Friday, 10 July 2009

Cottage gardens (part 1)

I've spent the last few hours browsing pictures of cottage gardens on the net trying to find one that appeals to me most, because I think everyone has an image in their mind of that quintessentially English rural cottage garden. Its been difficult to find one that ticks all my boxes, I can't even use a picture of my own (I'm having issues that I'll save for another day). Cottage gardens can be one of the most difficult gardens to get right. I think it stems from what we imagine them to look like, they have a real nostalgia, a romantic glimpse of an age that's disappeared and trying to recreate one that fits that image in our minds (and hearts) can be difficult to pull together (or maybe that's just me).
So I've decided to not show a picture of a cottage garden.

The original true cottage gardens were more about function than form. They were productive patches growing vegetables, herbs, fruit and livestock. Flowers weren't really high on the agenda. The local gentry had the flowery gardens, seed from these would creep in to the cottagers plots on the wind or by birds. Its the wealthy landowners gardens that our idea of the cottage garden comes from.
There was a brief trend in the 18th century for aristocrats to create cottage ornees (fake cottages) so they could sample the quaint country life of their hard up tenants.

Cottage gardens were revived in the late 19th century by the arts and crafts movement probably as a back lash to the formal styles of the Victorians with their love of huge displays of bright carpet bedding.
One of the most influential designers was the incredible Gertrude Jekyll who teamed up with the architect Edwin Lutyens to create some of the most beautiful planting schemes ever seen.

Other notable (really really good) examples of gardeners and gardens include Vita Sackville-west at Sissinghurst, Beth Chatto and the late great Christopher Lloyds Great Dixter

So, history lesson over.

Oh go on here's a picture

This is the Chelsea Pensioners Garden From RHS Chelsea 2005 (the year I was there)


Sara said...

I want one that looks like that!! Got a little terrier who likes to 'help' me when I garden - I plant, she digs up!!

jess said...

Sounds like you've got yourself an under-gardner too.


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