Create Your Own Cottage Garden

Saturday, June 26th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Finish planting the summer vegetable garden. Seeds of early corn, and beans can go directly in the soil and plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash, cucumbers and basil can be set out.
    • Fertilize container plants every 10 to 14 days with a liquid fertilizer. Pinch off faded blossoms and they will keep blooming all summer for you.
    • Red, white and blue petunias, verbena or combinations of these with lobelia, geraniums, impatiens and salvia will make a nice display for the Fourth of July.
    • Attract birds to your garden with a concrete bird bath. They come in many attractive styles and make good gifts.
    • Feed rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias with an acid plant food to encourage lush growth. Pinch or prune to promote full, dense growth.

Create Your Own Cottage Garden

Whether the image comes from a childhood storybook or a memory of Grandma’s flower beds, the informal, joyful look of a cottage garden is appealing to many of us. Even the names are magical, like “lamb’s ears”, “pincushion flower”, and “love in a mist”. You will enjoy giving tours of your garden as much to share their colorful names as their glorious flowers.

Don’t worry about “rules” when making a cottage garden. Just have fun creating pleasing combinations of color, texture and proportion. You’ll need to take into consideration the amount of sun or shade the garden area receives and choose appropriate plants accordingly.

Traditionally, an English cottage garden is a front yard garden enclosed by a wall, fence or hedge. It has a welcoming front gate and a path to the front door. More paths define the beds which are filled with a rich mixture of plantings.

You may want to begin with a structure such as an arbor or trellis. Nothing says “cottage garden” more beautifully that a rose-and-clematis covered arbor surrounded by a rainbow of cheerful flowers. Or perhaps a fountain or birdbath, a statue or a gazing ball will give your garden a special touch that makes it uniquely yours.

The real show in a cottage garden is a relaxed jumble of free-flowing flowers, vines, trees, shrubs, bulbs and ground covers. The well-defined planting beds give structure to the garden: an “organized disarray.”

Try for a long season of color by using perennials that flower at different times through the spring and summer. Roses, peonies, carnations and hollyhocks were among the perennials commonly planted in days gone by. Hydrangeas, lilacs, lavenders and daisies of all types add a profusion of color. Tall sunflowers will follow the sun through the day. Ornamental grasses can be mixed in with the flowers, and bulbs can be tucked in between.

Even herbs and vegetables are welcome in the cottage garden. A ‘Patio’ tomato plant will stay neat and compact, eggplants can be enjoyed for their flowers as well as their fruits, and lettuces come in many colors and leaf shapes to add texture to the border.

Your cottage garden can feature similarly colored plants in groupings that paint the garden with swaths of color, or a mixture of contrasting colors that shout joyfully to passersby.

No matter how you interpret the cottage garden style, remember that a barely controlled jumble of plants suggests the workings of nature over time and gives the garden its much admired, storybook charm.

Colorful Combinations

Saturday, June 26th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Cage or stake tomatoes while still small so that you can train them as they grow.
    • Roses bloom all summer with their abundant flowers in so many different colors. Choose some now when you can see their lovely flowers.
    • Paint trunks of young fruit trees with Tree Trunk White. This will keep the soft bark from sun-burning which leaves cracks for borer insects, the most common cause of death of young apple trees.
    • Petunias, in bright pink, red and purple, will add beauty and color to sunny borders all through the summer.
    • Look for a colorful plant or a useful tool for Dad for Father’s Day. A fruit tree might be just the thing, or a pair of Felco pruning shears.

Color Combinations for Flower Pots

How do you take a nice big pot, fill it full of plants and finish up with something that not only looks great but grows great too? Think ‘Thriller’, ‘Filler’ and ‘Spiller’. 
 Thriller stands for the tall plant in the combination. It is often a spiky tall accent which can be in the center or in the back of your combination.

Filler will be the center bulky or eye-catching special plant. It can be round or grassy, but it’s the center of attention.

Spiller, of course, stands for the hanging plant that falls over the edge and continues the line on down onto the container surface. If it is a basket, then you have lots of ‘floppy’ plants and you might want to vary the look with different colors or textures.

Use plants with different textures of foliage or flowers. If all the plants have narrow long leaves that is boring. The same with all big fat round foliage. Try to have different types.

For professional looking results, consider following a color theme. Use all one color, such as all blue flowers, for a monochrome look. Pastel flowers provide soft colors that are most effective in gentle light, shade or morning sun situations. Vivid bold colors look best in bright sun. Red, yellow and orange flowers look great in terra-cotta planters.

Here are some ideas for colorful combinations. Let a colorful grass or New Zealand flax arch from the center, flanked by pink and purple petunias and plum-colored Heuchera with rose calibrachoa tumbling over the side of the pot.

Use Kong Coleus for the tall centerpiece, with a Figaro Dahlia, yellow or red, in the middle and colorful portulaca draping over the sides.

Start with a bright-colored Gerbera daisy, plant Northern Sea Oats grass behind it and fill in with yellow million bells to tumble over the front of the pot.

Another good summer mix is a combination of pink or purple petunias, with dusty miller, and a heavy border of white sweet alyssum. Put the taller dusty miller towards the back, fill in with the petunias, and finish with the white alyssum.

Use Victoria Blue salvia for the spiky plant, pink verbena for the spiller and a purple-leafed Heuchera for the filler.

Zonal geraniums have bright, colorful leaves. They are perfect for the eye-catching filler plant. For a lime-green effect, choose a yellow-leafed geranium, add some dark-leafed fibrous begonias, and let yellow calibrachoa hang over the sides.

For a shady area, start with a green-and-white variegated Hosta. Add color with impatiens and Non-Stop begonias.

Add some new life to your container garden display by exploring different color combinations in your flower pots. You will be surprised at the very different effects you can create.