A traditional Cottage Garden’s plant list might surprise you. The list would include fruit trees and vegetables as well as herbs. A sturdy hedge to keep out the livestock and it would be a rather informal style. I think rather than strictly adhering to what a traditional Cottage Garden would have looked like we should focus on the cottage garden of today. We will chose the two main characteristics of the traditional, informality and privacy as we design the modern one of today.
We are not held by strict rules and interpretations in our garden but by plants that are well suited to the type of informal plantings we are trying to achieve. Most of these plants may have been found in traditional gardens but we are more concerned how they will fit in to your landscape. The vision which I see is a well organized chaos with herbs mixed amongst flowering perennials to give fragrance to the garden as one brushes against them. The idea of ground covers of oregano, chamomile, or thyme that send a sweet scent as you walk over a path of stepping stones laid among these ground covers. Adding smell to that of the vision of the flowers in your garden we can add the third element of feeling as you add plants with different textures of leaves and stems.
Arbors and trellises give a feeling of privacy covered with clematis and trumpet vines these garden structures will help filter sunlight and give you a massive display of color. Planted as screens the trellises can also define the garden as well. Your garden may be defined by a hedgerow of evergreens or privet hedge as well. The main idea is to set it apart and provide a private relaxing area which you can enjoy and relax in. The walkway path should meander about the cottage garden not so formal, and planting beds should be not so geometric as circles and squares but more random shapes.
I would choose some of the more traditional plantings such as roses, yews, ornamental trees, and flowering shrubs for anchor plants in beds then add in ground covers and some of the season specific bloomers such as Tulips and Columbine. I would also add some late bloomers and intersperse with some annuals for summer color. A full bed full of plants will not only be aesthetically pleasing it will help to smother out weeds as well. Weather you need to plant fruit trees is a personal choice you could plant berry bushes or some of the cane berries instead or choose to forgo fruits all together it is your choice.