The term English flower garden tends to conjure up for most of us a free flowing, random abandonment of plants. Although there are many much more formal English garden styles, I think I will concentrate on the more free spirited style of English cottage garden flowers.
The English flower garden is an informal combination of many plant types. Annuals, perennials , herbs, vegetables, shrubs and vines all co-mingle together in a casual manner. Cottage gardens also make use of features such as gates, fences, arbors, birdbaths, benches or trellises. Placed together you get a whimsical feel in this type of garden.
When planting an English garden use what we generally term as “old fashioned” plants. Some examples are tea roses, foxgloves, delphiniums, asters, daisies, hollyhocks,veronicas or phlox. Pick a mixture of different colours and heights.
Incorporate annuals along with your perennials, such as violas, snapdragons, sunflowers, stocks and so on. Many of these English country garden flowers are self seeders which is helpful in maintaining this style of garden. Allow these plants to form seed in the fall and distribute the seeds around your garden. Next year you will be rewarded with a new crop of seedlings growing throughout the beds randomly, as though nature herself did the sowing.
To keep your English garden looking good, some maintenance is required. Although the final appearance is one of carefree colour and shape there is more to it than that. Often things that appear to be the simplest are in fact harder to create. This type of garden mimics the natural growth of nature which takes some finesse to achieve. Weeding is still essential, dead heading spent blooms in the summer will lengthen the blooming period of each plant cultivar and also keep the garden looking tidier and more attractive.
In spring you might have to thin out some of the seedlings to give ample room for others to excel. You will also have to apply a fertilizer now as with such a dense planting the nutrients in your soil will be spent.
The flowers in an English country garden can be as diverse as you want. If you like bold colours choose plants of red, yellow and orange. If you prefer a more subtle look choose plants of pinks, blues and lavenders. White of course adds a nice balance in any colour scheme. You might even choose a one tone garden. Pick only flowers of a single color, that mixed with the greens of different foliage can be very effective. Most of all have fun with it, go a little crazy in your garden.