An excerpt from my gardening column, The Gardener's Corner.
Cottage gardens are a distinct style of informal design using traditional resources, dense plantings and a mix of ornamental and edible plants. With an English origin, the cottage garden has the image of grace and charm, almost rustic, rather than a formal structure.
Web sourceEarly gardens were more practical than the ones of today with an emphasis on growing vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and including a beehive and livestock like ducks, chickens and pigs. Every plant had to earn its keep as they not only had to have pleasing appeal, but were expected to produce something to eat. Initially ornamental flowers were used to fill in spaces or some for companion planting to combat insects. Eventually though, they evolved to become the dominant plants in the cottage garden. Many of the varieties were gathered as seeds and cuttings on the way home after working in the fields although the traditional hollyhocks, delphiniums, pansies and old fashioned roses remained fundamental.
In the early 1970s with an interest in natural and organic gardening, ornamental grasses, native plants, self sowing annuals and spreading perennials gained popularity as the cottage garden no longer had to be an area to provide self sufficiency.
Nigella can be started indoors or directly planted in the soil in spring. They like a sunny location although I have had luck growing them in part shade. Other folk names you may know this plant as are love-in-a mist or devil-in-a-bush. The foliage is feathery with dainty flowers of blue, rose, mauve or white and they reach 45 cm in height. ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is the darkest blue to combine with pink roses or to have peeking out between other perennials.
All photos are my own unless otherwise noted.