Cottage Garden Bushes: Choosing Shrubs For A Cottage Garden

cottage shrubs
cottage shrubs
(Image credit: pcturner71)

There is something deeply appealing about an English cottage garden. If you are charmed by this bright, carefree look and want to create your own, you’ll need to select some cottage garden shrubs to get started. Which authentic cottage garden bushes will give you the look you want? Read on for the best ideas for cottage garden shrub varieties.

Using Shrubs in a Cottage Garden

While cottage gardens are trendy these days, original “cottagers” were people with very little money trying to make the most of their small yards. For that reason, they planted a happy blend of shrubs for a garden mixing fruit trees, herbs, veggies, and flowers.

Everyone is trying to be more water wise now too. When you are looking for cottage garden bushes, you should also keep that in mind.

Cottage Garden Shrub Varieties

Some of the traditional shrubs in a cottage garden require lots of care and lots of water. Among this group includes roses. Many other cottage shrub varieties, however, are water-sparing plants and very drought tolerant.

One shrub to include is the native ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.), an evergreen that lights up with indigo flowers in spring. Also consider choosing redbud (Cercis spp.), as it is filled with magenta flowers in spring.

For another cottage shrub variety that works well in a modern cottage garden, try chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) with its stand-up spikes of flowers in lilac, white, or pink. They bloom all summer long.

Hydrangeas come in many varieties including a few native species. Their big, loose blossoms are very romantic and make these plants perfect shrubs for a cottage garden. Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) is a lovely addition that brings gorgeous, fragrant blossoms as well as butterflies to your backyard. They are easy to grow and produce many flowers.

You should also include some climbing vines and vining vegetables in your cottage garden idea. Grow lavender wisteria on a gazebo or raise potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) with its lovely flowers on a fence or wall. Morning glories and cottage garden sweet peas are also wonderful climbers.

Finally, for fast, easy-growing shrubs for a cottage garden, don’t overlook salvia. If you want large bushes, try using Salvia clevelandii or Salvia brandegui. For smaller shrubs in your garden design, consider autumn sage (Salvia greggii) in pink, red, or coral.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.