Roses are a mainstay of cottage gardens, especially old-fashioned climbing or rambling varieties. Other popular plants for cottage gardens include clematis, honeysuckle, calendula, hollyhocks, carnations, lavender, lilies, tulips, daisies, marigolds, primroses, sage, thyme, mints, dwarf fruit trees and raspberries. Hawthorn, elderberry, privet and holly make traditional hedges for cottage gardens.
Cottage gardens are characterized by informal design and a mix of ornamental and utilitarian plants. Most cottage garden plants are woody or herbaceous perennials mixed with hardy annuals. Self-seeding plants are particular favorites, as they add to the informal look by popping up in unexpected places. Heirloom plants with a casual or romantic look and sweet fragrances are also favored.