Ah the cottage garden style – rooted in England, yet transplanted around the world, and beloved for its informality, and hence freedom it offers gardeners to test, explore, and mix-and-match, colors, forms and textures like few other styles. Allowing for mixes of annuals, perennials and even edibles, the cottage style offers a plethora of plant possibilities. Yet there’s one rule that helps prevent all this planting freedom from becoming, dare we say, a mess, and that’s paying attention to height. Just like in those class photos, tall folks in the back, then the mid-heights, then the shorties in the front, so everyone’s flowery face gets seen and admired. Some of our favorite tall folk cottage style classics include Hollyhocks, Delphiniums, Foxgloves, Lupines and Verbascums. They come in the brightest of bright blues purples and yellows, to the softest of peaches and pinks, and growing to 6’ or higher, may steal the show, even from your garden’s back row.

Hollyhock 'Halo Apricot'

The perfect “hock” for the impatient among us, ‘Halo Apricot’ and all those in the ‘Halo’ series will bloom their first year if planted early, like now! This beautiful, cherry-eyed, single apricot hollyhock is a long-lived and rust resistant 5’ tall cottage garden gem that also has the coveted fig-leaf foliage, and a wonderful multiple spiking habit. Just so much to love. Bloom time lasts from Summer through Fall, after which you should cut the stalks to the base and side dress with some compost.

Perennial USDA zones 3-10

Hollyhock 'Halo Purple'

Another blooms in the first year ‘Halo’ series Hollyhock, this ROYALLY purple, yellow-eyed beauty is adored by birds, bees and butterflies. PERENNIAL, RUST RESISTANT, 4’ across with multiple towers (5-8’ tall - no fooling!) bearing multitudes of cheery 5" purple blooms; ‘Halo Purple’ is super useful for adding gorgeous vertical structure to the back of a border. The blooms start in Summer and the show just keeps on going until the first major chill (this Hollyhock is quite hardy)! Staking the stalks will keep 'em proud and tall. Well-drained soil is recommended, cut back to the base and give a 1" a blanket of compost after the blooms are spent.

Perennial USDA Zones 3-10

Delphinium elatum 'Cobalt Dreams'

The most OUTRAGEOUS Delphinium you can grow! No mildew-prone wimp that disappears after one season, but a reliably perennial, multi-spiking, extra-large-flowered jumbo delph to 6’ tall and 4’ across! Royal-blue spikes make sumptuous cut flowers! Grow in loamy soil with compost in Spring and Summer for huge spikes; cut back to 6” when spent for repeat bloom. Butterflies! Deer resistant.

Perennial USDA Zones 3-10

Delphinium elatum ‘Dusky Maidens’

Unsurpassable in the big and tall department! Scrumpdillyicious, XL, mulberry colored blooms with dark, fuzzy “bees” form multiple, 3’+ spikes on ex­tremely strong stems for seriously decadent bouquets. To at least 6’ tall and 4’ across. Mid-Spring blooming, it blooms again in Fall if you cut it back and add a little compost. To-die-for cut flowers! Rich soil for awesome performance. Thanks goes again to the Dowdeswell family of New Zealand for their dedication to these towering and robust Delphiniums that grow so well for us here by the Bay! Grown from seed so color can be somewhat variable.

Perennial USDA Zones 3-10a

Digitalis purpurea ‘Sugar Plum’

This incredibly showy foxglove displays the most vivid pink and purple bell-shaped flowers of any found in the species. A rich pink on the outside, these nearly two inch wide flowers are a saturated burgundy-purple on the inner throats. That same color provides additional speckling on the sides, making this one of the most flamboyant foxgloves one can grow. Plants first form rosettes of downy, oval green leaves and then come early summer send up thick spikes crowded with flowers much beloved by hummers and bees. This foxglove is perfect for adding a vertical element to a part shady bed, as well adding pizzazz to a woodland bed. It's a wonderful addition to a pollinator garden and is valuable for those dealing with deer, as they will avoid it. Looks nice planted in drifts but can also spruce up a large container. Short-lived but gorgeous. May reseed.

Biennial Shrub USDA Zones 5-11

Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Peach'

We were surprised at how fast these lovely new hybrid Foxgloves bloomed – just a month or two depending on weather! Much better than waiting until year 2. And, they repeat bloom whether you snip them for the vase or after the spikes are spent … nice! Romantic nodding soft apricot-peach flowers glow on multiple 2’-30” spikes (perfect for cutting), bringing charm and vertical accents to cottage gardens, shade gardens, along your entryway or in large containers. Clay tolerant but best in rich soil. Deer and rabbit resistant! Attracts bees, butterflies and hummers! Grown from seed so colors may be slightly variable.

Short-Lived Perennial USDA Zones 5-10a

Lupinus regalis ‘Gallery Yellow’

A gorgeous MILDEW RESISTANT, VIGOROUS and long blooming Lupine that grows so well here in our foggy coastal climate. For years we have so coveted those storybook Lupines seen in photos of East Coast gardens but they just wouldn’t grow here. Now we can rejoice! Big luscious 12” or more erect spikes of cheery yellow blooms can now be had mid-Spring through Fall. Cut them for bouquets or dead head for continuous bloom. The lush bright green palmate leaves really stand out in the garden too and form a nice dense mound to 2’ tall and 3’ across. Now remember, storybook Lupines are rather piggy and need rich humusy soil. I side-dress with compost once in early Spring and again in Summer for plant happiness and the most blooms. Goes deciduous in Winter but returns reliably each Spring. A great plant for attracting butterflies and bees and deer hate it! Will wilt if it gets too dry.

Perennial USDA Zones 4-10a

Lupinus polyphyllus 'The Governor'

Big, stately and glamorous, bi-colored blue-purple and white 12-18” spikes of this cottage classic make for a gorgeous vertical statement. And the dense 24-30” clump of palmate leaves delivers outstanding foliar interest in the garden. Blooming late Spring to mid-Summer it’s quite a phenomenal presence in the border or large (20+ gal) container. Definitely provide rich, composty soil and good air circulation for best performance. Butterflies! Deer resistant.

Biennial USDA Zones 4-10a

Verbascum hybrid ‘Southern Charm’

We firmly believe there is a place for Verbascums not only in every cottage garden, but almost every garden. period. We love ‘Southern Charm’ not only for its mix of sophisticated colors, but because it’s super simple to grow and almost everblooming. If you cut back spent spikes it continuously sends up new ones 24-30” tall and is elegant with single blooms of either chamois, dusty rose or apricot, with fuzzy, purple eyes. One of those wonderful plants that makes you feel very successful even though you’ve done absolutely nothing! It’s perennial too! Not fussy about soil, it blooms more with compost. Drought tolerant, deer AND snail resistant – you just can’t go wrong!

Perennial Shrub USDA Zones 5-10a

Verbascum ‘Cotswold King’

The cartoonish “faces” on this wonderfully rewarding Verbascum look just like “Yosemite Sam!” And you should definitely try this extra large flowered, sweetly scented variety not only for the chuckles but also because they are so simple to grow and the quickest to bloom. To 5’ tall, those 2” bright lemon yellow flowers stud the upper 30” of the upright spikes late Spring, bringing a sunny, uplifting impact to the garden. Plus, it easily self-sows so you’ll get lots of future freebies! Cut back after bloom is spent, for secondary spikes in Mid-Summer. Snail proof, deer, and rabbit resistant. Showiest in rich soil. Attracts butterflies and bees.

Perennial USDA Zones 7-10a

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Annie's Annuals & Perennials
Nursery: 740 Market Ave. Richmond, CA 94801
Business Office: 801 Chesley Ave. Richmond, CA, 94801
(888) 266-4370