In search of a genuine English cottage garden

My mom, sisters, brother and bros-in-law visited southwestern England earlier this month in search of King Arthur. Actually, only Mom, who turned 79 on Sept. 5, was actively seeking the studly lord of Camelot. What I really wanted was an authentic cottage  garden. I found lots of thatched-roof cottages (adorable!), surprising gardens and gardens in surprising places in the land of Jane Eyre, Daphne du Maurier and Marion Zimmer Bradley. But a true cottage garden crammed with roses and hollyhocks, veggies and moss-covered paver paths? Not a one! Still, I wasn’t disappointed. (OK, a little bit. I guess it’s like coming to Florida and not seeing a dolphin.) Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites. 

The storefront garden

pink, red hollyhocks, purple allium cottage garden in Avebury England

Pink and red hollyhocks, purple allium (want 'em!) and roses were the only plants I recognized in this lovely cottage-style garden in front of The Henge Shop in Avebury.

The original vertical garden?

Vertical gardens, also called living walls, are all the rage. Of course, I want! I have the containers for creating a hanging succulents arrangement (thank you, Becky Perry), but that’s going to be a project. It would be so much easier if the plants just rooted themselves in my ancient (circa 1979) concrete block walls.

white flowers growing out of stone walls small petals dangling cape cornwall england

Unidentified plants cascade from crevices in a stone wall at Cape Cornwall on the southwestern edge of England

The floating garden

The Kennet & Avon Canal is an 87-mile long waterway of rivers linked by canals winding through southern England. Built in 1810 and once plied by work boats, today, it’s home to 7-foot-wide houseboats, called narrow boats. A colorful sight! And how better to brighten things up even more than a boat-top garden.

A houseboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Pewsey sports the popular way for boaters to get their flower fix.

 The beer garden

If I lived in England, I could get used to the lunchtime half-pint. And, apparently, I’m not alone.

Beer kegs in Pewsey, England

The bicycle basket garden

Spotted this parked in front of a bed-and-breakfast in one of the villages where we stopped by for lunch.


Bike with a Garden in it's basket

The basket frame would require some effort, but who needs it? A wire windowsill basket would easily do the trick hung from the handlebars.


  1. I think your photos are even better examples of English Gardens than the typical, ho hum, beautifully manicured garden.

    • Gardens are a way for us to be creative. Some folks just don’t want to be creative Diane one year bought old handbags put plants in them and everyone but one neighbor loved them. Oh she went on and on about them she moved into a deed rest. Neighborhood she’s much happyer and so are we. I would never be happy if my yard looked like every else’s but she I guess is not alone. BTY Diane also used old boots and that really looked cool! My fav. Combo was boots with cautus

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