Turn on the cottage charm

One of the most obvious elements of the classic cottage style is a plethora of beautiful plants packed together, and that’s something you can’t miss about this showy summer border. The challenge, though, is avoiding a mish-mashed look. The reason it looks so cohesive is that several plants are repeated throughout. In addition, the color palette is limited. You won’t see any orange or red here.

There’s more to this beautiful garden than meets the eye. Take a look at the tips on the next slide and you’ll see what helps it look gorgeous year after year. 

Plant detailing

Deadheading is a big job in this border. Perennials, such as yarrow (Achillea millefolium), coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) and garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), are long-blooming, but all good things eventually come to an end. Take the time to get rid of spent flowers and in a couple of weeks many of the plants will provide a second, usually lighter, rebloom.

Be sure to include a few annuals for their long season of bloom and to save some work. The ribbon of wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens) and petunias (Petunia spp. and hybrids) edging the border won’t need deadheading because the faded blooms fall away on their own or are buried beneath new growth.

Creative staking

Back-of-the-border plants can be a challenge to keep upright. Here, the simple fence border panel in the photo below helps. Placed at the base of a plant, such as garden phlox, the 13-in.-tall panel keeps it standing in a natural-looking way, instead of rigidly straight. You can even stack one on top of another to get extra height. For foxglove and other plants with tall flowering stems, a single loop stake does the trick.

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Keep the edge

Like a plain wooden frame around a beautiful landscape painting, the neatly cut trench edge of this border allows the energy and color of this planting to be the focus of attention. Interlocking plastic edging helps keep maintenance down. You can’t see it unless you look for it.

Pretty, but…

The spike-shaped flowers of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) add drama to the garden. But it’s listed as a noxious weed in many states. Replace it with spike blazing star (Liatris spicata) or foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

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