Magazine article Sunset

Carefree & Colorful

Magazine article Sunset

Carefree & Colorful

Article excerpt

Use our planting and design tips to create a cottage garden with a Western twist

When you hear the term "cottage garden," you might automatically picture a flowerful plot in front of a rustic country cottage in England. But you don't need a rural address to create such a garden. Cottage gardening is an attitude, not a location. All you need is a passion for plants and a willingness to mix them all up.

As Western gardeners are proving, you can achieve a cottage effect in the heart of the city as well as the suburbs. While English-style gardens draw heavily on hardy perennials, you can accomplish the same look of artful chaos with any plants appropriate to your climate. Indeed, Mediterranean plants and succulents like agaves work splendidly in coastal and desert plantings.

The owners of the gardens pictured on these pages will never be convinced that less is more. Perennials, annuals, vegetables, herbs, vines, roses, and other flowering shrubs-they find room for all of them. The result is cheerful, charming exuberance.

Four-season appeal in Portland

How long does it take to create a show-quality cottage garden? About 18 months for the beauty shown above-and most of that was growing time. Soon after garden designer Darcy Daniels (BloomTown Garden Design; www. bloomtowngardendesign.com or 503/331-1783) moved into this Portland property, she ripped out a ragtag lawn, then began planting the rich tapestry pictured here in late spring. "I plant densely in a layered fashion, striving for a generous and abundant look. Over time, I will have to edit some plants out," she says.

A couple of principles guide Daniels's plant choices. Her coordinated use of color-burgundy, chartreuse, pink, purple, and blue-ties the garden together. Creating four-season interest is also critical. "In spring and summer, nearly everything looks good, but I use plants that hold their places in the off-season so I won't be looking at bare ground. …

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