These days when talking about a cottage garden, we commonly refer to a hybrid between an ornamental flower garden and a domestic kitchen garden, with fruit and vegetable patches. The beds are often organized geometrically and even framed with decorative, short box hedges.
The choice of cottage garden crops often serves our needs to grow our own produce for our home and kitchen and often amounts to a variety of herbs, vegetables, berry bushes - but flower seeds are also necessary. There is also another tradition to keep a small fruit orchard in the northern part of cottage gardens, where possible. We would assume that these are long standing traditions but in fact the cottage garden was a British reinvention of tradition, as opposed to the very formal estate gardens of these days, which occured around the 1870s.
The ideas behind the development of cottage garden principles were to grow crops most effectively and efficiently with the often small spaces available and to create an aesthetically pleasing domestic environment at the same time. Yet, the focus is not merely pointed towards economical food production but these gardens are also to be understood as spaces of pleasure and learning about the principles of the eco system and sustainability.
Plants and cottage garden flower seeds are often selected according to a subordinate system and with importance given to, for example, their botanical affiliation, their utilization and their aesthetic effect amongst others. Another typical feature for an English cottage garden is the enclosure of the garden by either a fence, a stone wall or a hedge.