design, and the seating you propose needs to reflect that. Morning coffee or drinks taken at a low table with a bench and armchairs is great but for mealtimes you need to gravitate to somewhere that provides appropriate seating for this purpose,’ he added. 

8. Pastels plants for cottagecore look

Guy Barter said that pastel colours were best suited to a cottage garden, but that splashes of colours and ‘softening white flowers’ could balance each other out as well, like these daffodils 

Guy explained that pastel colours would dominate the colour palette of a cottage garden, with some splashes of more vibrant hues. 

‘In terms of colours, we’re talking pastels, with lots of blues, lots of bright green foliage and then highlights of stronger colours, and softening with white flowers,’ he said. 

‘That’s the best part of the joy of it because there can be an awful lot of snobbery in gardens, but in cottage gardens, you mix those things as you please, you won’t have to worry about colours,’ he added. 

‘These plants are not as massively covered in flowers as the bedding plants. They got an awful lot of green and attractive foliage that mute any clashes,’ he revealed. 

9. Achieve a structured ‘undone look’

Guy said that green foliage worked best in the shady areas of the gardens (pictured), as well as hardy geraniums

Cottage gardens are known for a relaxed aesthetics that requires some eye for detail.  

‘Cottagecore gardens suggest that the structure of the space is random, almost accidental, but the truth is that this unlikely to be the case,’ interior designer Benji Lewis said. 

‘That’s not to say that Cottagecore gardens won’t have an informality about them but to achieve that aesthetic takes thought, time and planning,’ he added. 

Benji said that attention to detail when picking furniture was primordial when trying to achieve the attributes of a laid back cottage garden.    

Source: Read Full Article