Cottage Gardening in Queensland
The cottage garden as discussed on this page refers to an intensive garden filled with flowers, herbs, fruit trees. The style will be familiar from Northern Hemisphere gardening books and magazines, not to mention childhood story books.
Sometimes vegetables are included, displayed in rustic yet ornamental ways. However, the contemporary cottage garden is ususally focused on flowers, including modern varieties which nevertheless have the "cottage look".
Cottage gardening can be a struggle for the gardener in subtropical and tropical climates, because many of the classic cottage garden plants come from cooler parts of the world, or from Mediterranean climates. The trick, then, is to select varieties which are tolerant of heat and humidity. Or, substitute unsuitable species altogether with plants which are nevertheless soft and pretty.
There's a separate page on this site for the Queenslander garden, which looks at plants and gardens historically associated with traditional Queensland homes. The Self Sufficiency Pages are being developed for the gardener primarily concerned with growing food and related matters.
1. Eliminate lawn altogether in small gardens. Fill beds to overflowing with flowers and herbs, and separate beds with paths.
2. Even though the plantings may be informal, a formal layout (i.e. symmetrical design, garden beds in squares, diamonds, circles and other geometric shapes) is suited to a cottage garden.
3. Annuals are a great way to fill in gaps between perennials. Collect seed and sprinkle around to encourage more free plants next year.
4. Look out for dwarf fruit trees, which will be easier to incorporate into an intensive garden (some may even work in pots). Don't forget the range of non-tree fruits e.g. strawberries, melons, pepinos
5. Dwarf and compact forms of vegetables will also be easier to incorporate into your cottage garden. Look out for varieties with interesting leaves or fruit.
6. Don't forget to incorporate a garden seat where you can relax with a cup of tea and admire your bountiful garden!
The following are just a few suggestions for cottage gardens. (Qld particularly):
(especially heritage roses)
Violas and pansies
More information coming in future updates.
The following links are for general information, research and ideas. Some species or cultivars referred to may be unavailable in Australia, or unsuitable for Queensland conditions
The Newsletter of the Rose and Perennial Gardens, Huntington Botanical Gardens, California