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A Cottage Garden That’s Not Chaotic

An exuberant design filled with frothy perennials needs just the right amount of organization

Fine Gardening – Issue 180

Typical cottage gardens—the ones we see in English gardening books and magazines—are undeniably beautiful. But often, when gardeners in the States attempt to replicate their charming and iconic look, the result can be unstructured and chaotic. We set out to create a garden in North Truro, Massachusetts, that was inspired by the romantic look and feel of those English gardens, but we didn’t want it to look messy and unruly. However, because we live on a bluff on Cape Cod, we felt that a formal garden design would look out of place on the windswept site that is surrounded by native grasses, shrubs, and wild roses. So instead, we opted for a casual cottage style that uses color and repetition to prevent visual chaos.

Before a single perennial could be planted, we had to plan for the challenges of the site itself: punishing winds; cool, damp springs;…

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