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English cottage gardens originally were not manicured gardens of the rich, but functional gardens of the country people from the 17th century.
The people were poor and used the gardens to grow food to supplement their incomes, but would also have some flowers.
The romantic notion is of a thatched cottage with Roses and hollyhocks and many other plants in a slightly unruly looking style.
The modern perception is of a garden packed full of flowering herbaceous plants, herbs , shrubs, bulbs and roses and perhaps a few ornamental looking vegetables amongst the flowers.