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


What to do in the garden this month- July

I am back from my Summer holidays and feeling quite exhausted! Doesn’t it always happen that way? I will be posting photos from Spain and Germany next week once i have been through my thousands of photos.

For now, here are some tips on what to do in the garden this month.

Southern Hemisphere 

1. As bulb shoots develop, feed with one of the new Thrive Liquids such as Thrive Roses & Flowers. It’s high in potassium so will strengthen the stems of floppy bulbs, as well as enhancing their flowering. Do the same for spring flowering annuals to help them develop a strong framework before they start to bloom.

2. July is rose pruning month, except in cold climates where it’s better to wait until just before the last frost is expected.

3. Check camellias for signs of leaf-spoiling sap suckers such as thrips and tea mite. Prune camellias (if required) after flowering, feed with Dynamic Lifter Plus Flower Food.

4. Dianthus is a carnation relative that develops a succession of cheery, fragrant blooms.



Northern Hemisphere 

1. Prune back the tangled new growth of wisteria, by shortening the current season’s stems to five or six leaves from their base. This allows light and air into the climber and enhances flowering.

2. Clip box hedging and topiary at the end of this month, which should keep them neat and tidy over the winter.

3. Birds love ripened soft fruit as much as we do and are up earlier to enjoy the crop first. To ensure fruit is reserved for you, cover the plants with netting before ripening is complete.

4. Give container plants a liquid feed throughout July to keep them looking good.

5. In what is known as the “June drop”, fruit trees undergo a natural thinning process when fruit they are unable to support falls from the tree. Additional thinning is often required for the remaining fruit to attain optimum size and quality. This should be carried out by mid-July. Thinning has other benefits:

Sunlight and air can circulate more easily, which helps fruit to ripen evenly and reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

6. Camellias set their buds around this time of year, and one reason for plants not flowering is dryness at the roots when the buds are being set. This is a particular problem for container plants, so ensure that potted camellias are watered regularly, especially during hot dry spells

Newly planted trees also benefit from regular watering during dry spells.

Branches can break if trees over-crop – a particular hazard for plums. An overly large crop can exhaust the tree’s resources, so thinning helps it to develop a manageable quantity of fruit.

When young trees crop too heavily, energy is diverted from developing a strong framework of branches and roots. This makes them less able to produce large crops in subsequent years.

Apples: To ensure the largest fruit, thin cooking apples hard; dessert apples more lightly. For both types leave just one fruit per cluster; choosing the strongest and best-shaped.

Apricots: Thin only if the crop is excessively heavy.

Plums are particularly prone to over-cropping, so thinning is vital.

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