I love cottage gardens, they are my passion and building one has been my dream come true. But my cottage garden is not authentic!
I don’t live in a cottage in a rural village with acres at my feet. I live in a semi detached urban village. That, however, wasn’t going to stop me having my dream of a cottage garden – after all, it’s about the garden, not the cottage!
The modern day cottage gardens in urban estates and villages shouldn’t be looked down at, however, just because they’re not a regular feature on Gardener’s World doesn’t give them any less stature in the grand scheme of things. Urban cottage gardens come with so many benefits and can be just as impressive as the traditional cottage gardens like Sissinghurst and East Lambrook Manor.
And here’s why!……
Have you ever walked down a street or road that’s just buildings and paving and gravel…… it’s not pleasing to any of the human senses at all, in fact, it adds to our stresses, there’s no calming greenery or wildlife, there are just mortar and toxic air build-up! The RHS introduced their Greening Grey Britain campaign inviting people to make a pledge to add some beneficial greenery to their drab grey spaces and it’s been a huge success so far.
I often hear people say that their ideal garden is a “low maintenance” garden or a “minimalist” garden, which is totally fine everyone is entitled to have and like whatever garden they please. My concern, however, is that the basic skills of gardening get lost in these types of gardens. For example, hedgerow foraging is a unique skill not many possess these days because it’s not something that is required of us any longer to survive, therefore not many do it now? Which is incredibly sad really, as much as nature will do her best to ensure the circle of life continues, we also need to do our part to make sure this happens and for me, cottage gardening is the ticket to helping preserve so many different plant species common and rare alike. It helps us protect our history of traditional English gardens just on a smaller scale. This brings me to my next point, how is the next generation of gardeners going to be inspired to garden if all they see is gravel and Cordylines? I remember as a little girl picking rose petals to make perfume indulging in the phenomenal scent. Watching Bees wallowing in the Centaurea montana in my Nana’s garden. Sitting on the village stone steps next to a huge Fuchsia bush thinking how the flowers looked like little ballerinas. If children aren’t exposed to these things any longer how are they to be inspired to play with them and grow a love and passion us gardeners possess?
Another reason is wildlife. These guys need a home and food too and if we humans just keep paving over everything these guys are really going to suffer! Humans are great at ignoring things until it’s too late, thinking someone else will sort the issue out!!
But why cottage gardens, because they are divine! Their alluring chaotic charm that breaks the rules. Plants aren’t planted up in uniform, they are at sixes and sevens spilling about in any crook and cranny possible. Each is different, yet similar with their unpredictable structure and I totally adore them. And the urban cottage garden is all of that and more. Because usually, they are a garden of small scale, every inch has something special, you don’t have to walk miles to get to the next room, they’re cosy and wrap around you like a snuggle blanket that smells like freshly laundered linen. They are the little colour box treasures, where you will find all the neighborhood wildlife hanging out, from dragonflies to hedgehogs And they are always the house that often has passers-by slowing down just to have a brief capture of its beauty and that’s why urban cottage gardens are bewildering and more should be growing them.
Thanks for stopping by, stay tuned as next time I share my visit to one of the BEST urban cottage gardens around!