In her potager garden (the large plant-filled space around her home), Shaye Elliott of The Elliott Homestead creates an undulating space where flowers flow into each other and pathways meander among the blooms.
Designed and Photographed by Shaye Elliott of TheElliottHomestead.com
A mingling of various plants and grasses in naturally landscaped beds looks casual yet beautiful.
Photographed by Barbara Jacksier
A decorated shovel and farm funnels tucked among a rainbow of blooms provide pops of interest in this garden area.
Designed and Photographed by Carlene Blair of OrganizedClutter.net
Old, weathered, worn and rusty pieces get starring roles among a farmhouse garden.
Photographed by Matthew Owen
It takes more than just plants to create a delightful farmhouse-style garden. Rural vistas are a plus, but even if your home doesn’t overlook a barn, cornfields or cows, you can still landscape it in authentic country style.
Mixing tried-and-true flowers and heirloom vegetables with unfussy rustic antiques and other vintage finds will produce the results you want—guaranteed! Ready to get started?
Begin by laying out pathways and sitting areas built from local stone, gravel and wood. Next, create planting areas that appear as natural and undisturbed as possible. Borrow a technique from pioneer homesteads and delineate beds and borders with old bricks or interesting rocks.
What you grow depends on where you live. Flowers that thrive in the rainy Pacific Northwest are less suitable for water-challenged Southwestern gardens. Semitropical fruit and root crops that reach their full potential in humid Mississippi or Louisiana are poor choices for New England’s short, cool summers.
The amount of space you want to tend should also guide your choice of planting material. Low-growing pansies are ideal for narrow borders surrounding patios, while lofty lilac bushes are more suitable for larger landscapes.
Personal color preferences and the amount of time you want to devote to the great outdoors should also direct your selections. Do you revel in sunset-hued sunflowers, crayon-bright zinnias or pastel foxgloves? Does sowing wildflowers that will reseed or investing in perennials you can forget about but enjoy for many years appeal to you more than growing flower species that need annual replanting?
Scatter found objects and upcycled pieces throughout your landscape to establish focal points and backdrops. Identify unusual items to replace ordinary flowerpots and urns. Collect interesting junk-tiques to use as garden art.
Getting the hang of repurposing takes practice. When most people look at a rusted wheelbarrow, that’s exactly what they see. Farmhouse-style gardeners, however, see potential where others see junk. Drilling a few drainage holes and filling the tray with soil transforms the past-its-prime cart into a self-contained herb garden brimming with basil, dill, parsley and thyme.
Look at what’s stored away in your attic, basement or garage, and think about how you could reuse what you see. If you like to shop for bargains, you’ll find obsolete farm implements priced to sell in urban thrift shops. Past-their-prime furniture pieces and kitchen tools that are just a bit too old are often dirt cheap at auctions and flea markets.
If you can get your hands on a retired chicken feeder, plant its tall tube with cherry tomatoes for an accent that’s as functional as it is charming. Anchor discarded barn doors or house shutters to a chain-link fence or unattractive shed to disguise a less-than-pleasant view.
Almost anything that can hold soil and maintain proper drainage can serve as a pot. Add height to a clump of coneflowers by adding a leaky metal watering can hosting flowering tobacco (nicotiana). Nothing is off-limits, including old boots and children’s toys.
Slowly but surely, your garden will reveal both your personal sense of style and its own casual loveliness. If you’ve concluded that creating farmhouse style requires cultivating a relaxed attitude, then you’re right! Afraid you can’t cast aside years of aiming for a perfectly tended property? Don’t worry! Just change your mind-set to appreciating the beauty of rustic imperfection.