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Mike C's Blog (4)


By MikeC


Hello everyone… For years I have always admired English cottage gardens. When I started my garden I had this vision in mind. My garden is pretty well established now and I think that I have achieved the look with plants shoulder to shoulder and grass pathways but now as I look at my photos I feel that it needs some fine tuning. What seems to be lacking are tall plants with tall spires that gently sawy in the breeze. I’ve been doing some research on traditional plants found in English cottage gardens and after doing so I’ve come to the conclusion that I will need to call my garden an American cottage garden. The main reason being climate. Many of the plants grown in the UK don’t do well here. A good example of that is Delphinium. I have made a list of plants that I think would work to give me the look providing that I repeated them throughout my flower beds so that they would unify my garden. The plants that I’ve chosen are a combination of perennials and self seeding annuals. The self seeding annuals would mean that I would have to put off weeding my garden until latter in the season and it would be a lot of sifting through the weeds but I think that it would be worth the work. Here is a list of the plants that I am considering.

Bachelor’s Buttons
Geranium ( magnificum )
Lady’s Mantel
Verbena ( bonariensis )

I would be very interested to know what your thoughts are and if you think that I am heading in the right direction.

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interesting that you mentioned Delphiniums as not doing well, I thought it was something I did, at first. but came to realize how much delphiniums like cool temperatures.
The delphs in my garden did well the past spring...better than in past years when we had mild I anticipate that they will do better in the coming season because of this long wet winter. The best delphs I ever grew were at 52 degrees north latitude...on the James Bay Coast. A friend took me down along the eroding banks of the mighty Moose River. (being on the Arctic watershed it flows north into James Bay, and ebbs and flows with the tides) Early in the last century, a Norwegian/English farmer had made his home and garden near the river. He planted delphiniums which are probably the specie, they are a lovely soft blue with no dark bees or doubles or any of the other features of later hybridizing. My friend had seen a clump of them literally hanging over the bank ready to fall into the water and be swept away with the next high tide. So we set off and salvaged clumps of delphiniums and ladies mantle. We had to push our way through scrub willow that takes over everycleared piece of ground available. Long Story Short... They bloomed that same summer, but only grew to about five and a half feet tall. I moved them into the shelter of the house, and the next season they topped an eight foot fence...sturdy, healthy, and glorious. Our move South was onerous, to say the least, so all I could bring was seed. It did germinate but the garden warmed quickly and they just quit...stopped...resigned...gave up.
They all died off and I was left feeling like I had dropped the ball. I bought the ones I have now from a nursery, but they can't compare...and they don't like the quickly warming season either. That's my story about delphs, you might have better luck with the Larkspur...I just bought a pack of seeds for Larkspur..we must compare notes.

2 Mar, 2008


It's me again...bad penny.

you have foxglove on your list... I've struggled with that too. and this is what I learned... They don't mind dappled/partial shade, in fact they prefer it. They are a wild flower, and a woodland flower. they like loamy soil and will self seed themselves effectively once they are established...there's the but...getting them happy is not least it wasn't for me...but the soil/site combination seems to be the key. checked my books, it does well on any soil except very limey soil, likes partial shade, and is hardy to -25 C.

2 Mar, 2008


Getting them happy? I only wish I could be rid of them! As the saying goes..."One man's meat is....etc."

3 Mar, 2008


David, Have the Foxglove established themselves so well and spread to the point that they are a nuisance ?

3 Mar, 2008


I think all the plants you've mentioned will look lovely and I for one would certainly consider them to be quite appropriate for an 'English country garden' theme. I'm sure you've considered these, and I'm not sure how they will do in your climate but when I think 'English country garden' I also think of hollyhocks and aquilega, sweetpeas and roses, preferably the old-fashioned varieties that have a wonderful scent!

3 Mar, 2008



3 Mar, 2008


Aquilega (Granny's bonnets) are the ones for me, they self seed and come in some fantastic colours. Like Lindsay mentions hollyhocks and sweet peas. I have these and I have also added some delphiniums this year to my garden. Good luck with the fox glove's.

3 Mar, 2008


Thank you all for your thoughts and help. I already have some of the plants that you have suggested, Sweetpeas ( white ) A few Hollyhocks and Evening Primrose. I have Evening Primrose in a couple areas of my garden and just posted a photo of some. I have seen them come in pink. Does anyone know if the yellow will remain yellow and the pink, pink if I were to mix them together. I love Cosmos and am planning on starting seeds very soon. I'm not familiar with Aquilega and will do a google search on them so that I can see what they look like. I'm all set on roses as i have quite a few and many are climbers. I like them as they give height to my garden.

3 Mar, 2008


I assume that you have some grasses too? They go really well with Verbena Bonariensis. I would add Heleniums, Coreopsis and Penstemons. You can increase your stock of these (Penstemons) with cuttings. Verbenas root easily, too. I don't think that your Evening Primroses will get too familiar with each other, Mike, they should stay the right colour. I love Salvias and they do really well in hot/dry borders. Asters, too, that we call 'Michaelmas Daisies' - can you grow them? Also different species of Veronicas - 'Crater Blue' and the longifolia ones look great in the borders. Verbascums? Is your mind boggling yet - I'll stop.

5 Mar, 2008


Hello Spritz, I don't have any perennial grasses in my garden but last summer I had two annual Purple Fountain Grasses and I really liked them so they were my introduction. I would like to add some and will check with a local nursery to see which ones are hardy to the climate here. Glad to hear that you think that the yellow and pink Evening Primrose will keep their colors if mixed togehter. I have always liked pink and yellow flowers together. I have a different species of Veronicas and they do very well here and so do Asters. I hadn't thought about salvias and will add them to my wish list :)

6 Mar, 2008


I love them - I did a blog some time ago when they were in flower - if you are interested, check it out from my page. I'd love to know if you can get the same species across the pond.

6 Mar, 2008


I think the common name for Aquilegia is Columbine...

20 Mar, 2008

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