Perfect plants to create a cottage garden style

These are my top 12 favourite plants to grow to create a beautiful cottage garden... all selected based on their romance, subtle delicateness and pretty structure. These are my favourite reliable and productive plants to add to your garden.

1. Aquilegia ‘Clementine’
The good old Granny’s bonnet is a classic cottage garden favourite which flowers through the spring to early summer, with its nodding flowers like an elaborate hooped skirt.
 

Aster amellus ‘Veilchenkonigin’ is an excellent, deep amethyst purple, with a very long flowering season. An invaluable plant for those of us who want to keep our garden full of colour late in the year.

No autumn garden is complete without its Michaelmas daisies, simple cottage garden perennials which flower long and hard in any soil. We have chosen only the very best to include here, which all grow quickly and easily and have good mildew resistance.

3. Campanula lactifolia ‘Prichards Variety’

I was brought up on this plant - 'Prichards Variety' is a big, bushy bellflower for the back of a border and excellent for those of us who love large natural-looking flower arrangements.

No summer border or perennial cut flower patch is complete without its fair share of delphiniums – the most statuesque towering spires for any garden. Delphiniums are one of the most spectacular cut flowers you can grow. Grown from seed, this is a cheap way of introducing delphiniums into your garden and vase.

Dianthus ‘Mrs Sinkins’ is the well known, classic English garden pink with the strongest scent which will fill a whole room – incredible.

6. Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’

These perennial Wallflowers are renowned for flowering long and hard from spring right through the summer, often the first things to come into full bloom with the hellebores and daphnes. I like picking these for spring bunches too.

Foxgloves make some of the very best cottage garden early summer garden plants and cut flowers. If you pick the king flower – the main spire, you create lots of prince flowers and the plants will then go on flowering for longer. Digitalis purpurea 'Suttons Apricot' is lovely soft pink foxglove and is one of my favourite plants.

8. Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’

Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ is one of the very best perennial geraniums with large purple-blue flowers and handsome leaves which flowers for months.

Cut it back in late summer and it will quickly leaf up again, fresh and handsome as a foliage backdrop to dahlias through the autumn.

Hesperis matronalis or Dame's Violet grow amazingly happily in sun or shade. I saw an incredible sight of both the purple and white form lining both banks of a river near Thirsk in Yorkshire this year, where Dame’s violet still grows wild. Like foxgloves, it’s in drifts that it works best.

10. Hollyhock ‘Mars Magic’

When you think of a British cottage garden, you think of hollyhocks, tall, towering stems lining a path or standing either side of a gate. Alcea ‘Mars Magic’ is a towering spire of hollyhock in deep rich red.

No cottage garden is complete without its towers of lupins - 'The Pages' is a rich carmine-pink variety.

Phlox ‘David’ is one of the best of the white phloxes, with vigorous growth and medium height, with nice bright, light green leaves. The phlox in the oast garden at Perch Hill fill the whole place with that extraordinary rich and delicious scent. I love their flowers, I love their colours and I love their perfume. 

Of course there are many other varieties that you could choose to grow to help establish the romantic cottage style in your garden - rosesclematis and honeysuckles are essential for adding height and scent, and are some of my favourites to grow for cutting too.

Add in structure with a fruit tree or evergreen bush like Rhamnus alaternus, and romantic and indulgent peonies and alliums, which add colour and shape. And line your borders with pretty Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle).

For ease, sow a simple and colourful meadow seed mix like the Pictorial Meadows Pastel Mix or our bright Cottage Garden Seed Mix into your borders or a specifically prepared patch.