The cottage garden in England embodies the garden of the laborer or farmer.
But for centuries, apart of a few references, that garden style found little space in books about gardening, even though of course the occupants of a cottage gardened if they so chose.
Jane Taylor and Andrew Lawson wrote in their book The English Cottage Garden:”In the main, the affairs of the peasantry were of little concern to the literate class until comparatively recent times.”
“Two of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century gardening writers who have most inspired the twentieth-century English garden are Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson. Both thought highly of the cottage gardens of their day, and often drew inspiration from them.”
William Robinson (1838-1935) once wrote, “English cottage gardens are never bare and seldom ugly…among the things made by man nothing is prettier than an English cottage garden, and they often teach lessons that the ‘great’ gardeners should learn.”
One thing we do know about cottage gardens is that they are usually restricted in the space for a garden of any kind.
In 1918 Richard Leopold Reiss wrote in his book The Home I Want: “While the plans of cottages are endless in variety, the amount of land available in any given town is often strictly limited.”
But that is what gives the cottage garden its charm: the ability to garden in limited space. The fore-court, or the area between the house front and the street, with its flowers and shrubs tightly planted together remains an enduring image of what we have come to know as the cottage garden.