Jul 10

The Cottage Garden Society by Kate Hutchinson

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I was a young fledgling gardener when I first came across The Cottage Garden Society. I can’t even remember where now. Maybe a magazine article or a piece on the telly box? I was in East London, in a tiny city garden, desperately dreaming of blowsy borders, gnarled old apple trees and roses around the door, and The Cottage Garden Society seemed like a place to plant my dreams.

Cobaea scandens ‘Purple’, rampant but beautiful – perfect cottage garden plant

Of course I soon found out that The hardly anybody has the ideal cottage around which to place their cottage garden, and most people are making do in narrow city spaces or dodgy plots around new builds. It turns out you don’t have to live in a cottage, or even in the country. The traditional, informal style lends itself to any situation, rural or urban, large or small. What we cottage gardeners all share is the same desire for colour and beauty, a love of plants and a certain sense of informality. (Possibly too much in my case, according to my husband).

Tulips and euphorbia in early spring

The Cottage Garden Society (CGS) was founded in 1982 when cottage garden plants were becoming ‘unfashionable’. Those starting the Society wanted to protect this vanishing planting style.  They were concerned that, in the move towards easily maintained gardens, hard landscaping was becoming more important than the plants, still a potential worry today.

Interest in the Society soon grew and from small beginnings with the founders based in North Wales and Cheshire,  there are now about 3,000 members, and over 35 regional groups spread throughout the UK.  Most of these groups meet monthly for talks, garden visits, seed swaps and plant sales and to enjoy the extra benefits of mixing with like-minded gardeners in their own area. Some groups also have stalls at major shows.

Formed just this year, our newest group from the Cotswolds winning a medal at RHS MALVERN SPRING FESTIVAL.

The Society also has a great quarterly magazine full of inspiring (and often funny) articles and book reviews. Always a great joy the day it plops through the letterbox and everything is put aside for a cup of tea and a read. The Society also runs a seed exchange. There is something very special in sowing seeds generously collected by a fellow member you may never meet from hundreds of miles away, and then growing the flowers in one’s own garden.


I may never have a cottage in the country with roses round the door, but I am definitely a Cottage Gardener. Are you??


Join now and get two months free membership (renewal Oct 18).