April 3, 2008
Gardens come in many styles: English cottage, Mediterranean, Japanese, Italian, American prairie, etc. My personal preference is a "cleaned up" version of English cottage style. Traditional English cottage gardens are exuberant combinations of billowing, upright and arching shapes. Plants like delphiniums, foxgloves, daisies, peonies and roses are combined in shades of pink, purple and white. I love the color scheme and the flowers, but the overall effect is a bit chaotic for my tastes. I calm things down a bit by avoiding plants with floppy forms, planting in groups, repeating plants throughout the design, and including some dark green shrubs for background structure (Otto Luyken laurels are my favorite, as there are few broad-leaved evergreens hardy in my zone 5 yard). I also look for new and improved versions of the old favorites, like David Austin's english roses (nice shrubby form, reblooming, disease-resistance), reblooming bearded iris, mildew-resistant peonies, sturdier New Millenium delphiniums, longer-blooming daylilies, hardy Endless Summer hydrangeas, and new colors of siberian iris. Add those plants together in shades of purple, blue, pink and white and hear me sigh in delight!