A big trend for 2021 is Cottagecore, it was already on the rise in 2020 and really took off during lockdown. After all, it harks back to a simpler life, time to make a sourdough starter and kick off that bread-making hobby or just finding time to reconnect with nature, whether exploring your local area or sitting out with a coffee in the garden. Cottagecore is in tune with nature, a more sustainable existence, whether submersing yourself in activities such as gardening, growing vegetables or planning a flower garden. But most of all it's about generally maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.
Aesthetically it takes it look from the English countryside with a slightly wilder, more naturalistic looking style. The image of a cottage garden with its towering hollyhocks and spires of lupins with roses over the door is undoubtedly pretty but to keep the flowers going and the garden looking at its peak requires a lot of maintenance. Cottagecore is a lower maintenance version, more repeat flowering plants, perhaps a few grasses and so what if the borders billow over onto the path.
Roses still play a large part in the trend, I always want a repeat flowering variety where the blooms just keep on coming until the first frosts in autumn, oh and they must be scented. The pale yellow-apricot of Jude the Obscure, the fluffy white flowers of Tranquillity or delicate cream of Comte de Champagne. The rose specialists list nearly 500 different repeat flowering varieties, colours, choice of scent, climber or shrub rose, the permutations go on.
Grasses wouldn’t play a part in a traditional cottage garden but with the wilder Cottagecore style taking its nod from the countryside, there is no reason not to add a few, particularly the native Deschampsia cespitosa with its fluffy seed heads. Or the silky tassels of Miscanthus Sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ with its very fine leaves, leaving room for other flowers to poke through. The arch of the Miscanthus flowers can be mirrored with the spray of flowers on the stems of crocosmia, the yellow of Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora ‘George Davison’ or the orange of Emily Mackenzie.
The bees will thank you for any flowers at the blue and purple end of the spectrum (as long as they are single flowering varieties), they are particularly addicted to the vivid blue globes of Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’. Mixed in with some ox-eye daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare or any of the Leucanthemum x superbum varieties, the ruffled petals of Wirral Supreme or the pale yellow Banana Cream. Lupins although short-lived still pack a punch with their spires, my favourite for some years has been the deep velvet purple and red of Masterpiece closely followed by the blue-purple of Gallery Blue.
Mixed in with a few geraniums, the lilac Geranium nodosum or the blue with a white centre of Geranium ‘Rozanne’ will start flowering in late spring, carrying on until the end of summer. The lilac flowers on Verbena bonariensis are so delicate that they can be used in the middle (they still allow other flowers to be seen through them even though they can grow up to two metres in height) or back of a border. Astrantias are perfect for adding a dash of pink to the border such as Astrantia ‘Roma’, although I have to admit I’m coveting a new variety, April Love which is a longer flowering, mainly white variety with a splash of pink-lilac on the tips of the petals. And if outdoor space is limited or lacking adding a few houseplants still counts as a CottageCore!
About the Author
Camilla Grayley is a garden designer based in York, mainly working in and around Yorkshire but has travelled up and down the UK to design gardens and is always happy to travel to help clients with their gardens. I love creating gardens with strong architectural outlines softened by voluminous planting that draws on year round interest, ensuring there is something to capture the eye whatever the season. Gardens should always evoke all the senses from the colour palette on the eye, to the rustling of plants swaying in the wind to the amazing perfumes that can be inhaled, whether on a summer’s evening or the depth of winter.