Cottage Garden Charm

Old-fashioned flowers, a custom white picket fence, and colorful containers make this charming cottage garden a spot you never want to leave!

Organized cottage garden style

A little more than 10 years ago this charming cottage-inspired garden in Maine was a blank slate. Erin and Dan Clark had just added the 29×35-foot paver patio to their existing deck, but then Erin started dreaming of a garden. What inspired her? “I knew I wanted cottage flowers, but I’m also kind of a neat freak,” she says. “And my mum, Linda, has always had really sweet gardens and great style.”

Even though she had a sense of what she wanted, she mulled it over for years before landing on the horseshoe-shaped border anchored by a picket fence and arbor you see below.

Secret to a quick start

In late summer 2019 the couple built the fence and arbor and installed the plantings. It’s hard to believe that the perennials in these photos are only a couple of years old. The fast growth is a testament to how important starting with great soil can be.

Before they planted anything, Dan tilled up the planting area and spread 4 or 5 inches of biosolid compost purchased from a nearby municipality. Erin dug the compost in as she planted the catmint (Nepeta racemosa) and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), divided and moved from the front yard, and the other small end-of-season perennials picked up at a local garden center.

The quick start has been this garden’s biggest surprise. Erin kept the plants’ mature sizes in mind when she planted and spread them out rather than giving in to the temptation to pack them in: “It hurt me. I had to keep telling myself, it’s going to look fine.” Now she’s glad she did.

Flower progression

In this zone 4 garden, you can’t count on frost-free nights until the end of May and can expect a frost by the end of September. Erin packs a lot into her short summers!

The flowers start in May with bulbs, such as tulips and alliums. Then the garden transitions into the blue, pink and chartreuse June palette you see above. By July, pinks take over, with coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), and pink-flowering annuals like zinnias (Zinnia elegans) and cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), which Erin starts from seed in her portable greenhouse. Late summer brings Japanese anemones (Anemone x hybrida) and the annuals in all their glory.

Sweet pea cottage

Once the planting was done, Dan and Erin turned their attention to building Sweet Pea Cottage at the back of the yard as a studio space for Erin’s painting and other creative endeavors. Next up on their project list? A path to the cottage and, of course, a flower bed. They started it late last year, and you can follow the progress as well as see the garden throughout the year on Erin’s blog, or on Instagram @Clark.Cottage.Gardens.

Erin’s cottage garden plant palette

Here are a few of the plants that bloom in June in this Maine garden.

A) ‘John Davis’ Climbing rose Rosa

Shrub; climber with lightly fragrant double pink flowers from late spring through fall; full sun; 6 to 8 ft. tall, spreading; cold hardy in USDA zones 2 to 9

B) ‘Thai Pink Jade’ Garden phlox Phlox paniculata

Perennial; soft pink flowers on mildew-resistant foliage in summer; full sun; 30 to 48 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8

C) ‘Walker’s Low’ Catmint Nepeta racemosa  

Perennial; lavender-blue flowers rebloom from late spring through fall; full sun; 18 to 36 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

D) ‘Silver Mound’ Artemisia Artemisia schmidtiana  

Perennial; soft, silvery mounds of foliage; full sun; 8 to 10 in. tall, 10 to 15 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7

E) ‘Vision Light Pink’ Bloody cranesbill Geranium sanguineum

Perennial; pale pink flowers start in midspring and repeat through fall, red autumn foliage; full sun to part shade; 9 to 12 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

F) ‘Thriller’ Lady’s mantle Alchemilla mollis  

Perennial; clouds of tiny chartreuse flowers top plants in late spring and early summer; full sun to part shade; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8

Vintage style

As you wander this garden, you’ll find vintage chairs, old watering cans and copper tubs tucked in here and there, some turned into containers, and even an old rusty bicycle with flowers planted in the basket and the cargo box.


Source: Cottage Garden Charm | Garden Gate (

Author: Dennis Hickey

There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. Learning will nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this website and visit often so you too keep learning and growing.

%d bloggers like this: