What kind of garden do you (and I) have?

Now that I’ve run through some of the many styles of gardens, the natural question is, “What kind of garden do I have?”

I think for me it’s safe to say that, strictly speaking, I have none the types of gardens I’ve talked about. And I bet that’s true for most of you. I think most gardeners tend to create what they naturally love, rather than strictly stick to a particular style. The exception to this would probably be people with houses that dictate a particular style.

What kind of garden style do you see here (other than rather disheveled with the paddleboard in the middle of the lawn)? Certainly cottage, but maybe a squinch of modern?

I have a friend who wanted to create a garden in her yard shortly after she was married and asked me for some tips. When I asked her what kind of garden she liked, her main criteria was that “None of the plants touched.” She couldn’t handle the somewhat disorganized nature of a cottage garden but she didn’t want the maintenance of a more formal space either. (As it turned out the marriage only lasted one gardening season so the no-plants-touching-garden never came to be.)

Until I did that post the other day on cottage gardens, I would have told you that’s what I have. But even I got a little shaky looking at all those intermingled plants. I’m no neat freak, and I will take asymmetry over symmetry any day, but when I looked at most of those pictures I thought: 1.) Eek, get your pruners out! 2.) I bet there are millions of snakes hiding in there. 3.) Too much! It’s all too much!

I pointed out that one of the more organized garden photos (above) was one of my favorites. And I know why. Because it’s informal in its plant choices but the repetition creates order that I, apparently, crave.

This photo from last year shows the vegetable gardening area of my yard. With vegetable gardens, especially, I seem to crave order. I'd love to build a fence around it and put in a couple more raised beds to create sort of a casual parterre garden (if such a thing is even possible).

I loved the comments I received after featuring different garden types. Some people were dying to get away from the angular nature of modern and formal gardens, while others, I suspect, felt like they needed to shower after looking at the cottage garden pictures. 

I feel like this area has just a bit of Japanese garden feel to it. With the manicured boxwood and and the rocks, it certainly doesn't feel cottagey to me.
That’s why I love looking at other people’s gardens. I think they say so much about the gardener. They are such a personal expression of who we are. 

There is a lot of “cottage” in my garden. I like plants and a lot of them. But even reviewing pictures of my garden from last year, I'm not entirely happy with what I'm seeing. I think I would like a bit more definition without being militant about it.

I've always loved this picture from my garden because I think it's a nice plant pairing, but this certainly speaks to the "cottage" side of my garden. Even the plants themselves feel informal as they sort of half flop over the patio.

I think that's the thing about gardens for me: Much like interiors, I wouldn't want to live with the same design forever. So my garden continues to be a work in progress. Where it leans cottage now, I'd like to balance that out with a few other styles. I think you can mix and match most styles in the same yard, so long as you have repeating elements that tie them together.

As my garden fills up with plants, it's not so much about the quantity anymore, but more about the design. I like to think of it as the progression of a gardener.

So what kind of garden do you have? And what kind would you like to have?



  1. Great post! As much as our garden is Asian influenced, it depends on where you are standing. Some areas are totally cottage-y. Really hard to limit oneself and less fun I'm guessing.

  2. I think we garden from the same genre - some organization with a bit of casualness thrown in. The shot of the roses along the fence particularly speaks to me - the colours are old-fashioned, the plant choices tumbling, but the symmetry is what draws your eye.

    I also love your borders along the pathway - is that nepeta growing along the edges?

  3. Loved the series - it's given me tons of ideas. I don't see anything wrong with having different styles as you move throughout a garden - as long as it isn't truly drastic, and it helps if it's a big space. I love the pathway you have, and I really like your hyssop & black-eyed susan combo.

    I've lived in my little house for 3 years, and I'm trying for something with symmetry & repetition of types & height, if not color. My main problem is I'm prone to ripping out the things I planted the year before... I've done this every year in one or two spots. Hopefully, this year I'll have a plan that works out.

  4. I'm having a bit of a quandary about this very subject myself. We have a newer (17 year old) house that leans more toward colonial style, but has vinyl siding so doesn't look very authentic. I love cottage gardens but wonder if that will look strange with our house style. I'm thinking it won't if I use restraint, but nevertheless it would be great to get your opinion!
    I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago here, with a picture of our house front. I'm sure you are quite busy, but if you get the chance would love to know if you think cottage would work with our house:
    I just found your blog today on the Apartment Therapy Homies nomination page and was glad to find a gardening blog I can relate to!

  5. These raised gardens can save your cash, time & efforts and at constant time these can generate the areas of well productive soil. For developing the vegetable gardens the raised bed is that the good initial step.


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