How To Plant A Cottage Garden That Feels Bigger Than It Is
In Northern California coastal regions, a cottage garden hedges its bets by including drought-tolerant grasses amongst the hydrangea, and relying on Mediterranean flora for inspiration. A High WASP, fading family fortune to blame, may hedge some additional bets, relying on camera angles to suggest the grandeur of her childhood homes. But she will tell you in advance. You deserve that much.
So here's how to plant a cottage garden that feels bigger than it is.
Mix up your plants, unexpectedly
I'm fond of massing plants. Somewhat more structural than your archetypal cottage layout, but if there's no room for interpretation of the classics, where then is taste? Even if masses in a small garden mean 8 plants of one type, 6 of another, 12 of another - let them grow in organic shapes and entangled if they will. Here, the front yard in sun, the back yard in shade.
Lychnis, lavender, fleabane
You see that patch of brown above, through the greenery? That's my fence. On the other side of my fence are my neighbors. I do my best to pretend they aren't there. Gardeners with gas mowers and children in swimming pools thwart me on occasion, but I raise my chin and think of England.
Build paths, or suggest them
These paths may wend their way only around a raised bed, or through a shrub or two to the back fence. Which might be nearer in reality than you pretend. Again, front yard in sun, back yard in shade.
Lavender, lamb's ears, upright rosemary
Ferns, native Californian iris, bleeding heart, cotoneaster, hydrangea, bay laurel
My cutting garden followed the sun to my front yard. Luckily Northern California also supports gardening eccentrics with visible tomatoes. For cut flowers, I have one rosebush. And since I can see it out my kitchen window, for the most part I cut roses only in my imagination, preferring they live on outside rather than drop petals with a tiny thwap on my kitchen counter.
The rose. I do not know its name.
Cherry tomato plant, basil, cuban basil, marjoram, thyme, parsley, mint, more mint. Still more mint.
Things left undone, projects for the future, empty containers are all markers of hope. Anything unfinished is a vista, of sorts.