Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

English Cottage Gardening: 8 Lessons Learned in Rural Suffolk

Search

English Cottage Gardening: 8 Lessons Learned in Rural Suffolk

July 5, 2017

When London-based boutique owner Trevor Pickett bought a Victorian red-brick cottage close to the east coast in rural Suffolk 25 years ago, the plot already had plenty of potential—the half-acre garden (and two acre fields beyond) had formerly been the gardener’s cottage of the grand Georgian house next door.

But in keeping with the pretty and traditional style of the house, Pickett upped the ante, cleverly designing the garden into zones with a parterre, a rose-covered pergola, espalier fruit trees and climbers at every turn.

Here are eight lessons he learned along the way about English cottage gardening:

Photography by Clare Coulson for Gardenista.

 The south-facing side of the cottage, which looks onto the garden, is generously swathed with climbing roses, honeysuckle, wisteria, and perennial sweet peas which elegantly arch over the most used door into the garden.
Above: The south-facing side of the cottage, which looks onto the garden, is generously swathed with climbing roses, honeysuckle, wisteria, and perennial sweet peas which elegantly arch over the most used door into the garden.

Vintage Pots and Containers

 Along the front of the house the tone is immediately set for the wild feeling of the garden beyond with brick edged beds spilling over with roses, alchemilla mollis, and in midsummer lots of pastel-toned hollyhocks. The brick paths and these beds were one of the few features that were already in place when Trevor bought the cottage.
Above: Along the front of the house the tone is immediately set for the wild feeling of the garden beyond with brick edged beds spilling over with roses, alchemilla mollis, and in midsummer lots of pastel-toned hollyhocks. The brick paths and these beds were one of the few features that were already in place when Trevor bought the cottage.

Invest in vintage galvanized dolly tubs; here they anchor the path and are filled with young evergreens that can eventually be topiarized.

Create Vignettes

 In a very small shady corner that leads to a utilitarian gate, bare brick walls are a backdrop for a homespun grotto complete with a giant shell pool, fish fountain, and stone boulders. Each piece was sourced separately from a local antiques dealer, Dix Sept Antiques (@dixseptantiques) and built on site.
Above: In a very small shady corner that leads to a utilitarian gate, bare brick walls are a backdrop for a homespun grotto complete with a giant shell pool, fish fountain, and stone boulders. Each piece was sourced separately from a local antiques dealer, Dix Sept Antiques (@dixseptantiques) and built on site.

Shrubs in Succession

The beds and borders are packed with a succession of flowering shrubs and roses, creating a long season of interest. Just as many of the roses are ending their first flush the soft pink Rosa multiflora, pictured, springs into flower.
Above: The beds and borders are packed with a succession of flowering shrubs and roses, creating a long season of interest. Just as many of the roses are ending their first flush the soft pink Rosa multiflora, pictured, springs into flower.

Dining Room, Defined

A dining area in the middle of the garden is surrounded by a clipped yew hedge that instantly creates an intimate protected spot. The hedge grows deliberately close to the table and chairs creating a feeling of enclosure.
Above: A dining area in the middle of the garden is surrounded by a clipped yew hedge that instantly creates an intimate protected spot. The hedge grows deliberately close to the table and chairs creating a feeling of enclosure.

Statuary in Focus

Hunt out old statuary and urns and place them for greatest effect.
Above: Hunt out old statuary and urns and place them for greatest effect.

Focal points are created with antique statuary and urns that pull the eye along the long paths and create views throughout the garden. A simple brick plinth brings this urn up to eye level.

Espalier for Privacy

Create dividers with espaliered fruit trees.
Above: Create dividers with espaliered fruit trees.

Rather than zoning with solid features or fences, Trevor has used more airy, transparent dividers; here, a pear espalier is used to demarcate a long grass path from the rest of the garden.

Dovecote Drama

 A wooden dovecote, with its base shrouded in evergreen bamboo, brings some vertical interest and adds to the bucolic atmosphere.
Above: A wooden dovecote, with its base shrouded in evergreen bamboo, brings some vertical interest and adds to the bucolic atmosphere.

A Dramatic Entrance

Make simple wooden pergolas for a sense of theater.
Above: Make simple wooden pergolas for a sense of theater.

Social Climbers

Use rustic obelisks to encourage a mix of climbers to intermingle.
Above: Use rustic obelisks to encourage a mix of climbers to intermingle.

N.B.: If you like cottage gardens as much as we do, our favorites will inspire you:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0