Cottage gardens were the beginnings of companion planting. Cottage gardens were usually small, closely planted gardens, where vegetables were mixed with flowers and herbs. Cottage gardens started through necessity, centuries ago, because vegetables were needed to feed the family, and herbs for medicinal purposes. Families used to grow vegetables in the fields, but these were taken away from them so they, used their cottage gardens instead. Not wishing to lose all their flowers they mixed the vegetables with the flowers, creating the cottage garden. The companion planting techniques that are used today, evolved out of the trial and error experiments of those early cottage gardens. This experience has been passed down over generations, with new ideas being added as they were learnt. The original cottage gardener had to succeed or his family starved. Very little time was available to maintain the cottage garden, so the garden had to care for it-self, being easy to maintain, and seemingly very full, so that weeds had no room to prosper. So the cottage gardener learnt to choose plants that not only " got along well together" but also helped one another, by creating an environment that was beneficial to all. Because the environment was at its best, the flowers would bloom for long periods, thus helping to keep the bees and other insects happy, the best set up for producing lots of good vegetables.
The cottage garden is still popular today because it creates an attractive informality, displaying a wide variety of plants that complement one another. Creating a very natural look, that is easier to maintain, then the more formal garden that are enjoyed by lots of gardeners. This makes the cottage garden very suitable for today's busy house owners, both of whom are probably out at work all week.
Cottage Gardens are a joy to create and a pleasure to live with.
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