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Archive for June, 2020

English Cottage Garden Flowers

Cottage Garden Series: Cottage Garden Plants – Annuals

Picking and Planting Annuals in Your Cottage Garden

Continuing this series on the Cottage Garden, and this post on annuals follows Perennials for the Cottage Garden, and Just What is a Cottage Garden? Annuals provide beauty, texture and amazing color to the cottage garden layout, and there are sooooo many to choose from. Here are some of our favorites, with a list to follow:

Foxglove English Cottage Garden Annual
Foxglove is a great addition to any cottage garden planting design

Foxglove

There are very few flowers that provide such great vertical interest and color as the Foxglove. With its colorful, spotted spikes, and glorious bell shaped flowers, it will provide a great backdrop to any cottage garden planting scheme..

Foxglove in the English Cottage Garden
Snapdragons add beautiful color to the cottage garden.

Snapdragon

A great planting companion with the Foxglove, the Snapdragon is also a vertical interest plant, and provides a great layered effect when planted around the foxglove or delphinium. In such a large array of colors, you cant help but find one or many you love.

Delphinium

These plants are cottage garden mainstays, towering at the back of the border in your choice of shades of blue, pink or white. You will need to stake them before they get too tall, and protect them from slugs and snails early in the season. They will add to your cut flower bouquets and provide great beauty.

Zinnia

These fast blooming, heat loving plants will give your cottage design color, foliage and consistent blooms throughout the summer months. These heat lovers will continue to provide flowers as long as you dead head, and come in amazing colors palettes and sizes to bring a smile to any gardeners face.

Here is a big list of annuals and perennials you can add to your cottage garden for enjoyment:

  • Hydrangea
  • Astilbe
  • Cosmos
  • Bee Balm
  • Gazania
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Coneflower
  • Coral Bells
  • Roses (both traditional and climbing roses)
  • Violets
  • Clematis
  • Wisteria
  • Coreopsis
  • Lavender
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Columbine
  • Phlox
  • Calendula
cottage garden plants

Cottage Garden Series: Cottage Garden Plants – Perennials

What to Perennials Plant in Your Cottage Garden.

This is the second post in a series on Cottage Gardens, mostly focused on the English Cottage Garden style. If you haven’t read the first post, Just What is a Cottage Garden?, take a minute to read about the definition of a cottage garden, and basic design principles for making your own. The cottage garden requires a mix of plants, and we will start with perennials. With those design principles in mind, here is a listing of 5 great plants to start your own English cottage planting.

Lavender plants for the cottage garden
Lavender is one of the staples of Cottage Garden design

Lavender

Oh, the sweet smell of lavender in the cottage garden! This beautiful plant is the perfect companion for any cottage garden design. It provides a great visual foundation with its beautiful color, and if you choose the right variety, the long spikes and grey green foliage will add depth and honey bees to your landscape. Varieties: Provence, Grosso, Hidcote.

Peonies as a plant for cottage gardens
Peonies add beauty to the planting area of your Cottage

Peonies

The beautiful peony can provide multiple elements to your cottage garden layout, and with its beautiful blooms and hardy foliage, can provide great depth and dimension, as well as an amazing scent. White, red or pink, the beautiful, full blooms can be a staple for your english cottage garden.

Hydrangea is a staple for the cottage garden planting scheme
Hydrangea provides wonderful foliage and texture in the Cottage Planting Design

Hydrangea

Ok, I have to say hydrangeas are our favorite flower. And what cottage garden would be complete without these stunners. Pinks, whites, and blues can provide some pop, and amazing texture to the landscape. Their foliage is a beautiful addition from a dimensional perspective, and overtime they fill a great space, and in our opinion is the best shrub for your cottage palette.

Roses

Soft colored roses can be a main staple in your cottage plant list. You can also add a climber or two to provide height and give you an excuse for a trellis or other vertical feature. Colors like peach, salmon and white can give a soft, beautiful addition to the garden planting, and be an anchor that provides beauty year round.

Boxwood

What traditional english garden would be complete without boxwood. It is more likely associated with formal gardening in the UK, but used sparingly, it can be an anchor point in the cottage garden, if left to freely grown, and can provide you a palette for shaping.

A short list, but a starter for your new cottage garden, or spicing up and old one.

Cottage Garden Design Ideas

Just What is the Cottage Garden?

Defining Cottage Garden Style

When we built our new enclosed garden, I started doing some research on the Cottage Garden Design style, and what that really meant. There’s the traditional English Cottage Garden, the Americanized Cottage Garden, the hybrid cottage garden. What are the true fundamentals of the cottage garden design style? Here is a quick definition, the best I found:

The cottage garden is a distinct style that uses informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. The earliest cottage gardens were more practical than today’s, with emphasis on vegetables and herbs, fruit trees, perhaps a beehive, and even livestock. (Wikipedia)

The original cottage gardens were built by British laborers who had little time for maintenance, but needed a space to help feed the family, grow herbs for medicine, and flowers to bring birds and helping insects nearby.

As time went on, the British nobility began to idealize the cottage life, and the concept of the cottage garden was expanded, and the beauty of flowers became a focus in cottage garden design.

So, in researching, here are some key elements and design principles for making a cottage garden.

  1. Pinks, Purples and Whites – for most cottage gardens, its all about the color palette, and creating a sense of romance and whimsy.
  2. Scents are Key – tied to the visual romance, is one of glorious scents: lavenders, peonies, roses and the like.
  3. Creating enclosed spaces – the typical cottage garden is enclosed by a picket fence, with climbers weaving through the pickets.
  4. Creating other spaces – within the garden, there should be small themes here and there, concentrations of colors, heights and shapes.
  5. Use informal crowding – the typical cottage garden is tight and compact, almost overflowing with flowers and foliage.
  6. A mix of pathways – the garden should almost feel as you can wander through its curving pathways for hours. Informal edges should allow creeping plants to encroach on the stroll.
  7. Mixing colors – sticking with a single palette is taboo, and there should be a sense of disorganized chaos in both color and texture of plant.
  8. Intriguing elements – a mix of statues, design, birdhouses, fountains, benches, etc. should be placed throughout.
  9. There are no rules – the best part is just go for it, and put your ideas into your design. If you don’t like it, change it 🙂

More to come, as this is one of our favorite topics.

when to prune lavender

When to Prune Lavender

When to Cutback and Trim Lavender Plants

One of the most common questions we hear is “When do you prune or cut back lavender?” Here is a quick outline of what you need to know for pruning/cutting back lavender successfully. While lavender is a hardy, strong plant in the right growing conditions, it does need special attention when it comes to pruning, and cutting back properly is the key to a healthy lavender plant that will last many seasons. And just so you know, correctly pruning lavender plants will help yield more flowers and a healthier, stronger plant.  

If you read any garden book, lavender is known as a semi-shrub. Understanding this concept forms the foundation for proper lavender pruning. A semi-shrub is a plant that grows like a perennial, producing green growth  year after year. The older parts of stems on a semi-shrub start turning woody after a few growing years. On any lavender variety, you’ll find that deep down inside the mound of grey-green leaves, stem bases are woody with almost a “barky” texture.  

Those woody stems are are any area you don’t want to see. That wood is lacking strength, not strong like a tree’s trunk, and when winter brings snow or ice, or the plants are watered overhead, the woody stems are more likely crack and break. If you prune back to hard, the Lavender’s woody stems won’t produce new green growth.  As the stem shifts to wood, your plant loses its ability to produce new green lavender shoots, which are the ones that flower and produce those lovely blooms. While pruning lavender, if you cut into woody stems and back too far, they won’t grow again, but will simply die. 

When you prune your lavender, you’re aiming to slow down the plant’s progress toward forming woody stems, and keep it at an early growth stage, young and vigorous. As a rule of thumb, you need to plan on pruning lavender at planting time and every year right after it blooms. When you are planting lavender, prune plants lightly, removing all growing tips and flowers. This encourages the plant to branch, and grow. Use this same lavender pruning technique every year as new growth starts to appear.  

Trimming, pruning and cutting lavender
Trimming lavender properly with give you great growth and blooms.

Pruning lavender after flowering is ideal, but if you miss the window, it is a forgiving plant. You can plan your lavender pruning when it works for you, as long as you complete it by early spring when the temperatures begin to rise. Lavender flowers on the new growth that appears each year, so if you prune before new growth really starts lengthening, you won’t interfere with blossom formation and the normal growth cycle.  

Pruning lavender in spring is always sometimes necessary in colder regions to remove stems that suffer winter damage to stems. Pruning lavender at the end of the growing season, in late summer to fall, can help open the plant’s interior to allow good air circulation.  Also removes some of the branches, which can ultimately help prevent winter damage. Ideally, pruning lavender twice per year in spring and fall is optimal, if you can squeeze that into your gardening plan.

When you’re pruning lavender plants that are established and hardy, remove at least 1/3 of all growth when cutting back. With older plants, you can cut back three leaf pairs above the woody stem area. Don’t cut into the woody area, as mentioned because the buds on those stems won’t sprout.

Now get out there and prune your lavender!!

Father's Day Gifts for the Men Gardener

Best Gardening Gifts for Dad

Choosing the Father’s Day Garden Gift

If Dad spends his time in the garden, then there is no better way to put a smile on his face than to give him a Father’s Day Gardening Gift. Here is a quick list of gardening gifts for men that any father would love:

The Hori Hori Garden Knife – nothing screams Dad more than a large blade at the hip. No really, this garden tool is amazing, and is the “Swiss Army Knife” of garden tools. You can cut, saw, dig, plant, weed and measure, and these are just a few of the chores it can perform with little skill. This is one of the most popular items in our store on a consistent basis, and gets fantastic reviews. Highly recommended. Buy Our Hori Hori.

The Dibber – okay, not as cool as the Hori Hori, but if your Dad appreciates woodwork, then this is your gift. These are handmade tools that can be handed down to family. These heirloom seed planting tools are a must for any gardening purist. They have been used for centuries to create holes for seeds and bulbs, and these tools area a must for any father that plants consistently. See Our Seed and Bulb Dibblers

A Quality Garden Tool Set – an awesome Father’s Day Gift for any Dad, you have to ask yourself: Isn’t it time Dad had a nice set of garden tools? We recommend a wood and stainless set that will resist the elements and provide a pleasurable gardening experience for any father. Celtic’s Garden Tool Set

Quality Garden Shears – If Dad likes his garden neat, then a quality pair of garden shears are a great gift. Having lightweight, strong and sharp shears are key to plant health, and ease of use. Our Quality Garden Shear

Copper Garden Markers – ok, what is cooler than copper markers to keep track of what you plant and grow. Make sure you buy 10″, with galvanized metal stakes to make sure they last and resist rust. See our Copper Garden Markers

Garden Kneeler – if old pops has bad knees, or kneels for long periods out in the garden, then this is a great tool. I use mine for gardening, household chores, working on the tractor, and any time I need to kneel out on the farm.

You can buy any of these in our garden shop. See our Father’s Day Gardening Gifts.

Father’s Day Gardening Gifts

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