The cottage garden surrounds a seemingly ancient romantic ruin, which was built just over 25 years ago to look like the remnant walls of a tumbledown cottage.
Visitors often say it is their favourite part of the garden. It combines great swathes of colour with generous planting. In the height of summer it would be hard to find a single space to place another seed.
Cottage garden planting is very hard to get right
Creating a garden that looks as though it has been carelessly put together and designed by nature is really quite tricky. The staging of this part of the garden requires more time than is spent on any other section of the garden.
It has been maintained by the same gardener since it was created, you may see Hazel here tending the plants! The long flowering season of the cottage garden from April to October is due to a diverse range of planted material as well as taking advantage of what arrives by itself – we allow certain British natives to seed around for early colour, some such as forget-me-nots and campions in profusion, only to be ruthlessly removed when the space is wanted for something else.
The season for this area starts with forms of geum and aquilegia. By the middle of May the first poppies are in flower, joined shortly by foxgloves and the first astrantias and Centaurea montana. Camassias and a pale lemon flowered form of field buttercup, Ranunculus acris, link the cottage to the meadow beyond.
By mid summer the mixture in the cottage garden is richer still with Athemis tinctoria in shades of rich yellow to almost white. Other perennials include Knautia macedonica, various potentillas, forms of Salvia nemorosa, Lychnis coronaria, Oenothera and Nepeta. Colour comes also from skeletal tracery of Verbena bonariensis and annuals sown and planted into gaps. Most striking of these are the corn marigolds, blue flax and deceptively delicate Gilia tricolor.
The colourful wands of Dierama in July hover above the lower plantings whilst slender stems of the pale starry-flowered Bidens heterophylla combines with asters for colour later on.