11 ideas for simple cottage gardens

Since plant life and natural beauty are abundant in cottage country, you may be thinking “gardening at the cottage—why bother?” But a lot can be gained by even the smallest garden. I will admit I haven’t always been a huge fan of gardening or landscaping—let me correct that, I still don’t enjoy the act of gardening.  But I can appreciate what it does for pulling together an exterior—cottages included!

But who really wants to spend all of their cottage time in the garden? Yes, I know plenty of cottagers enjoy gardening, but just as many don’t see the purpose when they’re so little time to enjoy the weekend. I think the key is the kind of garden you tackle. Garden beds and rock landscapes aren’t required to get what you are looking for (and they certainly do take a chunk of time).

I’m of two minds at the cottage—contain it.

metal
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Smith Designs

 

Or let it run wild.

wild-flowers
Photo courtesy of Rosehill Inn

 

Pulling together a variety of containers of different styles, colours, and sizes can create a wonderful eclectic feeling on any dock or patio. And who doesn’t have a bunch of random containers lying around at the cottage to choose from? 

containers
Photo courtesy of Urban Garden Casual

 

Experiment with the types of containers you use. But be warned—some things can start looking cottage cheesy.

wagon
Photo courtesy of Wing Works Landscape

 

Use small terra cotta pots on a windowsill.

sm-terra
Photo courtesy of TLC

 

Or large terra cotta pots on the bench of deck or dock.

lg-terra
Photo courtesy of Matador Network

 

In fact, I was designing a kitchen at an island cottage years ago, and they had dozens of terracotta pots filled with fresh herbs like basil and oregano. They looked amazing all clustered together, and they smelled fabulous. And they didn’t have to “pop” into town an hour each way when they needed seasoning. Containers create impact, but they help you keep the gardening aspect contained and manageable.

On the other hand, who doesn’t like an English countryside–inspired garden full of wild flowers? Well, my mother-in-law doesn’t, but that’s beside the point.  

cottage-garden
Photo courtesy of This Old House

 

You can let this grow up, even overgrow (is that the right gardening word?) and it still looks great. My only advice: when you have to turn the light on in the middle of the day, it’s probably time to trim the vines around the window.

And for the more committed gardeners who need to garden but still want dock time, there are a number of other ideas.

Install your vegetable garden vertically, up the side of a cabin. How cool is this?

wall-garden
Photo courtesy of Tree Hugger

 

Or go for the most functional form of herb gardening and install it right outside your kitchen window. How nice to prepare a “fresh from the window garden” meal!

window-herb
Photo courtesy of Vegetable Gardener

 

If these aren’t enough, then go bigger, but still contained. These boxed-in gardens are simple to build and fill, and they work on a variety of different landscapes. Just to be clear to the family that may be reading this, I am not willing to do them (it’s still gardening!), but I would harvest the crops if someone else tended to them.

veg-garden
Photo courtesy of Squawkfox

 

All of this talk of gardening is making me crave dock time. So let’s not forget that no matter how much or how little you want to garden at the cottage, the most important part is that you leave a clear path to the dock!

path
Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor