The traditional cottage garden was enclosed, sometimes by a hedge, but often by a wall. As the wall aged it crumbled and left little niches where plants could get a root-hold, grow and flower and thus enhance the wall as well as the whole garden. Many of the perennials that will grow in a wall are well known and grown in the border but their potential as wall plants is intriguing and shows them off in a whole different light.

Wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri)
The most obvious choice for a wall plant, Wall Flower has become such a popular bedding plant that we might forget it loves a spot in a wall. It is a perennial that is usually grown as a biennial. Growing one to two feet high, its one inch wide flowers appear in spring for a long bloom time. The fragrance of the flowers is a big plus especially in an enclosed garden. It is also a good cut flower.

    Type: Perennial often grown as a biennial or annual
    Color: Yellow, yellow brown in the species; peach, red in cultivars
    Light: Full sun to partial shade
    Soil: Fertile, high in organic matter, well drained, slightly alkaline
    Hardiness: Zones 7-10 (Often grown as a bedding plant in colder regions)

Rock Cress (Arabis caucasica)
A vigorous grower and reseeder, this Arabis will make a great mat of foliage that cascades down the wall for a foot or more. Its gray-green leaves are pleasantly scented and form an nice backdrop for the white single flowers. Cut it back each summer to promote new growth the following year.

    Type: Perennial
    Color: White
    Light: Full sun
    Soil : Fertile, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 5-8

Golden Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)
Golden alyssum is a great favorite for garden walls in a cottage garden and the species name saxatilis, referring to rocks, tells you so. The bright gold color may be a bit overbearing for some but the plant is more vigorous and dependable than its lemon yellow relative, Aurinia saxatlis var. citrinum. Cut it back after blooming for a longer life.

    Type: Perennial
    Color: Golden yellow
    Light: Full sun
    Soil: Fertile, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Snow-in-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Masses of snow-white flowers cover the woolly, gray foliage giving rise to its common name. A relative of pinks and carnations, Snow-in-Summer, it is a short-lived plant but reseeds.

    Type: Perennial
    Color: White
    Light: Full sun
    Soil: Average to lean, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Snapdragon (Anthirrhinum majus)
A long time cottage favorite, snapdragons are generally grown as biennials but are more perennial when growing on a wall. The old fashioned, cottage garden kinds were generally deep burgundy or striped, for example ‘Hendersonii’. Snapdragons can be up to 3’ tall but as the picture from Wikipedia shows, they look well growing on a wall.

    Type: Perennial usually grown as a biennial
    Color: Burgundy, white, yellow, orange, pink, purple
    Light: Full sun
    Soil: Fertile, well-drained
    Hardiness:  Zones 7-10

Cottage gardens pointerPlants growing on a wall create a lush looking environment and add to the feeling of abundance in the garden. Many self sow and will multiply over time. They are generally easy to grow, their only enemy being wet feet, especially in winter.

By Karen