Sunday, November 27, 2011

TWINKLE, TWINKLE!

The steel gazebo that we had built and installed this summer (see earlier post) has been carefully painted (by yours truly) with first an epoxy primer that was like working with glue and then with a black machine paint. All total it took me about 25 hours to complete.  It looks great and is (I am told) rust proof.  With this being it's first Christmas here on the property I felt that we should honor it by trimming it with little lights.  It looks sweet out there in the dark by itself,  romantic and feminine.  I'm thinking this would be a great gazebo for an intimate wedding someday (in the summer or early fall of course).  Just the beginning of the holiday season preparations here at our place.  What are your plans for decorations for the holidays? 

A TINY SURPRISE!

I was stripping down the chicken coop the other day and discovered this teeny tiny egg hiding in the corner on the floor in the bedding.  I was quite surprised by this little find and discovered that other chicken owners have found the same thing.  Some of them told me how they preserved theirs but it was too late, I was dying of curiosity and just had to crack it open after taking it's picture.  Inside was a teeny tiny yolk about half the size of a pea.  Imagine that, perfection in miniature.  I will preserve any future small gifts I should receive as they seem to be very precious and few.  











Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autumn

The potager has been "put to bed" for the winter ahead.  This is a rather small vegetable garden but it produces very well and is more than enough for me to handle.  I call it my salad garden, using it mostly for on the spot, in season produce that can be put on the table right after it is picked.  Sometimes I get lucky enough to need to can tomatoes but not often.  The beds are raised with gravel paths in between, making weeding and overall management rather simple.  I compost the beds throughout the winter so they are rich with nutrients and don't get worn out and the soil is ideal.  The vine on the arbor is a grape that I got as a start from my neighbor, it is a Sweet Madeline Angevine. It grew like crazy this year, I had a hard time keeping it in check and even got a few teeny tiny grape clusters. The leaves are just now turning color and it looks like it's going to be golden and beautiful.  Sweet dreams little garden of mine.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

 We have had a beautiful fall here in the Pacific Northwest.  We can usually count on very nice late summer weather in September and perfect fall weather in October.  One of my roses has surprised me with late season blooms and my asters are beautiful as they always are.  Asters are so nice in the garden for fall color.  They are hardy and dependable and look inspirational on fall days when the sun casts its golden glow.  Consider Asters for your garden if you don't already have them, they won't disappoint.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

FIRST DOZEN!

This is why I have chickens.  Granted I have a few too many but my excuse is that I wanted 4 different breeds and only 2 of those could be sexed.  Actually, only 1 was 100% accurate (Americauna).  So after doing the calculations I determined that I should have enough to give me two hens of each breed.  I had decided that if I ended up with too many roosters I would find them new homes.  Well, it all worked out.  I have 12 hens and 3 roosters and I love them all.  I will have plenty of beautiful eggs to share.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

HOW FAR CAN IT GROW?

I have posted about this clematis before but this year it's performance has astonished me.  The cool summer has really made this plant a "happy plant."  It is planted at the base of a Tuteur and each winter I cut it to the ground.  It grows up the Tuteur and reaches out towards the picket fence as it gets longer.  This year I have measured a total of 28 feet in length!  The vines just keep growing and growing.  My only regret is that I do not know the name or variety of this clematis.  It has delicate flowers,  blooms prolifically and is a delight to see every day.  I hope you enjoy the photos of this lovely vine.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

August is upon us all and in the gardening world it means different things in different areas to different gardeners. As I have mentioned before we had a very cool summer this year but August is what it is and the plants all seem to stall and go into a holding pattern before giving in to autumn.  I too change my focus;  less watering, minimal deadheading, less weeding. I do however deep water my roses and young trees.  Time to gather like crazy (hopefully) from the vegie garden and see to the excessive zucchini crop, pole beans and lettuce.  Still eagerly awaiting the first ripe tomato (I know... it is the end of August) and cucumbers.  Slugs played havoc with my beds this year and all had to be planted twice, losing precious growing time.  Slugs also managed to eat every one of my much desired Walla Walla Sweet onions. Sad.  I am already composting that bed.  C'est la vie.  So I will take advantage of these "dog days of summer",  and take on some much needed painting projects and start my mental list of the fall projects ahead of me.  I am also being careful to take time to soak in the last weeks of the "blooms in my beds".  Echinacea, Hollyhocks, Loosestrife and Gaura to name a few.



APPLE ANNIE

One never knows about fruit trees.  Will the conditions be right for a bountiful harvest or will there be any fruit at all?  I have no idea what the secrets to a successful harvest are, one year we have 0-12 apples on each tree (Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith) the next we have so many it is difficult to figure out just what to do with all of them.  This year the Yellow Delicious (not a great "eating" apple) sprang forth with abundance and they began falling to the ground.  I gathered up the ones on the ground and took them to the barn where my horses are and all had a good treat.  I picked the rest (totaling close to 300) and spent several hours turning them into applesauce.  I have never made applesauce before but with the aid of the ever handy sieve attachment (that I borrowed from a friend) for my KitchenAid it was actually very simple. Not sure if we will eat 24 jars of applesauce, but I am thinking apple butter would be very yummy too!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

CUTTING GARDEN re-do

When I initially began investigating the concept of a Cutting Garden most of what I read said that a cutting garden should be hidden away somewhere where it can't be easily seen.  I already had my old lavender field at my disposal and it certainly wasn't out of sight.  Also, I will be opening my cutting garden to the public and feel that it should be an inviting and memorable place to visit.  So... my approach is a different one. It will be one of the focal points of our property.  It is currently undergoing a re-do as I have decided to take a new approach and will be using mostly old fashioned annuals (that I will seed and grow myself) in addition to the already existing perennials.  I will also have peonies as well as cutting roses.  The edges will be bordered with flowering bushes of various varieties; lilacs, wigelia, dappled willow, old garden roses with hollyhocks tucked in here and there. There will be lavender at the front of the garden.  I will add birdhouses, feeders and baths as well as a fountain or bubbler.  As I type this it sounds like an impossibly big plan. Hopefully, if all of the stars line up correctly my impossibly big plan will take place next spring.  The first step of this transformation took place this past weekend with the installation of a beautiful iron gazebo that my ever creative husband had constructed for me.  It sits in the center of the cutting garden. It isn't huge but at 6x11 ft. it sits perfectly in the center of the beds.  It will be painted black with a weather resistant paint and will one day act as host to several large vintage rambling roses.  Lots of hard work awaits me out there, but I feel it will be well worth it.  I will keep you posted next spring as to it's progress. 

ALMOST ALL GROWN UP!

My chickens have grown like weeds, as chickens do.  I am truly enjoying listening to them go about their "chicken business", clucking, pecking and scratching.  When I hear a commotion I feel compelled to run over to the coop and insist that they stop terrorizing each other.  However, I refrain and remind myself that they are in fact, chickens.  I have slowly begun to name them as they have matured and shown their personalities and individual markings.  The Roosters are named Dickens (polish), Winston (Wellsummer), and Hemmingway (Penadasenca).  Hemmingway is rather aloof and seems to be afraid of me, but he isn't aggressive.  They each have a unique crow and I love listening to them.  The Polish hens are named, Violet, Ruby, Pearl and Emmie.  Violet is darling;  she is tiny (about half the size of the other hens) and very independent and a bit of a loner.  My Americaunas are named Latte, Breve, and Macchiato.  Breve seems to have poor conformation in her tail, it hangs down all the time.  I am still working on the others names.  They love their big run and cozy coop.  Every night just before dusk they all head into the coop and roost.  I lock them in so that they are safe from murderous racoons and coyotes.  I keep their coop and run clean and they get treats twice a day in addition to their chicken feed.  Below is a pic of my Polish rooster, I think he is terribly handsome.  I hope you think so too.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

MAKING NEW LOOK OLD

If you're like me you appreciate the look of old, well used garden tools and pots.  It gives us an indication that they served (or serve) their purpose well and have a story to tell.  I am fond of the vintage look of pots in particular.  Terra cotta can be tricky however, because it tends to disintegrate over time.  I have a need for 24 pots to go into some iron "window boxes" that my husband had created for me and wanted them to have a well worn look.  I used the popular and easy method of lime application to the pots.  I purchased powdered lime from the local hardware store (I now have enough for the rest of my life!), poured about 2 cups of lime into a plastic container and added water slowly, stirring until I reached the desired consistency.  I have done this two different times now;  the first time the lime was too watered down,  which offered minimal results.  The 2nd time it was too thick.  After the lime has been applied to clean pots with a paint brush, allow it to dry.  When dry use fine grit sandpaper and sand the lime off, stopping when you have achieved the look you want.  Keep in mind that when you water the plants you put in your new "vintage" pots more of the lime will wash off the first time.  Ta da!  New "old" pots.  It's a very simple and effective way to add charm to your garden.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RASPBERRIES RULE

We have a bumper crop of both Golden and Red Raspberries this year.  I don't know if it's the excessive rain or if the bushes have just finally matured.  The berries are large and juicy.  I had two gallon ziplocks in the freezer from last year and decided it was time to make jam.  I haven't made raspberry jam before, just strawberry and pear jam.  Speaking of pear jam, it is to die for.  I use a recipe that was given to me by my mother in law.  But again, I digress, back to raspberry jam.  I managed to get 40 jars in assorted sizes. I can't imagine we will go through all of that in one year so I plan on giving plenty of it away as gifts.  I must say it turned out delicious.  Nothing beats homemade preserves.  There are many, many more berries left on the bushes.  I haven't decided if I will freeze them or make more jam.  I'm sure I will give some of them away as well.  Here's hoping your berries are producing profusely.  Happy canning!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Rosemary only grows where the mistress is master - anonymouta

CHERRY TIME

It is cherry season here in the Pacific Northwest.  They are readily available at the farmers market and at roadside stands.  There is even a little stand on the side of the road selling them for $1.00 a basket, quite a steal if you ask me.  Rainier and Queen Anne varieties are in high demand.  We are the proud owners of a Rainier cherry tree, unfortunately we have had this tree for about 8 years and this is the first year we had any cherries at all.  We had exactly 5, that is until the birds managed to get 4 of them.  We were so excited to see our little cherries finally making an appearance and just as they ripened the birds came snacking.  However, they took mercy upon us and left us one.  I took a picture of it just before we picked it and my daughter and I shared it.  It was delicious.  Hopefully. next year we will get more than 5 and hopefully, I will do some preventative maintenance and throw some bird netting over the tree.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

UNEXPECTED VISITORS

No, the unexpected visitors are not people who have just "dropped by".  These visitors are of the amphibian variety.  For some strange reason (all the rain we have had this year?) we have had one decent sized turtle, possibly a Red Slider, and two large bullfrogs show up in the back portion of our property.  They appear to have made their way up from the seasonal stream/swamp that we have just behind us.  They would have had to travel quite a distance to arrive at the location where we found them.  I have no idea why they would leave their swampy home but they did.  They managed their way through brambles, mud and skunk cabbage and crawled through a field fence finally coming to rest near the chicken coop.  They probably stopped there because that is where the dogs found them.  Fortunately,  all they did was bark with alarm and did not harm them.  We scooped them up and returned them to their safe haven.  I wonder if they will try and come back to visit.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Georgia O'Keefe anyone?

Calla Lilies always remind me of Georgia O'Keefes beautiful paintings.  She was a master at capturing the essence of the simplicity of beautiful flowers.  I have not had much success with Callas but this one has done quite well.  It must be in exactly the right place because the one that is just 10 feet south has never done much of anything.  It is not a huge plant but delivers lovely blooms every spring and grows slowly but surely as the years pass.  Green leaves and long strong stems support a single velvety white bloom with a yellow stamen.  Does a flower get any simpler than the Calla with absolute perfection in form and beauty?   


OH NO!!

I have 100 boxwoods that I nearly ruined myself planting about 5 years ago.  They were in 5 gallon pots and are on the list of "the hardest things we have done on the property."  Up until this year they have done beautifully.  They are the exterior definition of my back perennial beds with some of them on the interior of the border.  Last fall I carefully pulled out the soaker hoses that I no longer needed.  Some of the roots had grown around the hose so I clipped it on either side of the bush and pulled it out so as not to disturb the roots.  This spring the result of that decision has hit hard.  They are in shock and may be dying.  I am just sick!!  They are the backbone of my garden layout and were very expensive.  As I have looked down into the center of the large dying areas I can see bits of green, so I have decided that I must cut out the dead so that the new growth can get light and air.  This is going to be another one of my large tasks but must be done.  Hopefully it is the correct thing to do.  It doesn't make sense to me to leave the dead on the bush.  They are no longer the perfect beautiful bushes they were last year.  I am so sad. Does anyone have another idea as to how I can save these boxwoods?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NEW VS. OLD

It's a wonder how the "new and improved" items we use in our everyday lives are more often than not, not "improved."  With the exception of course being technology.  I won't touch on that subject as it is irrelevant here.  Except of course for the fact that I am writing a "blog" which is new and I am doing this on a newer version of the Apple laptop.  But I digress;  the point is that sometimes the old is better than the new.  Case in point,  the lightweight, colorful, easy to use and relatively affordable plastic watering can.  Yes, it's true, I who prefer vintage furniture, garden furniture and gardening "accroutrements", do in fact own a plastic watering can.  I have had it for a few years now.  I also have a lovely galvanized watering can that I use for display purposes (lest something should happen to it, it would be difficult to replace).  However, it is very true that you pay for what you get and plastic watering cans are no exception.  Last year mine became one of the dogs favorite toys.  It is hysterical to see them running across the lawn with either the spout or the handle in their mouth; they think they have hit the jackpot.  My galvanized can sits proudly at the corner of my deck year after year doing its duty of being "garden art."  The plastic watering can bit the dust this past week as the youngest of the dogs managed to completely chew through the handle as well as the spout of the plastic watering can.  I looked at it wondering if I should replace it or not and remembered my galvanized watering can that at some point in time served another gardener well.  Needless to say, I will not be purchasing another plastic watering can, but instead will put the galvanized one back into service.  It has the better spout anyway and my dogs will be hard pressed to use it as a toy.  It's time to let the old be new again and share with me the wisdom of it's past uses.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LATE SPRING

It seems that in many places across the country this year it has been a wet and cool spring.  It certainly has here in the Pacific Northwest.  It has only been recently that my beds have not been soaked with water and I am actually able to move soil around.  Everything is blooming much later than usual.  Yesterday, when I was puttering around in the evening I realized that spring really is the longest season here.  It lasts at least until the first week of July and depending on the summer, beyond that.  I have decided that rather than fuss about "summer never coming" I will enjoy the long springs that we have and the abundance of lasting blooms that it brings with it.  The Wigelia are profuse with blooms, which in turn makes the hummingbirds very happy.  This blooming bush has quickly entered the realm of one of my favorites and is very easy to maintain.  Consider it for your perennial beds if you haven't already.  Lovely in spring and summer and autumn brings out it's beautiful reds and golds.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DELICATE WISTERIA

I have so very many favorite flowers that I could never choose just one or even a dozen.  Amongst them is of course the Wisteria.  Some people find if too consuming both in care and in growth habit and would rather not have it in their gardens.  I love it's wild ways and the delicate flowers. It's intoxicating fragrance  floats on the breeze and causes one to glance around wondering where that incredible scent is coming from.  Mine is climbing on our "pavillion" helping to hide the hard edges of the roofline both on the outside and on the inside.  I spend time trimming it twice yearly to keep it in order, it is still young and relatively easy at this point.  The pic is of a single bloom that is tucked inside some branches of my dappled willow.  I love it when the plants intermingle.  I guess that is why I prefer a cottage garden style to any other.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

SNOWBALLS IN SPRING!

My snowball bush is quite large this year and heavily laden with beautiful creamy white clusters of hydrangea like blossoms.  They don't offer much of a fragrance but their beauty wins out.  My bush is very large and has a wonderfully wild look to it.  The branches reach up to the sky as well as droop downward, giving it a very romantic and old fashioned appearance.  I trim it yearly but all of the rain we have had caused it to grow excessively.  Unfortunately, after I took this pic one of the branches split down at the base during a downpour the other night.  Happily though it hasn't changed the symmetry of the bush and all is well.  I was sad to see all of those beautiful "snowballs" laying on the ground however.  Enjoy your spring.... it is a season filled with uncertainty as well as promise.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

Recently my blog has been flagged as a "phishing site."  This is an inaccurate warning and I am currently trying to remedy the situation.  I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Friday, May 27, 2011

SIMPLE PLEASURES OF SPRING

It has been a very wet and cool spring around here.  Very different from last year.  My flowering cherry tree bloomed 5 weeks later this year!  Then of course 3 days later a hail storm arrived sending a good portion of the beautiful blossoms onto the ground.  The lilacs were late as well, typically blooming just before Mothers Day.  However, they finally arrived and their scent has been lilting in the breezes ever since.  There is no mistaking the wonderful fragrant perfume of the lilac.  I am certain it is my favorite.  The forecast is for more of the same through June so everything will be delayed and diminished but I will continue to enjoy the simple pleasures of spring even if they do arrive at the beginning of  "summer."


Sunday, May 15, 2011

NEW DIGS!

The chicks became "tweens" and it was time for them to move out into their new coop.  They seem to be very content and happy to have more room to move around.  The oldest of the flock (Americaunas) wasted no time in trying out one of the roosts. Funny how their instincts kick in, no one taught them to do what chickens do, they just do it. They have loved going outside and can run back into the safety of their coop as they wish. The only ones who are named at this point are the Americaunas as they are all hens.  My daughter decided that they should be named after coffee drinks (after all we are in the Northwest), the bravest one is named  Breve, the most timid is Macchiato (Macchi for short), and the middle one is named Latte.  Their names suit their personalities.  Hope you enjoy seeing their progress, it is actually very entertaining watching "chicken TV.
























Saturday, April 30, 2011

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow.  -  Anonymous

A PEEK OF PERI!

Who can resist the sweet Vinca Minor more commonly known as PeriWinkle.  It is a delightful ground cover that puts on a beautiful display of delicate periwinkle blue flowers covering evergreen leaves. Mine is located at the front of our property in the first bed I created.  This pic shows the periwinkle tucking itself inside the tangled looking stump left behind after a beautiful, old and very large Maple tree decided that it had been upright long enough and simply lay itself down across our driveway in a very quiet manner.  I must say that we were surprised and devastated.  Of course it was rotten from the inside out, as is usually the case with these old maples, so we have another interesting large piece of wood left behind for plants to ramble on and small creatures to move in to. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

CHEAP! CHEAP! CHEAP!

More babies arrived today!  The darling Polish with their little cotton topped heads along with the Penadasenca joined the three Americaunas.  The original three had no idea what to think of this and huddled together in the corner of the crate probably thinking safety in numbers.  After a bit of settling in however, they all began to intermingle and are now one happy flock.  I currently have 13 chicks, more than I ideally would like but I have to factor in possible loss of babies and too many roosters.  It has been a lot of fun watching "chicken TV" and seeing them work out their social order.  Below are pics of each of the breeds. Polish, Penadasenca and the one week old Americauna.  I hope you enjoy their sweet little faces as much as I do.



Monday, April 11, 2011

TRILLIUM TIME AGAIN

When I first started my blog last year one of the first pictures I posted was that of the early spring wild Trillium that graces us with it's presence annually.  As I mentioned last year it is a native wildflower that if picked, the plant will die.  It is such a beautiful delicate looking flower.  The more we clean out the wooded areas of our property, the more Trillium appear.  First a single flower and as the years progress the flowers spread,  I have clumps of Trillium as well as the single flowers.  They stand out against the bright spring green that all of the rain here in the Pacific Northwest brings us.  It has been such a dreary and wet early spring this year that the bright white of the Trillium really shines and brings great joy and hope.  They never fail to make me smile inside.


THE FIRST OF THE FLOCK!

I am very excited to introduce to you the very first members of my first flock of chickens.  These little girls are the Americauna breed and when grown will give me beautiful blue eggs.  They are just darling with lovely markings on their heads and around their eyes.  It is so much fun to watch them and marvel at the instincts that they were born with.  Once they settled in and were no longer stressed, they ate, drank, scratched and preened.  When chilly they go under the warmth of the red light and when too warm they retreat to the edges.  Today they were feeling very confident and ventured out of the crate they are housed in to check things out  (with my supervision of course).  I try to hold them three times a day for just a few seconds each so that they become comfortable with human contact and hopefully will not be fearful and act out.  The remaining flock will arrive this Friday, 4 Padacasencas, 5 blue white crested polish.  These last two breeds are "straight run" so I am sure to have a couple of roosters.  Hooray!  I have always wanted a big beautiful rooster.
Look for more postings in the "peep show" category in the future.  I'm sure there will be lots to share.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GARDENERS

I have been pondering the concept of what makes a "gardener" truly a gardener for a very long time now.  Of course the polite answer would be that anyone who "gardens" runs the gamut from the potted plants on the deck or balcony to those who have beautiful large sweeping gardens that have been designed and maintained by professional landscapers while the "gardener" does the puttering.
However, it seems to me that to truly be a gardener requires a lot of toil, trouble and a certain degree of dirt under your nails.  There is the "potted plants on the deck" gardener who may very well be unable to acquire a plot of land of their own and this is how they feed their passion for growing beautiful flowers or edible vegetables.  Some of the very best gardens are those that are small and charming and filled with the gardeners personal flair.  The gardens that have been professionally designed, planted and maintained with the "gardener" doing the bits of trimming and has the luxury of enjoying the final effects of all of that hard work are those that I take issue with.  I ask, "how can they consider themselves gardeners?"
To me, to be a gardener literally means starting from the ground up.  From the beginning stages of the planning of the beds all they way to completion with all of the mistakes, frustrations and successes that accompany the hard earned title of "gardener" whether it is on a small or a more grand scale, the gardener doing the majority of the work themselves.  True, as we all age and get older we may be looking for help with the heavy work, but those of us with the gardeners soul will never turn over the actual tending of the garden. It is something we will do until we can no longer.  

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

There is a very fine line between "hobby" and mental illness. - author unknown

Saturday, March 26, 2011

HELLO HELLEBORES!

The earliest part of spring can be a true delight or a great frustration in the Pacific Northwest.  This year, a great frustration.  It seems as if the sun will never come out, however...  without fail the charming Hellebores always appear.  They are delicate looking and very hardy.  This year they poked their heads up out of the cover of leaves that I hadn't been able to remove and reached upwards.  Their heads have been loaded down with rain and this weather has probably lessened their "show", but nonetheless they are here, giving me cause to smile and look forward to sunnier and drier skies.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NOT A PRETTY PICTURE!

The pic below makes me terribly sad as a gardener.  It was once a honeysuckle that was actually thriving extensively after it's third home.  The first move was necessitated by the neighbors dogs chewing it to pieces, the second home was just not right and it's third home was perfect.  Full sun and picket fence as well as an arbor to ramble along.  It grew like crazy and was gorgeous, the hummingbirds loved it.  One offense against this determined honeysuckle was my husband.  It needed to be trimmed (when I wasn't present) in order for the septic tank to be pumped and he recklessly wacked away at it dead center.  I managed to do some aesthetically pleasing tidying up.  Just a couple of weeks ago, the worst damage to it yet was done by our young dog (whom shall remain nameless).  In just a very short period of time he completely destroyed my beautiful honeysuckle.  All of it's main branches were shredded to bits!  There was nothing to do but cut it to the ground and say a little gardeners prayer.  
Of course we all love the pretty pictures of flowers growing happily, but as a testament to the hardiness of this plant I wanted to post this pathetic picture because I am betting that by the end of summer it will be reaching it's way towards the picket fence once again.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

BABY CHICKS FOR EASTER!

Just ordered my first flock of chickens.  Padacascenca, Americauana and blue Polish.  They will be here just in time for Easter.  Looking forward to all of those yummy purely organic eggs that will be coming our way.  Will post pictures of them when they arrive.  Can't wait!

Monday, February 14, 2011

COTTAGE GARDEN PLANNING

As our thoughts turn to spring, now is the perfect time to start planning for the cottage garden you may have always dreamed of having.
Cottage gardens are always associated with roses:  shrub roses, climbing roses, and old garden roses with lush foliage.  They may include the Gallica rose, Damask rose, Provence rose, China roses, Bourbon rose and Noisette rose. As well as a multitude of perennials.  They seem to be the mainstay of the cottage garden and frequently have a "wild side" to them.  Vegetables are very much at home in the cottage garden as are herbs.  They can be intermixed with very little effort and blend in nicely.


Cottage gardens simply must have climbers; roses, honeysuckle, clematis, climbing hydranges, wysteria etc...  They add height to the garden and help to create a charming effect..

HOW TO DESIGN YOUR COTTAGE GARDEN:

There are many ways to create a cottage garden in your already existing garden or you can start from scratch.

As you begin to plan your garden, take the time to evaluate how you currently use the garden space and/or how you would ideally like to use it.  Keep in mind access to the garden from your house, driveway, sidewalk etc...   You will want to create pathways that draw people into and through your garden space.  The use of materials that are unstructured, such as flagstone, or gravel are a wonderful way to create meandering pathways through the garden or to a focal point, such as a birdbath or seating area. Cottage gardens typically have picket or simple wood style fences with  possibly the addition of arbors and gates. These allow for the opportunity to have a place for climbers to grow as well as flowers to peek out between the pickets. Gates with arbors around them are a wonderful way to encourage visitors to enter into the garden.

You can also consider the use of hedges as fencing and for privacy.  The traditional boxwood makes a nice exterior border, as do many other hedge type bushes.

The addition of birdhouses, birdfeeders, and birdbaths or fountains encourage beautiful birds to visit the garden and enhance the charm of the cottage garden.

As you plan your cottage garden consider creating areas for entertaining amongst the flower beds.  A covered area for dining, or a fireplace or firepit make a nice location in the garden where you and your guests can enjoy the beauty you will have created.

PLANT AND FLOWER CHOICES:

In the cottage garden almost anything goes.  The favorites, hollyhocks, daisies, old garden roses, phlox and many more require full sun.  However, you can create a cottage garden in the shade as well.  Hydrangeas, hostas, astilbe, ferns, bleeding hearts, hellebores,  trillium and other shade loving plants create an enchanting wooded cottage garden effect.  

Personal preference is to your advantage when choosing your cottage gardens flowers.  Shrubs typically don't have a place in the cottage garden but Hydgrangeas, Wigelia, Lilacs etc.. fit in nicely and give it some "bones."   A mix of free flowing flowers with those of the more contained style create a sense of  balance.  I prefer hardy wild looking flowers that have a long blooming season.  Ground covers cannot be understimated in the cottage garden.  Mosses (for shady areas), and sun loving ground covers look spectacular when growing between flagstone walkways, as well as ground covers filling in between perennials and companion plants.  They help tremendously with weed control once they are established, on the down side some ground covers can be very invasive and must be watched after.  

MAINTENANCE;

Starting a cottage garden is not for the faint of heart.  They require diligence and constant attention; but once established have matured and filled in the work load will be much less.  If your garden space is on the large side, you may want to consider creating individual beds slowly so that you don't become overwhelmed.  I have been working on my beds for 6 years now, with 8 new ones being planted this spring all while maintaining the ones I have.  Remember, if a plant is not thriving in its current location consider finding a more suitable space for it.  I give mine one year.  Also, patience pays off more often than not.  If a plant seems to have expired give it some time and a bit of attention.  More often than not it will revive itself.  Woody perennials are the exception here,  it seems as though once they die it truly is over for them.

EXPENSE:

Gardening is a costly hobby but can be done in a frugal manner by trying the following;  starting from seed what you can, sharing plant divisions with fellow gardeners, waiting for the end of the season sales or shopping on-line for good buys from the larger suppliers.  Once you have a few beds established you will be able to divide what you personally have and add to new beds.

PATIENCE:

I have never considered myself a patient person, but when it comes to my gardens I am very patient.  It is very satisfying to see the results of diligence and hard work.

I wish those of you pursuing a cottage garden great success with loads of patience.





Tuesday, February 1, 2011

FEBRUARY

The robins arrived 4 weeks early this year.  It will be interesting to see if spring comes early.  It can be hard to tell around here because spring lasts a long time and is unpredictable.  Just the same,  I have never seen the robins return home so soon.  Every day I see a big fat male with a bright red chest keeping an eye on a pretty female.  He sits on the arbor closest to my back door and she perches herself on the top of one of my birdhouse/feeders.  It really is amazing what wildlife will tell you about weather if you have the luxury of being able to pay attention as you go about your day.  My honeysuckle is already sending out tender green leaves, the weeping pussy willow is starting to bud out and several of the perennials are sending up green shoots.  My early spring to do's will begin once I get the winter to do's that didn't get done taken care of.  I still have leaves that have to be raked, my berries need to be tidied and trimmed and some of the bushes require attention.  Then I can get to the needs to be done now to do's.  One thing I must wait for is the ground to dry out a bit.  No weeding will take place until the soggy conditions around here subside, I can however complete a  multitude of tasks that will easily eat up my time, ie: pressure washing the mildew off of my deck and porches (blah!).  Well, better that than shoveling snow.  

GARDEN QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Every gardener knows under the cloak of winter lies a miracle...a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dreams. - Barbara Winkler

Sunday, January 30, 2011

WOODLAND ADDITION

 For the 2nd year in a row for Christmas one of our trees was a live tree so that we could plant it outside and enjoy it on a permanent basis.  This year we chose a Golden Deodora.  It is such a pretty evergreen.  Light green needles tinged with a yellow/gold, if you didn't know what you were looking at you might think that it is on the anemic side.  I adore it.  It's branches droop down a bit giving it a romantic feel which fits in nicely with the multiple cedar trees we have.  However, it needles are as sharp as the dickens.  I think it looks sweet out there in it's new home filling in the space where years ago we lost a Douglas Fir in it's youth.  It has towering evergreens one either side and reminds me of a small child with a big brother and sister looking out for it.  It seems to be looking up to them for protection and friendship.  It will look nice behind the gazebo that is planned in the area in front of it.