Classic Perennials for a Cottage Garden: My Favorite Low Maintenance Plants

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Today I’m sharing some classic perennials for a cottage garden, as well as a tour or our own garden and some ideas I have for next year!

Today I’m sharing some classic perennials for a cottage garden, as well as a tour of our own garden and some ideas I have for next year!

Cottage style flower beds
The perennials we chose for our cottage inspired garden
A tour of our DIY raised flower beds

If you’re looking for some classic perennials for cottage garden plants, the options really are endless. Peonies, hydrangeas, zinnias, dianthus, sweet william, black-eyed susans, iris and so many more! Cottage gardening is so relaxed and easy, that’s really why I love perennials as cottage garden flowers so much! They start to bloom in late spring, early summer and, unlike annuals, they come back year after year. I love the beautiful variety of flowers against the backdrop of my white picket fence.

Whenever I share snippets of our back gardens on my Instagram page or YouTube channel, I get asked to share the exact perennials I chose for our raised beds. I shared a little bit about them in our shed reveal, and I explained how we made them in this post. But today I want to go through each flower if you’re interested in planting a cottage garden, too!

Of course you want well-drained soil, and the right compost and mulch – but there really aren’t many rules when it comes to cottage inspired gardens. I do try to keep three things in mind when I’m choosing plants. 

YouTube video

3 Things to Keep in Mind for a Cottage Garden

Cottage garden inspiration
Perennials for a Cottage Garden

Blooming Times

You want to choose flower bulbs to plant that will bloom at different times so that you can enjoy your garden all season long. For example, my phlox blooms at the end of May here in Michigan, then my catmint blooms a bit later in June, and my daisies bloom early July. 

Cottage Garden Inspiration

Height

You don’t want to choose flowers that will all grow to be the same height. Choose a variety of different heights and plant the tall stems in the middle and the shorter ones near the edge of your garden. The variations in height clusters will giver your garden a whimsical feel. 

Tips for raised flower beds

Colors

Decide on a color pallet so that your garden feels cohesive. Since I have a gray home and shed, I decided to go with hues that would compliment the house. Our gardens have purples, pinks, blues and white flowers. 

Tips for a cottage style garden
Tips for a whimsical garden
Tips for planting a cottage garden

Classic Perennials for a Cottage Garden

Here are the flowers I chose to put in our back gardens this year!

Catmint – I have had catmint for years and I absolutely love it. It is so low maintenance and I have divided mine with a shovel so many times, it seems to do well wherever I plant it! I love the periwinkle flowers it produces, but sometimes it grows to be so large that it can choke out the plants around it. 

Catmint is perfect in a cottage garden!

Foxglove – The first time I shared that I had foxglove in my garden, I got so many messages from people warning that it was poisonous. I had no idea! It is absolutely gorgeous, but I most definitely make sure that the kids keep away from it. 

Foxglove is cottage garden classic!

Garden Phlox – Our phlox blooms in the early spring here in Michigan, so its flowers have already faded for the year. I have a taller variety in my back gardens, and it is already spreading nicely. The flowers are the prettiest shade of blue in May and they are perfect near an outside border by a pathway. 

Hardy Geraniums – These flowers are another great option for along a border! My neighbor gave me a light pink variety and we love it. 

Delphiniums – We purchased shades of both purple and blue delphiniums. They grow in spikes and spires and are very popular in cottage gardening. Our blue delphiniums are still blooming, but the purple variety has faded at this point. 

Delphiniums add whimsy to a cottage garden!

Lavender – Ohh Lavender! It’s a classic perennial for a cottage garden, for sure. It smells amazing and attracts all the pollinators – hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies!

Lavender is such a pretty, low maintenance perennial

Salvia – Also a part of the mint family, salvia is one of my favorites. We have beautiful pink and purple varieties in our gardens, but both are fading right now!

Shasta Daisy – Both my neighbor and mother in law gave me daisies this year, and I love them in our cottage gardens so much! They’re such a happy flower, aren’t they? I love the way the white looks sprinkled amongst the purples, blues and pinks. 

Daisies are a beautiful addition to our raised flower beds!

Hosta –  I did put a few hostas in our gardens, but just for filler until I can plant something different. They are a great filler foliage as they grow large and thrive in full sun or partial shade, plus they are drought-tolerant! 

What we planted in our raised flower beds

Yarrow – This was a recent purchase, it was actually on sale and I wish I had grabbed more! We went with a pink variety and I love it so much!

Pink yarrow is lovely addition to our cottage garden

Sedum – I have one sedum plant and it actually blooms in the fall, which will be nice once most of the other flowers have faded. 

Veronica “Hocus Pocus” – I love this beautiful purple perennial! This is one that I picked up on clearance a week or so ago at Lowe’s and it has already grown so tall. I grabbed a pink variety, as well!

Lovely Veronica adds whimsy to our raised flower beds

Veronica “Tickled Pink” 

Tickled Pink Veronica works well in our raised flower beds

Spotted Dead Nettle – this is another one that my neighbor gave me. It spreads quickly and makes for beautiful ground cover! You can see a bit of it in the photo above.

Pink Primrose – I picked two of these up recently as well. I love the soft pink flowers against all the purples and blues!

Well there you have it, some classic perennials for a cottage garden. Like I said, there are so many more you could add to this list. These are just the ones we chose for this year!

A Cottage Inspired Garden Tour
Flowers for cottage gardening
Cottage flower bed inspiration

Of course my gardens are ever evolving. I would love to one day have a garden full of herbs like thyme or allium chives, as well as biennial vegetables to cook with. I’d also love a pretty arbor, and would eventually love to add roses somewhere in our garden, maybe even some that creep up onto the shed? We’ll see! What would you add to my flower garden? Let me know in the comments below! 

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Today I’m sharing some classic perennials for a cottage garden, as well as a tour or our own garden and some ideas I have for next year!

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18 Comments

  1. All your flowers look amazing! I love how you choose the blues and purples etc. to match well with your home. Your raised beds are awsome!

  2. Andrea, I LOVED your English garden. I can see you sitting in the shade sipping tea overlooking your beautiful flowers. How long did it take for you to Plant your garden. Did you do it all at once or add plants periodically. Thank you for sharing. Every time I watch your videos I smile because your so sweet and pretty.

    1. Oh my goodness, you are so so sweet! It didn’t take too long, but I absolutely love it too. I can’t wait to get back to it!

    1. I am sorry, I do not! This was a variety my mother in law gave me. It does spread fast though! Thank you for your kind words!

  3. Your gardens are lovely!
    Did you make the wooden framed boxes?
    Did you treat them with anything to keep them from rotting?
    Thanks

  4. Do you live in Grand Rapids, Mich.? I live in G.R. and on Prospect Street. There is a Pine Street by me also. Just curious ….

    1. I don’t believe so, this area is exposed to plenty of sunlight and thrives in it. I know there are flowers though that do well in shade too though, I hope you are able to find a beautiful assortment!

  5. What type of stone edges your garden bed I would like to do something similar but I need to tell the stone yard what I need.

  6. I recently found this post, your garden looks beautiful! You inspired me to do something similar in my cottage garden and I can’t wait to see how it will turn out this summer. I live in Sweden but the weather/climate shouldn’t differ too much from Michigan 🙂

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