Cottage gardens were originally created to raise crops to sustain families. Space was used wisely and flowers were few or established by blown in seed. They appear whimsical and unplanned and oftentimes they are.
While the cottage design style isn't normally seen much as a choice for front yards anymore, it was once a style that surrounded the entire home from front to back. See Cottage Garden Designs for more pictures, plans, and ideas for cottage gardens.