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Writing about the Cottage Garden Appeared in 17th Century England

As garden trendsetters in late nineteenth century England, landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll and garden writer William Robinson opened the door for middle class gardeners to take greater interest in the garden of the cottager.  They recognized the skill it took to garden in a small space.  Both thought gardeners could learn from the cottage gardener.

Before that time there was little written about the cottage garden since from the early eighteenth century the only garden of interest to major writers was that of the aristrocrat who owned acres of land and employed a team of gardeners.

There had however always been an interest in learning about the cottage garden.

An English garden magazine called Cottage Gardener: Pratical Guide in every department of Hoticulture and rural and domestic economy appeared by the mid nineteenth century.  The magazine offered the cottager articles like “Our Village Walks.”

Earlier yet we see that one seventeenth century garden writer did not exclude the cottage garden in his work.

cottage garden
This cottage garden in Delaware shows a small space planted with annuals, perennials, shrubs, and vines.

In his book The Story of Gardening Richardson Wright said, “By 1677 [the English agriculturalist] John Worlidge could write, ‘There is scarce a cottage in most of the southern parts of England but has its proportionable garden, so great a delight do most of men take in it.’ And ever since the cottage garden has been one of the delights of England.”

The joy of the cottage garden was the owner’s ability to garden in a small space. Often the house was close to road, offering a limited area for cultivating plants.

To this day we love the cottage garden perhaps because many of us continue to garden in a limited area and we hunger for inspiration.

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