Plant Like Gertrude in an English Cottage Garden Style

Having recently said goodbye to roliing hills of Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales, moving to Philadelphia leaving behind a 55 acre woodland and English cottage garden style garden that Gertrude would likely have approved of. Leaving behind wild flower meadows and winding lanes in-exchange for the City metropolis of Philly. Famous for her Garden designs here in the USA, sadly she never got to visit them herself.

A friend of mine has also recently given up her cherished garden for a balcony with potential. I got to thinking that we often find ourselves in a situation where, making best use of small spaces is critical and yet with some advanced planning and forward thinking, we can plant like Gertrude Jeykll in the style of an English Cottage Garden.

The relationship between gardening in confinded spaces and Gertrude’s rather grand scale designs that she insisted that plants should grow side-by-side. Extending the season by allowing mid season plants to fill the border space of an earlier Spring flowering perennial.


In practise this principal works well as often early flowering perennials cut back after flowering will a) Leave space for it’s companion to fill and b) Encourages the Spring perennial to flower a second time or at least provide a lush mound of foliage as a backdrop to Summer flowers.


A charming rendition of Gertrude’s tightly planted mixed perennial border. R. ‘Gertrude Jeykll’ featured with Geranium ‘Patrica’ Erysium ‘Bowles Mauve’ Dierama ‘Blackbird’ and Stipa gigantea.

Gertrude Jeykell the country Lady of the English Cottage Garden was responsible for designing and living alongside her gardens that appeared so natural, as if they had been sown by Gertrudes own fair hand.

This naturally densley planted floral explosion of colour, texture, shape and scent is a romantic view of a garden for gardeners, it’s only downfall is the maintenance!

So where space is limited this style of planting is ideal as the plants battle and scramble for space they also grow through each other as they lend support, contrast and blend.

Of-course Gertrude was fortunate enough to be able to spend her days in her garden the nights with her notes, this devotion and dedication to a English Cottage garden is rarely seen these days, found in botancial or public gardens usually where several full-time gardeners are employed.

The following photographs are a newly planted cottage garden scheme that performed incredibly well in it’s first season.

However we can still plant like Gertrude in a style reminscent of an English Cottage garden style but on a smaller scale, even in large outdoor containers or troughs where space is restricted >> Learn how to plant a in a cottage garden style <<

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Stephen Pryce-Lea

Head Gardener and International Horticultural Consulatant




“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, when you find it in a Garden it’s like finding Paradise“

iGrowHort – A Head Gardener’s Horticultural Journey of love, life and learning.

About Head Gardener 331 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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