Hidden Springs Flower Farm
PO Box 602
18581 County Road 4
Spring Grove, MN 55974
(763) 218-4540

H.S.F.F. Articles

Paeonia Species Article

Mailing Address/Office:
Hidden Springs Flower Farm
PO Box 602
18581 County Road 4
Spring Grove, MN 55974

Peony Selections for a Cottage Garden

Fragrant Double Red Peony August DessertCottage garden peonies are found in all colors and forms from early bloom season to late. These hardy perennials are long lived, fragrant and easy to grow.

Creating a Cottage Garden is a relaxing way to express your creativity in an atmosphere unfettered by hard and fast design rules. The key underlying principles are simple: 1) The cottage garden style is meant to be informal. Think of a broad overflowing border garden along a white picket fence. 2) Include those plants that are personally pleasing to you and don’t be afraid to include edibles along with perennials, annuals, colorful herbs, climbers and flowering shrubs. The key is to include a pleasing selection of different flower colors and forms. 3) The plants should be spaced close enough to fill the garden area so that the soil is not visible and the need for weeding is almost unnecessary.


sorrentinogarden.jpg 4) Garden structures like arbors, pergolas, and fences using natural materials or a simple white picket fence help to define a space and should be softened by the plants that invoke a feeling of being informal and casual while exhibiting both a certain grace and charm. (Article continues at the bottom of the page.)

This style lends itself to the large or small garden when the area created is thought of as an informal “garden room” where an informal bench provides a place to relax and enjoy the surrounding beauty as the colors and textures of the flowers used blend into a calm and pleasing tapestry.

One of the great classic cottage garden flowers was and is the peony. It’s blousy and abundant blooms, often fragrant and of brilliant to pastel coloration lent them to being used as a defining mass when in bloom and later as a broad shrub-like plant with lush foliage providing a backdrop to show off other plants as they bloomed in succession. Peony colors such as white or soft blush pinks can provide contrast and mitigate harsh combinations of colors that would spoil the grace of the informal cottage garden and those gardeners with a well trained eye know how important the use of the color white is in a truly great garden.


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While some gardeners focus on the use of heirloom varieties of peonies it would be a mistake not to take advantage of the advances made and include some of the Award of Landscape Merit peonies recognized for their strong stems, excellent flowering and wide adaptation throughout the peony growing areas of the world. One of the wonderful aspects of the cottage garden is that flowers and plants that are regionally adapted can be used since there is no prescribed plant materials list. The main requirement being that the flowers and plants used have a “natural” and less confined effect as the plants are intermingled rather than positioned in straight lines or stiff groupings. Modern architecture using the Arts and Crafts Style lends itself perfectly to this type of garden and peonies just look right in a floral composition to soften the strong and expressive lines that are part of this architectural style which often featured front porches perfect for getting closer to nature and the garden while relaxing after a hard day at work. Imagine enjoying the fragrance of peonies in bloom while relaxing as the day ends on such a porch.

For those with an interest in this style of garden we encourage further research into the writings of Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson.

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