Table of Contents

Cape Cod Revival 1930-1955

Fig.56, Cape Cod Revival home design
Fig. 56
The Cape Cod revival begun in 1932 by Boston architect Royal Barry Wills, becomes after WWII, "the most popular home design ever known" (Schuler, 1988). Homes are small, and usually have no front porch, but by the 50s include a screened breezeway connecting the house to the garage (Fig. 56 also has a side patio). Builders appeal to a broad market by painting homes uniformly beige.

The Minimal Garden plan for a Cape Cod home
In the 30s most gardens are formal, with lawn and neatly pruned evergreens. This style changes little during WWII and by the mid 50s “many Americans in the post Korean War building boom, believe that elegant gardens are a luxury or indulgence” (Tischler, 1989). Instead, peacetime is used as an opportunity to return to family activities. With old utilitarian functions moved inside or eliminated, the back and side yards become extensions of the in-doors, accommodating children’s sandboxes, patios, and barbecue grills. While homeowners of these modest homes may choose their garden style from several options, including the cottage garden, the most common choice is still the manicured lawn with minimal evergreen foundation plants and carefully mounded shrubbery. The strategically placed foundation plantings tie the house to the ground plane, ‘soften’ corners, and screen the foundation. The front yard is simply a setting for the house. Fences and hedges in this minimal landscape are not used, with the lawn from one neighbor merging with the next.

The “Cottage” Garden plan for a Cape Cod home
Fig.57, "Cottage" garden plan for Cape Cod home
Fig. 57
Some dedicated gardeners, however, inclined to recreate the romance of the original medieval English cottage gardens or the later colonial versions with scents of heritage flowers, choose a cottage garden, to the delight of birds, butterflies and themselves.

The most successful cottage gardens are a mix of traditional and new plants organized for constant bloom and texture. The front and back yard is densely planted, with the path to the front door passing through a rose covered arbor set in a picket fence. This path is bordered by rows of double daisies, followed by a tangled mass of bluebells, primrose, bachelor buttons, self-sown annuals, a row of crown imperials, and leads to a climber-clad porch (Phillips, 1990). Edges of the yard are either lined with flowerbeds, (with taller plants in the back, supported by a white picket fence), or shrubs.

Paths can change in a cottage garden to define cameo areas of interest. Path materials vary from lawn to gravel to flagstone and weathered brick, while flowerbeds are edged with large pebbles or shells.

Water features may include fishponds, a rustic fountain, or simulated stream.

Fig.58, Traditinal cottage flowers
Fig. 58
Traditional cottage flowers are: Lady’s mantle, columbine, primula, creeping buttercup, catmint, chamomile, clematis, crown imperial, daisy, foxglove, fuchsia, ribbon grass, hardy geranium, hellebore, hollyhock, iris, lily, loosestrife, lungwort, lupine, narcissus, nasturtium, pansy, peony, sweet pea, dianthus, poppy, primrose, salvia, houseleek (hens and chickens), snowdrop, violet, wallflowers, and wisteria (Phillips, 1990).

Garden décor can include small statuary, a birdhouse or feeder, large clay pottery, garden furniture, and rustic low walls. Height can be added by the use of rustic poles made of willow, poplar, or hazel arches to support hops, clematis, honeysuckle or rose.

Hedges and topiary
Hedges are informal and from a variety of plant materials including hawthorn, or mixture of shrubs and perennials such as peonies, yew, box, wild rose, viburnum, or elderberry . Shapes play an important part in the Cottage garden and could include topiary trained from yews or pollarded willows. Trained yew or box trees can be purchased in pyramid, sphere, spiral, or lozenge shapes.

Fig.59, Bower in cottage garden at Colonial Williamsburg
Fig. 59
A bower – a partially enclosed seating area, often made from rustic materials and set along a fence line is a charming focal point and place to sit and contemplate the garden. The bower in Fig.59 is in a Colonial Williamsburg cottage garden.

The most common front and side yard shrubs are flowering hydrangea, forsythia, and bridal wreath spirea with a yew or buckthorn hedge bordering the lawn.

The ‘Cottage Garden’ is a charming, historically appropriate, and may be a wise ecological landscaping option for this style home.

Cottage Garden Plan

Fig.60, Cottage Garden plan
Fig. 60

Plant List for Cottage garden 1930-

Scientific NameCommon NameHeightWidthTextureSeasonal interest
1.Canna indicaCanna lily48"-60"30"CoarseSummer
2. Ipomoea purpureaMorning glory vine120"24"MediumSummer
3. Alcea roseaHollyhock24"-96"18"CoarseSummer-Fall
4. Dianthus barbutusSweet William18"6"MediumLate Spring
5. Bellis perennisEnglish daisy6"6"MediumSpring
6. Delphinium belladonnaDelphinium48"18"Med.FineSummer
7.Geranium erianthum• Cranesbill24"24"MediumSummer-Fall
8.Heuchera sanguinea• Coral Bells12"-20"12"MediumLate Spring
9. Hosta sieboldianaVariegated Hosta18"-28"24"-36"CoarseSummer
10. Iris germanica 'Florentina''Florentina', White iris36"18"MediumSpring
11.Lavendula angustifoliaEnglish lavender [zone 5]12"-24"12"-24"FineSummer
12.Lilium martagonTurk's cap lily48"-72"24"MediumSummer
13. Lychnis coronariaRose Campion24"18"MediumSummer
14. Monarda didyma• Bee balm24"-36"18"MediumSummer
15. Osmunda cinnamomea• Cinnamon fern36"36"MediumSummer
16. Paeonia lactiflora
'Albert Crousse'
'Albert Crousse' Peony
[White to Pink]
30"30"MediumEarly Summer
17. Phalaris arundinaceaRibbon grass [invasive]24"-48"24"FineSummer
18. Phlox paniculataSummer phlox24"-48"24"MediumEarly Fall
19. Phlox subulataMoss phlox4"8"FineSpring
20. Rudbeckia hirta• Black-eyed Susan12"-36"12"MediumSummer
21. Salvia officinalisGarden sage [zone 5]18"-24"18"MediumSummer
22. Smilacina racesmosa• False Solomon's seal36"24"MediumMidsummer
23. Thymus serpellumCreeping thyme6"18"FineLate Spring
24. Tridens flavus• Purpletop grass48"24"CoarseSummer-Fall
25. TulipaCottage tulip12"-30"6"MediumLate Spring
26. Clematis 'Madame Edouard Andre'Clematis6'-8'3'MediumEarly Summer
27. Wisteria sinensisWisteria100'5'MediumSummer
28.Physocarpus opulifoliusNinebark 'Diablo'4'-104'-10'MediumSummer
29. Rosa rugosa 'Alba'White rugosa rose   Summer
30. Rosa rugosa 'Delicata'Delicata rose3'-4'3'-4'CoarseSummer-Fall
31. Rosa setigeraBlackberry rose [climber]15'3'-4'MediumMidsummer
32. Sambucus canadensis• American Elder10'10'MediumSpring-Fall
33. Spiraea japonicaJapanese white spirea4'-5'4'-5'Med.FineSummer
34. Syringa microphyllaLittleleaf lilac6'9'-12'Med.FineLate Spring
35. Thuja occidentalis*• Arborvitae30'*5'Med.FineEvergreen
36. Taxus canadensis• Yew [topiary]3'-6'6'-8'MediumEvergreen
37. Staphylea trifolia• Bladdernut10'-15'8'-10'MediumSpring-Fall

Cottage Garden, illustrated
Fig. 62

A, B - Flagstone paths with creeping thyme C- Birdbath D-Arbor, #1 E-Arbor #2 and bench, Permeable paver driveway & path, Turf grass border
* Minimize pruning by selecting a cultivar that grows only to 8’.
Main Features of a Cottage Garden:
• Mix of traditional and new plants for constant bloom, densely planted
• Topiary
• Mixed plantings of evergreens and deciduous shrubs
• Brick and flagstone paths
• Picket fence
• Rose covered arbor over gate
• Wisteria arbor over bench
• Water feature such as birdbath, fishpond, or rustic fountain
• Statuary, birdhouse, garden furniture, clay pottery
• Habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and butterflies