Cottage Garden: The Beauty of Messy Flowers

Is it too soon in the year to talk about gardening? Because I want to share the beauty of messy flowers that are the signature look of a cottage garden.

New England garden cottage with white picket fence and messy flowers


What is it about messy flowers that pulls at my heart string? My mother’s garden was always very tidy with perfect groupings of flowers with plenty of space in between each variety. Instead of mulch, she covered her garden beds with decorative stone.

And get this – I used to have to help pick out all the little leaves and twigs that would get wedged in between those stones! I do believe that’s why I now prefer a haphazard, natural garden over a perfectly coiffed landscape.

Array of Brightly Colored Flowers in a Cottage Garden


Don’t get me wrong. My mother’s yard was beautiful, but it required too much maintenance. She and my dad eventually moved into a townhouse because their yard became too much work. It always had to be perfect. Unlike my yard which is more natural and is always a work in progress. I don’t feel like it’s ever done. You can get away with a disheveled look when you have cottage style gardens.

Pink Flowers Along a White Picket Fence in a Cottage Garden


When you think about, a cottage garden should always be the preferred style of gardening because that’s how God creates gardens. Look at the flowers along the side of a road or across a natural prairie. Nothing is groomed, yet it’s breathtaking. Seeds scatter and spread with the whims of the wind.

Having said that, there is still some planning that goes into a cottage garden. Like color selection and height of plants. An old-fashioned pink hollyhock is the perfect choice for adding height in a cottage garden. So beautiful! I love these blooms.

Common Pink Hollyhocks


Foxgloves are an awesome choice, too!

Small garden brick shed with a planted Sedum roof and a boder pink Foxgloves Digitalis


Other elements of a cottage garden include arbors and trellises for rambling roses or climbing clematis. Structures are yet another way to add height and visual interest in your landscape.

Garden Arbor with Purple Clematis


Charming Pink Front Door with Rose Vine


Climbing flowers look amazing when they spill over onto a porch, especially one with white wicker furniture. I like to let my flowers go a little wild like this.

Cottage Porch with White Wicker Rocking Chair and Picket Fence


When you let your flowers grow a little wild, no one will notice when a few go missing for an indoor bouquet. My grandmother had a large cutting garden in her backyard with every kind of chrysanthemum imaginable. I loved picking those flowers as a kid for her indoor arrangements.

Purple window with small white pitcher of tiny sunflowers


So what do you think? Do you like messy flowers in the garden, or are you more like my mother who preferred a tidier look to her landscape?

Little Red Cottage with Sunny Yellow Garden Flowers


More Cottage Garden Inspiration:

Cottage Garden Tour with Fountain

Elements of a Cottage Garden

Five Inspiring Ways to Create a Cottage Garden

Inspiring Tulip Garden Ideas

Oak Brook Garden Tour



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  1. I am in agreement with you and love the messy look of a cottage garden! Perennials, bi-annuals, and self sowing annuals, I love them all, bring on Spring!!

  2. Jennifer, I’ve been following you for so long and I think your blog is just wonderful. I look forward to reading it everyday. I’ve been inspired by you to delve into many things that are outside my comfort zone and have really surprised myself. I think maybe starting a cottage garden may be my new adventure for this year. Thank you so very much for your inspiration.

    1. Hi Diane!

      You just made my day! I’m glad my blog has inspired you to try different things. I do hope you’ll try a cottage garden. It’s freeing to let things get a little messy outdoors and not stress about perfect placement and every weed. 🙂

  3. I prefer the lack of maintenance of a cottage garden and the blending of colors and textures. I learned my lesson with using decorative stone in a flower bed. All the tiny leaves and sticks and whatever that spoils the look you’re going for. I’m a black mulch person and use it liberally in my flower beds and small garden. By using mulch, dried leaves and dead flower petals only adds a natural beauty.

    1. I completely agree with you, Pat! And I’m glad someone can relate to that struggle with leaves and sticks getting into the decorative stone. My mother was such a fanatic about having everything spotless. I love her despite that flaw. LOL.

  4. Best post yet. I love, love, LOVE flowers and this was perfect. It’s cold and rainy today here in Tennessee so this brightened my day. Thank you!

    Psst, post more flowers. I know you post quite a lot already, but you can never have too many.

  5. Cottage gardens are my choice and the more the merrier. Love this post and i need to buy some seeds.

  6. I totally enjoyed your commentary on a cottage garden as I look out my window to snow and freezing rain here in Southern Ontario, Canada. The thought of spring and getting outside again into my cottage garden makes everything bearable until April at least.

  7. This is what I want my gardens to look like, my only problem is I gotta watch what I plant or the deer eats it to the nub, they are beautiful animals but so destructive…

  8. I love cottage gardens. A great show to watch is Escape to the Country, it’s all about houses but the gardens that go with them are just beautiful. I can only wish for myself as living in a condo I don’t have the luxury of space to do this. Please keep posting gardens of every variety they are so inspirational . I can’t wait to see your garden this year when you do a post, it was so beautiful last year with your pond.

  9. I too have a cottage garden. I love this style so much. I also grow cut flowers in a separate area so I can share them with others. I can always appreciate the beauty of a meticulous garden with exacting edges and weedless beds but they don’t touch my heart the way cottage gardens do. I asked my husband one day if it was possible to actually “be in love” with my flowers because I believe I am in love with them. I share some of the garden on Instagram as TangledGardens if you’re interested. I am so very anxious for spring… seed sowing starts in earnest in two weeks!

  10. The part about God loving a varied garden made me smile. I just finally redid my garden bed. We did a raised cedar bed in front of our front porch and I filled it with wispy flowers of blue, purple, pink, white & orange. I look forward to it filling out and looking whimsical. Having an organic wild floweresque garden in my tiny yard makes me feel peaceful and brings me joy