phlox

Beauty in Chaos: The Basics of Cottage Gardening

cottage gardening feature pic

A cottage garden is a colorful tangle of tumbling flowers and plants that provides a cheerful welcome for visitors. This gardening style is an exercise in creativity and an expression of individuality, with each garden being completely unique. If you've ever thought about starting a cottage garden, here are some tips to get you started: The basics

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IMG_20140802_112704403_1 (1)

  • Invest in your soil: Soil quality directly affects plant quality, so make sure soil amendment is one of your first undertakings. Soil is filled with organisms that are essential to healthy plant growth, and adding manure or compost is a perfect way to ensure plants have the nutrients they need.

  • Consider light conditions: Keep in mind that plants in their ideal conditions are going to thrive and require less upkeep. In general, flowering plants need more sunlight than foliage plants. Have a good idea of how much sun your garden area gets and at what times of the day: is it morning or afternoon sun? Some plants may prefer one or the other.

  • Start with a small area: This allows you to experiment with various plants and slowly build a more intricate garden. You can always move things later if you change your mind.

  • Tall in the back, short in the front: Be sure to position plants with regard to their height so that there is visual interest to pull the eye up and down. Also, take spacing needs into account so that full-grown plants don’t end up crowding each other.

Plant considerations

There are no right or wrong plant choices for this type of garden. Cottage gardens have a soft, romantic feel, which comes from classic flowers. Some traditional cottage garden plant examples are: hollyhocks, daisies, phlox, foxglove, roses and lavender. Don’t overlook fruits, herbs and vegetables as options: not only are they ornamental, but they are a return to the original purpose of cottage gardens, which was to produce food and flowers for a family.

beautifulflowers

beautifulflowers

It’s important to consider plant textures and shapes. Part of what makes a cottage garden exciting is the artful mixture of a variety of plant shapes and hues. Varying textures and colors give a cottage garden depth and, while at first glance things may seem chaotic, viewers quickly realize that there is a flow and balance in these gardens. Repeating plants or colors is a good way to create harmony and avoid a garden that appears jumbled.

Incorporate objects and barriers

Dress up your cottage garden by creatively using decorative objects, as well as fences and barricades. Fences or barriers can neaten the look of rambling plants and provide support for tall vegetation. When it comes to sculptures or decorations, the more offbeat, the better! Twig structures, lattices, sundials, birdbaths, and fountains are some objects to consider. Natural or worn materials look right at home in cottage gardens, but don’t overdo it: the plants should steal the show.

And the biggest tip for cottage gardening is to just have fun with it! These gardens are ever-evolving, so it’s perfectly okay to keep tweaking plants, placement and objects until you find the combination that speaks to you. Above all: take time to relax and enjoy your garden!

For more gardening tips, be sure to visit the garden center. Our friendly staff is on-hand seven days a week with answers to all your gardening needs.

Perennial Sale

So, what do you do when you have more perennials than can fit on your tables?  When you receive so many plants in one week that they are spilling over onto the ground? You have a SALE, that's what you do!  All this weekend, purchase 10 perennials and receive 10% off, 20 perennials and receive 20% off, 30 or more perennials and receive 30% off. Now that's a sale! We have so many gorgeous perennials currently in stock. It is a pure joy to walk the grounds.  I am truly amazed at the huge selection of plants available, from drought tolerant species to shade lovers to ground covers to succulents to tall spires of blossoms, and everything in between.

Besides having a stunning array of plants to choose from, Garden Supply also offers a huge variety among species.  Take the lovely shade tolerant perennial commonly known as Coral Bells, for example.  I counted approximately 15 varieties of Heuchera alone, in a wide range of color options, foliage size and venation, and preferred growing conditions. Take a look at what I mean.

We have Heuchera 'Velvet Night', 'Miracle', 'Marmalade', 'Midnight Rose', 'Palace Purple', 'Montrose Ruby', 'Obsidian', 'Snow Angel', 'Plum Pudding', 'Berry Smoothie', 'Blackout PPAF', and 'Silver Scrolls'.  I brought home this variety called 'Tapestry' and planted it in a pot under my deck in an area that receives a lot of shade.

'Tapestry' has stunning multicolored and veined foliage with free flowering stems of warm pink flowers.  The dark-centered leaves are colored blue green in spring and summer, changing to green in the fall and winter.

And of course we have many, many more plants to choose from.  How about some Artemisia, Asclepias, Platycodon, Gypsophila, Penstemon, Agapanthus, Lavandula, Nepeta, Leucanthemum, or Silene?

Silene, commonly referred to as Catchfly, has narrow, strap-like leaves with dark green centers and wide creamy gold margins.  Their single pink flowers are attractive to butterflies.

Or maybe you would prefer some Lobelia, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Euphorbia, Lysimachia, Echinacea, Baptista, Scabiosa, Linum, Verbascum, or Centaurea?

Centaurea has deep purplish-blue flowers with thistle-like centers over foliage that is lightly covered in silver hairs.  It will self-seed and attracts butterflies.  Centaurea is deer resistant.

Yet still we have Phlox, Salvia, Veronica, Armeria, Tickseed, Papaver, Cerastium, Achillea, Sedum, Monarda, Helianthemum, Gazania, Eryngium, Gallardia, Foxgloves, and Columbines.  Just to name a few!

I'm out of breath!  How about you?

Make sure to stop by the garden center this weekend and take advantage of this wonderful sale.  You'll have your gardens looking amazing with brand new plants fresh off the truck while enjoying some serious savings at the same time!

We'll see you soon!