Our Cottage Garden progress

I took a little break over winter, but I’m back and we’re finally getting stuck into finishing our little cottage renovation. So, I thought I’d share some progress of our little cottage garden. It’s just turned spring here in the Southern Highlands, so we can finally get some more plants in.

We’ve opted for a very pretty cottage style garden and it’s a type of garden that I’ve become quite enamoured with in recent years. I love the sense of ramblingness and romanticism a cottage garden provides. Garden beds full to the brim with roses, plants spilling out over borders, and the mix of formal and informal elements. Lots of butterflies, bees and flowers like roses, hollyhocks and catmint. The closest I got to doing much of a flower garden was at our last home, which you can see here.

Our Cottage Style Garden Progress

I don’t know much about plants or horticulture, but I just love being out in the garden. Planning, planting, and creating something from scratch is so rewarding. I’m now aching to settle in one home for a while and create a garden for the long term. I’ve never lived anywhere longer than 3 years (since leaving home at 18), and truthfully, I’m ready to settle. I’d love to do this sort of cottage garden on a larger scale. For now, making over our tiny cottage garden will do!

Anyway, I thought I’d share some progress pics, even though we’re not finished yet, along with my inspiration for our cottage garden. But first, a bit of  “before and after” of the front of our cottage.

Above is how is looks now and below is how it looks when we just bought it. Not awful, but pretty bland and not much going on.

white cottage weatherboard and garden

It’s a family affair and the kids love helping out in the garden. Our little white picket fence is coming soon, so once that’s done I’ll share more of the exterior “before and after” with you.

Cottage Garden Progress - Cottonwood and Co

When Chris and I first bought the cottage, we pulled out some overgrown pittosporums and one large tree (which was impacting another nearby). Since then we’ve planted close to 30 trees, so most of our garden budget has gone on trees instead of garden beds! But we really felt it was necessary for privacy, and since the yard was fairly bare. A mix of cleveland pears, snow pears, a large maple, a large bradford pear, a flowering peach, nectarine, plum and citrus trees. 

Our potted buxus balls also went in the ground. That was slightly heartbreaking as I’ve carried them around in pots for years, but I knew its what the cottage needed. Since our budget for the garden beds is so limited, they give instant form and maturity.

Chris planting exactly where I said! ha. To be fair, he does most of the planting (the bigger stuff at least).

I’ll admit, I definitely have to fight my urge for symmetry with this cottage garden design. Placing things where I wouldn’t usually, because that’s part of the charm of a cottage garden. Lots of different heights, textures, colours and forms. And just like how inside I’m aiming for an “unfitted look” for the kitchen, I’m doing similar outside.

Our little garden helper giving the plants a big soaking. He also loves soaking everything within a 3m radius! (eye roll)

Below I’m sharing some gardens that have inspired me. Some I’ve seen in person and photographed, like this spectacular one below, and others from my Pinterest folders.

Photography Cottonwood and Co – Landscape design by Col Blanche

I particularly love the mix of formal and informal elements in this garden I photographed last year for landscape designer Col Blanche. The structure of the hedges and tightly clipped buxus cones and spheres, together with rambling cottage plants in between is so lovely. Roses, nepeta, hollyhocks, peonies, alliums, delphiniums and queen anne’s lace. It’s a similar look we’re going for as we planted a lot of our big potted buxus balls in the ground here at the cottage.

Photography Cottonwood and Co – Landscape design by Col Blanche
Photography Cottonwood and Co – Landscape design by Col Blanche
Photography Cottonwood and Co – Landscape design by Col Blanche

Another garden that I absolutely ADORE and has inspired me is Karen’s from Sanctuary Home Decor. Her home is simply breathtaking!

The beautiful garden of Karen from Sanctuary Home Decor

Even though we’ll be selling this little cottage soon, we always renovate our homes as if we are staying long term. We never initially intended to live here, but as Covid-19 was making its way to our shores, we decided to move in to the cottage for a short time.

As a result, we’ve ended up doing more, and making it more beautiful than we anticipated (read: spent more money!). Ultimately though, we know it’s not our long term property because it’s so small (only 2 bedrooms) but I wish we could keep it.

Above is where we planted Spanish Lavender, Roses, a white Azaela, and a Buddleja DavidII (which hopefully will bush up and spread out).

Here we planted Federation Daisies, Hebe and Salvia. And below an Angel Face Rose, white Chrysanthemums, pink Hebe, Perennial Wallflower and a pink and white Alstroemeria.

In front of the garage we planted some star jasmine (which we’d kept in pots from our last home) and French Lavender for a border.

Hopefully in a few months time, with some good weather, the garden will start to fill in and bush up. I’m particularly excited to see the roses come out. I really miss having roses to pick from the garden. I’ll share another update once things grow and fill in a bit more.

If you’ve got any cottage garden planting advice or favourite plants you have in your garden, I’m all ears! I’m always curious what plants people favour. I personally am DESPERATE to plant peonies. I tried at our first property but they never came up.

Nicki xo

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  1. Kerry Reidy says:

    Hi Nikki

    Have you considered adding hellebores? “The winter rose”They self seed and can really fill out a garden bed. Your blog is wonderful and very inspiring too. Kindest regards, Kerry

    1. Hi Kerry, I actually hadn’t considered them, probably because we’ll be selling this tiny cottage and likely not here next winter, but we had hellebores in our first house and they were so pretty! They are such a bright light in the garden during those bleak and sparse winter months. I’ll remember that for our next house for sure! Thank you. xo

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