A cottage garden

One of my favourite type of gardens is a cottage style garden. I’m not one for formal gardens or native gardens…..i like the idea of having a messy  and unstructured cottage garden, and all those beautiful blooms! I dream of one day having a little country house where i can grow my own vege garden and a lovely cottage garden. Cottage gardens don’t look designed. In fact, they’re usually exuberant, free-flowering, and sometimes even unrestrained. To get the informal look, avoid planting in straight lines or defined patterns. Let plants cascade over paths and weave through each other. It adds to their charm. And grow self-seeding plants that pop up in unexpected places. Some of my favourite cottage garden plants are below. Foxgloves

Digitalis purpurea is a biennial, seeding freely when happy. Since it does not produce flowers (nor, therefore, seeds) until its second year, you must plant them two years running to have foxgloves every summer.
Seeds can lie dormant for years if conditions are unfavourable – if there is inadequate light or moisture. Typically, foxgloves are purpley pink and spotted inside their flower bells. Their colour varies subtly and colonies of pure white plants can occasionally be found in the wild. Most foxgloves thrive in light shade. Digitalis purpurea loves to be cool. Although foxgloves prefer lighter soils, they can survive on heavy clay with the addition of good compost to the top few inches of soil. The fibrous roots spread out vertically making vast mats to support the flower spikes, so mulch well to retain moisture. b155c2a6db0fd0fbf1cdfb7546c4d818

Wisteria Wisteria  are vigorous woody climbers with twining stems bearing pinnate leaves and long pendulous racemes of fragrant pea-like flowers in spring and early summer. Wisteria sinensis is a large deciduous climber with twining stems, dark green, pinnate leaves and drooping racemes to 30cm in length, of fragrant, mauve or lilac-coloured flowers opening before the leaves. It likes full sun to partial shade, sheltered position. They like moist and well drained soil. It can grow to a big as 12m high and 8m across. Wisteria does have quite a large and vigorous root system, so be sure not to plant to close to any pipes or pools. Can be grown informally through large tree or more formally against a house wall or trained as a free-standing half standard in a container.  Will grow in most soils that are moist but well-drained. PL2000005198_card2_lg Roses There are thousands of rose varieties out there, which can be quite confusing. My favourite is the Rosa floribunda ‘Iceberg’ and is definitely the easiest to grow. If you start looking at the hybrid tea roses, then yes you will have the larger more fragrant blooms but you will also end up with many more pests and diseases. The floribunda roses have smaller blooms and less fragrance but are a lot less maintenance than the hybrid tea roses. So i would choose a Rosa floribunda every time! Floribunda roses offer a bouquet on every branch. The small flowers look like elegant hybrid tea blooms but appear in clusters instead of one flower per stem. Floribundas combine hardiness, free flowering, and showy, usually fragrant blooms. Sizes of these hardy roses vary from compact and low-growing to a more open habit and heights of 1-2m, ideal for tall hedges. The foliage on floribunda roses tends to shrug off diseases, making for a low-maintenance plant that delivers maximum impact with its continuous bloom cycles. Most floribundas require very little spring pruning — just removal of dead or damaged wood. Nature-Flowers-Beautiful-Rose-Bush-In-The-Garden-067027- Lavender  Lavandula species are small aromatic evergreen shrubs with usually narrow, simple, entire, toothed or lobed leaves and small tubular flowers in dense spikes in summer. It likes full sun and well drained soil. Lavender can happily go with long periods of dry weather. Prefers a well-drained neutral to alkaline soil but tolerates acidic conditions. In heavy soil improve drainage as lavender does not tolerate waterlogging. Potash will encourage flowering but high nitrogen fertilisers and manure will result in ‘floppy’ plants. lavenders-on-rooftop2 Daisies  Argyranthemum are evergreen woody-based perennials or sub-shrubs, with simple or pinnately dissected leaves and white, yellow or pink, daisy-like flower-heads from late spring to autumn. They like full sun with a moist, well drained soil. Grow in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Deadhead regularly to prolong flowering and pinch growing tips to keep compact. Best used as a summer bedding plant. Mulching helps to conserve water. Water in prolonged dry spells. Deadhead regularly as well. SONY DSC Delphiniums  Grow in a fertile, well-drained soil in full sun; shelter from strong winds and stake well. Apply a balanced liquid every couple of weeks in the growing season. For best flower spikes thin shoots when 7cm high to leave a minimum of 2-3 shoots on young plants and 5-7 shoots on established plants. Pruning- Deadhead by cutting spent flower spikes back to small flowering side shoots. Cut down all growth to ground level after it has withered in autumn. Pests- Prone to slugs, snails, leaf miners and caterpillars delphiniums-at-wisley

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Lavender

Lavenders come in a surprising array of colours, forms and fragrances. Their hardiness varies according to their type, from full hardy angustifolias and frost hardy stoechas. All Lavenders originate from warm, dry, Meditteranean type climates. They demand full sun and moderately fertile, well drained soil. Well accustomed to drought, they can serve the gardener well in times of water shortage.

Lavenders can be grown as low flowering hedges or planted in beds and borders.

Angustifolias known as English Lavenders are famous for their heavy, sweet fragrance. Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’sports elegant, lance shaped flower spikes with whorls of flowers encircling the stem. It flowers throughout Summer in shades of deep purple. Like most angustifolias, ‘Hidcote’ is fully hardy with a compact round habit up to 50cm high.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

For a brighter, bolder flower, try distinctive ‘Beechwood Blue’ or ‘Munstead’.

Another classic is Lavandula stoechas or Spanish Lavender. Lower growing than all other species of Lavender. It has fine greyish, green leaves. ‘Kew Red’ is a stunning variety with dark pink and white flowers, which grows very well in pots.

Lastly, there is Lavandula dentata or French Lavender. I dont find this species as attractive as the angustifolias, as it tends to splay along the ground rather than keeping a nice compact shape. This species is rarely without flowers though. If you do like this particular species then ‘Monet’ is a nice compact dwarf variety.

‘Ploughmans Blue’ is a smaller growing plant of bushy to spreading habit with semi-open, grey green foliage. Leaves are darker green and broader than many other cultivars.

TIPS

1. All Lavenders demand a sunny site- Plant in well drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Intermedia and stoechas types can stand a slightly acid soil.

2. Space according to size  and    planting style but, generally, group informal planting in threes, 45-90cm apart and space lavenders for hedging at 60cm using all one variety for greatest impact.

3. Give them one hard prune- immediately after flowering. Don’t prune back to the old wood, but enough to keep a nice shape.

Lavandula stoechas

Lavandula stoechas

Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’