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Posts Tagged ‘planting a garden’

A Cottage Garden May Be Just Right For You…But Don’t Plan a Cottage Garden

If you like a lot of different kinds of plants…

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Asian Lilies, Delphiniums and Hollyhocks

If you like a lot of flowers blooming…

If you don’t want to worry about strict, formal lines and forms…

If you want your garden to feel natural, like it all happened on its own…

If you like using vintage pieces in your garden…

If you like the idea of plants seeding themselves or multiplying on their own…

If you want a garden that make you want to just hang out and relax in…

Maybe a Cottage Garden is just for you.

A cottage garden is loosely planned, and heavily planted. I think that most gardeners are a lot like me when it comes to plants. It seems that I’m a plant-aholic. I can’t seem to ever have too many. Even when I’m sure that I’ve maxed out the space available, I can always squeeze in one more specimen I’ve found.

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2011 - perennial bed beside deck

Plants that bloom, smell good and re-seed or spread will eventually find a way into my garden. The great thing about having such a variety of plants is that most of them bloom, but not at the same time. So I have something blooming somewhere all during the growing season. If you have all the same plants then the blooms are all done with at the same time.

I did lay out a plan of the yard but only loosely designated a certain area for “flower bed” or “berry patch”. I paid attention to the height of the plants, so they would all fit together nicely, and to the sun and water requirements. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the bloom time but I didn’t really do that, and most of the time I was lucky. The blooms for any season, spring through fall, are spread around the whole yard pretty evenly.

If you follow the planting guides on most seed packets or plant instructions, your garden will look good eventually. While the plants are growing and reaching their full potential, there can be a lot of empty space to fill. It can either be filled with annuals for a year or two…or three, or with mulch. I like to plant things much closer than the instructions say because I like a very full garden. If the plants get a little crowded, it’s okay. If they ever get too crowded, I divide and move some or share with friends.

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Loosestrife and roses by garden gate

I like blooms. I love having flowers in the house, so I plant plenty so that I can cut plenty to use and to share. Try some of the cottage garden favorites like hollyhocks, foxglove, phlox, daisies, roses (of course), peonies or lilies.

It doesn’t take a lot of room to have a cottage garden either. A tiny plot by the back door will do. How about a 3′ border down the side of your lawn? I’d rather have the 3′ lawn and the rest in flowers, but that’s just me.

Mix in some vegetable plants along the way. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, squash and many other beautiful vegetable plants will fit right into a cottage garden.

Formal gardens are pretty but they don’t draw me in and make me feel as happy as I feel when I’m in my (slightly messy) cottage garden.

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Agastache, Sedum, Phlox, Roses and Rhubarb

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Phlox, Echinacea or purple coneflower by birdbath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Planting Seeds In Your Garden…Read The Fine Print To Insure Success

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Hollyhocks and Echinacea grown from seed

Many of us are enjoying going through our garden catalogs and dreaming of next summer’s garden.

There are many plants, besides vegetables and annuals, that can be grown from seed. It’s an inexpensive way to get a lot of really nice plants. It’s one of the ways that I have so many plants in my garden. Seeds may take a little longer to produce the beautiful, mature plants on the picture on the package, but if you need a lot of plants, they are will worth waiting for.

It really pays to read the instructions carefully though. You may be waiting in vain for plants to come up if you ignore the guidelines on the back of the seed package.

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Echinacea grown from seed

For instance, not all seeds like to be covered with soil. Some need sunlight to germinate and should only be pressed into the soil a little and kept moist. These include:

  • Coleus
  • Begonias
  • Geraniums
  • Impatiens
  • Columbine
  • Petunias
  • Snapdragons
  • Lettuce
  • Poppies

It’s fun to plan and plant.

It’s even more fun when the plants actually come up.

 

Plan Your Garden On Paper – Garden Planning Made Easy

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Raised garden beds in winter

During the winter months is a really good time to take stock of your yard to see what changes you might like to make. It doesn’t hurt to think big. If you have a plan, say for a patio to be built in a certain area, then you can begin to plant the right plants (the right height etc.) in the right place. We had to do that. We staked off where the deck would eventually go, and planted a row of peonies along that line. Behind the peonies we planted some tall shrub roses, and other things, but these plants had time to grow before the deck was built 2 years later.

If you have a bird’s eye view of your property, being able to see the house, yard, driveway, walkways, deck, patio etc., it is much easier to decide where you can have flower beds or fruit trees or raised beds for vegetables.

 

You can create the bird’s eye view with a simple drawing.

Using graph paper makes it a little easier and probably more accurate, but you don’t even have to do that. Try to get the

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Designing a Garden (Green is Planting Areas)

house, garage drive etc. somewhat in perspective. I used a poster board with graph line on it. You can determine how much each square represents, 6″, 1′, 5′ etc. It just depends on the size of our property. I do an outline in pencil but when I’m pretty sure of the measurements, colored pencils help to make it all a little clearer.

Winter is a great time to scour magazines and catalogs (and garden blogs) for ideas of what kinds of plants to use. It’s important to find out the needs of plants you like and want to use. Do they need full sun? Do they like to be dry or moist? How tall will they get and will they shade neighboring plants?  I make lists of the ones that appeal to me, learn as much about them as I can, then try to figure out where in the yard I can use them.

In the first sketch, I just block in areas for “flower bed” and don’t try to plan where every plant will go.  Later, when I’m sure of the size of the bed, then I can start planning what plants to put in and how to place them.

Tall plants such as shrubs or hollyhocks should be place at the back of a border. It’s important to pay attention to where the sun will cast a shadow in the summer (which is different from the winter) so that tall plants won’t shade plants that are sun lovers.

Medium plants should be planted in front of the taller plants with low growing plants placed in front of the medium ones.

Decide on a color scheme for your garden.

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Japanese Anemone and Limelight Hydrangea

Do you like warm, hot colors like yellow, red and orange? Then choose plants that will mix these colors throughout your garden. Maybe you like the cooler colors such as blue, pink, lavender and white. Another way to use color is to use complimentary colors, colors opposite each other on the color wheel, like yellow and purple, or blue and orange. Some like to use just one color, all blue or all red, even all white. A garden with a color scheme in mind is much more pleasing than a hodge-podge of color all jumbled up. Also, plant in groupings of color, instead of scrambled all together for a more effective look. But ultimately, it’s your garden, so you get to plant what you like, where you like.

Just one more thought on the subject…

Every plant doesn’t have to bloom. A garden with foliage in a variety of textures and shades of greens and other colors, is beautiful as is, even without flowers.

 

Finding a place for everything.

It’s good to list the things you’d really like to have in your yard. We did that when we bought our home 3 years ago. Even though our property is only 1/4 acre, our list was long. The property already had the house, a garage, a potting shed, a wide driveway and sidewalks around the property on 2 sides (it’s a corner lot). We wanted a deck, a large grape arbor, raised beds for growing vegetables, an asparagus bed, fruit trees and a berry patch. All of this plus as many flower beds as we could squeeze in.

Because we drew it all out, we were able to fit everything in. We had to move things around (on paper) to make it work, but we were able to settled on a plan. By doing that, we knew what plants we were in the market for, and we knew approximately where they would go.

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Grape vines on grape arbor with beebalm below.

We were able to have a 50′ x 10′ grape arbor (planted with 2 kiwi vines and 11 grape vines), a large deck (33′ x 16′), 4 raised beds (16′ x 4′ each) for vegetables, 20 assorted fruit trees placed throughout the yard, an asparagus bed (8′ x 5′), a berry patch with raspberries (20′ x 4′) and a berry patch with strawberries and blackberries (12′ x 6′). There are flower beds, large and small, tucked everywhere else. It wouldn’t have been possible to include all we wanted to have without a plan.

Have some fun this winter. Plan a garden.

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Pathway between deck and raised vegetable beds.

 

 

 

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Deck out back door, potted plum tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Star Peaches on Tree in September

Our Garden Gate
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