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Cottage Gardening

 Using Australian Native Plants


Cottage style gardening has been popular in Australia since the first settlement. This is a garden to enjoy, with flowers growing in profusion, providing colour and scent, giving a sense of charm and timeless style. Traditionally, cottage gardens provide a random mix of ornamental plants, vegetables and herbs.

Many of our Australian plants can be used to create a cottage garden. These plants can offer extended flowering periods enabling you to create a garden that is colourful all year, also providing nectar and seeds for the birds. New plant selections, hybrids and grafted plants have presented us with a bigger range of flowering plants with improved garden performance.

Features of a Cottage Garden

  1. An abundance of flowers with a mix of annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees.

  2. Fruit trees, vegetables & herbs are often included and do not look out of place.

  3. Sometimes colour is the dominant feature with for example a blending of soft pinks, creams & whites.

  4. Scented plants and climbing plants are a common feature.

  5. Self-seeding plants can appear spontaneously, often in unusual places.

  6. Take care if you live near natural bushland, as some seeds can become invasive.

  7. Lawns kept to a minimum.

  8. The use of rustic ornaments such as cast iron water pumps, farm implements etc.

  1. Other ornaments, for example weather vanes, sundials, bird baths and garden seats.

  2. The use of picket fences, stone walls, arbours, arches & lattice.

Two Eastern Rosellas enjoy a bath in webmaster's garden.

Note the carpet of
Viola hederacea or Native Violet which, in a shaded area, creates a living mulch.



Planning a Cottage Garden

  • Select plants to give flowers throughout the year.

  • Use a careful mix and balanced blend of colours –usually soft shades.

  • Consider planting drifts of similar or contrasting colours to gain impact.

  • For a quick splash of spring colour, plant one of the paper daisies from the Rhodanthe species syn. Helipterum such as R. chlorocephala subsp. rosea or R. anthemoides.

  • Many of the daisies, Rhodanthe spp. and also the strawflowers, Xerochrysum spp. syn. Bracteantha, can be bought as seed from nurseries and supermarkets.

  • Growing plants in containers will provide ‘moveable colour’.

  • Taller shrubs to the back, smaller to the front.

  • Garden beds should be well prepared and mulched to ensure good flowering.

  • Plants will benefit from gentle trimming, particularly after flowering.

  • Consider plants with interesting foliage, such as the pink new growth of the lillipillys or the silver grey foliage of many Australian plants, to compliment the flowers.

  • Choose plants with scented foliage such as Mint bush Prostanthera spp. or Native daphne, Philotheca myoporoides. Plant them near paths where you brush against them.

  • There are many improved cultivars or compact forms available of many of our Australian plants, including the grafted Corymbias.

  • Many of the grevilleas will provide flowers for most of the year for example Grevillea rhyolitica deua.

  • Plants that produce a lot of flowers usually require a sunny position in the garden. Take care not to plant trees where they will cast too much shadow.

Cottage gardens require a lot of maintenance.


Australian plants for a Cottage Garden

Main flowering times are listed for the plants on the following list, many will carry flowers at other times.

Plant Name Common
H x W
Colour Flowering Local
Sun Part


Ground Cover              
Brachycome iberidifolia  Swan River Daisy 30cm x 1m White, purple Spr-Sum A Z Z
Brachycome multifida Cut-leaf daisy 15cm Mauve-blue All year   Z  
Chrysocephalum apiculatum Yellow buttons 15cm x 1m Yellow Spr-sum   Z  
Dampiera diversifolia   10 x 50cm Dk . blue Spr-Sum     Z
Scaevola aemula Fairy fan flower 30cm x 1m Blue- mauve All year   Z  
Clematis aristata Old man’s beard Vigorous White Spring L   Z
Hardenbergia violacea False sarsaparilla 15cm x 2m White, purple Spring L Z Z
Hibbertia scandens Snake vine 2m Bright yellow Spr-Sum   Z Z
Pandorea jasminoides Bower climber Vigorous Pink, white Spr-Aut     Z
Pandorea pandorana Wonga Wonga Vigorous White, gold Spring L Z Z
Plants under 1m              
Actinotus helianthi Flannel flower 50-90cm Cream Spring L Z Z
Anigozanthos spp Kangaroo paws H 20cm-2m Red, yellow, orange, green Spr-Sum   Z  
Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea Rosy sunray 90 x 30cm White-pink Spring A Z  
Rhodanthe anthemoides Chamomile sunray 50 x 30cm White Summer   Z  
Xerochrysum bracteatum Strawflower 20 x 60cm Bright yellow Summer   Z  
Dampiera stricta Blue dampiera 50cm x 2m Blue / purple Spr-Sum   Z  
Isotoma axillaris Rock isotome 30 x 30cm  Pale blue Summer   Z Z
Myoporum parvifolium Creeping boobialla 20cm x 1m White Spr-Sum   Z Z
Pimelia linifolia Rice flower 1 x 1m White, pink Spr-Sum L Z Z
Pimelia ferrugia Rice flower 1 x 1m Pink Spring   Z Z
Wahlenbergia stricta Native blue bell 30cm x 1m Blue Spr-Aut A Z Z
Shrubs under 2m              
Crowea exalata   1 x 1m Pink Aut-Wint


Hibiscus splendens Native rosella 2m Large pink Summer   Z Z
Philotheca myoporoides Native daphne 1-2m White Spr-Sum   Z Z
Shrubs over 2m              
Prostanthera ovalifolia Mint bush 2 x 2m Purple Spring   Z Z
Corymbia ‘Summer Beauty’/Eucalyptus Flowering gum 5m x 3m Red Summer   Z  
Chamelaucium spp. Geraldton wax 2 x 2m White, pink, purple Spr-Sum   Z  
Buckinghamia celsissima Ivory Curl flower 2 x 4m Cream Summer   Z  






   Hibertia scandens  Snake Vine


     Actinotus helianthi  Flannel Flower



Buckinghamia celsissima  Ivory Curl Flower  






Clematis aristata  Old Man's Beard


Produced by the Australian Plants Society, Central Coast Group in conjunction with
 Gosford City Council and Wyong Shire Council.

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