Ideas for How to Create a Farmhouse Cottage Garden

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Do you need some ideas for how to create a farmhouse cottage garden?

After reading the book “Anne of Green Gables’ and then watching the movie I’m more in love than ever with the traditional cottage garden.

Welcome to the April Edition of the Virtual Book Club.

I along with three other bloggers will be sharing our interpretation of a different book each book on the fourth week of each month.

On Thursday we will be sharing something home decor related and on the following Saturday a culinary treat inspired by our book

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white picket fence in a farmhouse cottage garden with chamomile plants in front

Anne of Green Gables

Our book this month is “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was written in 1908 and set in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decided to bring an orphan boy into their home to help with farm work. Instead, the orphanage sends Anne. Anne who is a very precocious child but smart and hardworking quickly steals a piece of their hearts. They decide to keep her and eventually adopt her.

It’s a classic children’s book that is enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s been made into several movies and even a series.

Anne loved nature and was inspired by it so I leaned into that love as I too love to be outside in the gardens and one with nature.

Anne Loved Flowers

Not only does Anne have a great way with words, but she also has a way with flowers. 

She wore them in her hair, pressed them in books, and decorated cakes with edible plants.

Cottage Garden Flowers

While Anne lived in a farmhouse there was also the cottage feel with the white picket fences and the garden beds. If you are interested in starting your own cottage garden here are some of the perennial plants you might want to try.

Some of my favorite cottage plants and also some of the beautiful blooms that would have been in the fictional town of Avonlea are listed below:

  • Sweet Peas – Lathyrus odoratus
  • Sweet William or Dianthus barbatus – Caryophyllaceae
  • Hollyhocks – Alcea Rosea
  • Foxglove – Digitalis Purpurea
  • Poppy – Papaver Orientale
  • Clematis Vine or Leather Flower – Ranunculaceae
  • Sweet Rocket – Hesperis matronalis
  • Tiger Lilies – Lilium lancifoliumShrub Roses – Rosaceae
  • Phlox Paniculata – Polemoniaceae
  • Peony – Paeonia officinalis
  • Delphinium (Larkspur) – Ranunculaceae
  • Hydrangea – Hydrangeaceae
  • Day Lily – Hemerocallis
  • Hostas – Asparagaceae
  • Cleome – Cleomaceae
  • Shasta Daisy – Leucanthemum x superbum
  • Bee Balm (Monarda) –  Lamiaceae
  • Blue False Indigo –  Baptisia australis
  • Irises – Iris

In my somewhat cottage-style garden, I grow most of these plants. They however seem to be the ones that our little family of deer love so it’s a constant battle to keep them from eating the new flower buds. 

In my cut garden which is fenced, I have better luck and like Anne, I cut flowers and bring them inside to make my home beautiful and romantical.

Cottage Garden Ideas

The beauty of a cottage garden is that many of the flowers are self-seeding plants which over time gives it that natural informal design. Many can also benefit from division which will give you more plants for FREE.

Straight lines are not a thing with  Farmhouse Cottage Gardens. 

The first year that you plant a cottage garden it won’t have that full complete look. By the second year, it will start to take shape and look fuller. 

If you like some structure to your garden you can plant the taller plants in the back and then medium and short plants in the front. A more layered look. 

One of my favorite gardening books is “The Layered Garden” by David L. Culp

 “Oh, look, here’s a big bee just tumbled out of an apple blossom. Just think what a lovely place to live–in an apple blossom! Fancy going to sleep in it when the wind was rocking it. If I wasn’t a human girl, I think I’d like to be a bee and live among the flowers.”

Cottage Planting Garden Tips

I’m a hobby garden, not a master garden so these are just my personal tips and tricks for gardening

  • Plant in threes (3) – Three of the same plant in three different areas in my garden
  • Use three main colors (pink, white, and yellow) and have pops of blue
  • Stagger the height of plants and their blooming time
  • Make sure that a full sun plant gets at least 6 hours of sun a day
  • In shade areas plant shade loving plants
  • Use annual flowers to fill in your gardens for all-season color

You also want your perennial flowers to be blooming at different times so that you have defined all-around color throughout your garden. 

It’s definitely an art and you need to research what you are planting and where. 

While people think that a cottage garden isn’t much work, I personally find that not to be the case. Some types of flowers can take over depending on your soil conditions. 

Therefore you need to maintain those plants by thinning or dividing them. 

I also find that weeding is an ongoing project even with a good layer of mulch

Cottage Garden Plants

You can purchase by clicking on the photo

Adding Character to Your Garden

A traditional English cottage garden would also incorporate a brick path and or use natural stone as a garden path, ledge, or natural fencing. These traditional materials add to the whimsy of a cottage garden.

In a typical cottage garden style, a home would also have window boxes cascading with beautiful flowers.

The Farmhouse’s Garden’s

Because Anne’s home was a true farmhouse, in addition to the flower garden there was also a vegetable garden or kitchen garden, an herb garden, and an orchard with fruit trees. 

During the late 1800s when Anne of Green Gables takes place, a farmhouse garden was a necessity.

With potential months between visits to a town, the garden would have supplied a family with a food source. In the herb garden would have been medicinal plants that they could use for first aid and help with sicknesses.

Prince Edward Island

The fictional town of Avonlea was created by author Lucy Maud Montgomery as the home of Anne Shirley Cuthbert and it was located on Prince Edward Island.

Prince Edward Island is a real place located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, west of Cape Breton Island, north of the Nova Scotia peninsula, and east of New Brunswick.

The island has between 5 and  6 hardiness zone so they have very similar growing conditions to me in Illinois at 5b.

Most of the flowers would have been brought from England and what we now consider cottage garden plants.


If you decide to start a perennial garden in your yard, it’s a good idea to decide ahead of time how much maintenance you are willing to give to this hobby.

Keep your gardens small if you don’t have a lot of time to spare tending to your gardens.

I personally think that spending time in the garden is very therapeutic so for me, a large garden is still fun but I can see a time when it will be too much to manage.

Peace & Love,

Thanks for Following Along

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    1. Thank you Michele – I wish I could garden everyday but then again, I wouldn’t be able to grow some of the things that I do 🙂

  1. This post makes me want to get outside and get my hands dirty! Too bad it’s raining today! I’m so excited for the coming gardening season! Thanks for the inspiration, Lynne! Pinned 🙂

    1. I’m with you! I can’t wait to get out in the dirt.

  2. Love your post so much Lynn. You have given me so much inspiration as I was to redesign my garden around my greenhouse. I am thrilled that you picked colors I love (pink, white, yellow, blue) and so many of the flowers I already have but a few I can still add! It is going to make the redesign so much easier. Your photos are divine!!! Pinned.

  3. Your gardens are amazing, Lynn! They have the beautiful charm of an 1800s farmhouse garden, like Anne would have had. Thanks for the list of suggested plants. I’ve been trying to create a cottage garden and it’s needs some additions.

    1. I took a bit of a leap comparing my gardens to hers but like “Anne of Green Gables” a work of fiction 🙂

  4. I love y’all’s book review posts, especially on books that I really like! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Susan –

      This book was especially fun to recreate. There was such great content in this title.

  5. Lynn, this is a beautifully written article perfectly decorated with your photos. I completely agree with the tip of designing your cottage garden to stagger the plant heights per their blooming time. It makes a huge visual difference. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you so much Maria – My gardens change every year and they are always evolving. I think that’s the beauty of them.

  6. Hi Lynn- I loved this post. I just ordered some seeds for my cottage garden. Our last frost date is just after Mothers Day. Thanks for recommending specific plants and for giving tips on how to add character to a garden. No doubt your garden will look amazing this summer.

    1. Hi Anna – I can’t plant until May 15th and even then it’s a little tricky. I started my seeds inside this year so I’m excited to see how that turns out. I will report!