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How to plant a cottage garden?

(40 Posts)
Flatbread Mon 28-Jan-13 19:28:00

Have any of you created a country/cottage garden?

How long did it take for the garden to bloom? How much work was it? How much did it cost per sq m?

We want to create a country garden facing West and a rock garden on a steep slope on the South side.

At the moment we spend summer fighting the brambles and cutting the grass that grows tall overnight. I guess the rocky soil is very fertile, so want to put it to better use. And want some kind of silvery/colourful groundcover that smothers the brambles and is low maintenance.

Have no idea how to start...any tips? Thanks!

thegriffon Tue 29-Jan-13 12:25:20

We cheated and got a garden designer after seeing local gardens she'd done. It cost £200 for design and planting plan, cost according to size and complexity of garden. IMHO well worth it to save making expensive mistakes, we knew the effect we wanted but had no idea how to put it all together

Flatbread Tue 29-Jan-13 12:55:16

Griffon, I wouldn't mind getting a designer for the rock garden, because I have no clue how to even start on that.

But we are in France, and it is a big, steep slope so am thinking we will be getting very expensive quotes without necessarily getting the kind of English/botanical garden type of rock garden we want

The cottage garden part is quite a self-contained west facing plot and I found some online border planting designs. So I can start with that smile

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Tue 29-Jan-13 21:53:56

I think the issue in France may be getting the plant material you want. In my experience of mooching around French garden centres (haven't been to French nurseries) they don't have the range of cottage garden plants that are available here. Whereabouts are you?

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 07:56:12

Hi Maud,

I am in Jersey. I was thinking of going to the local garden centre here and driving down with loads of plants.

Last time I bought bulbs from Sutton seeds and took then down. Less than half of them flowered, but I suspect my random scattering meant some of them went into the soil upside down blush

The weather in our place in France (south-west) is similar to UK in many ways, except a bit hotter in summer and drier. Ranges from 35 in summer to -5 in winter.

The local nurseries in France seem very expensive. For example, I can get 100 bedding plants for £20 here, but similar in France would cost three times as much!

Do you mix annuals and perennials in your garden or only stick with perennials?

I would like to have colour throughout the year, and it seems I would need some late flowering annuals to get that in the cottage garden.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 30-Jan-13 09:16:03

That sounds like a good plan. And, yes, French garden centres and florists always seem very expensive in comparison.

I don't bother much with annuals because I have had so many seed failures over the years. This year i'll be doing sunflowers, rudbeckia, cerinthe and some herbs, but that's about all. For me, what provides the year-round colour are bulbs and shrubs.

zcos Wed 30-Jan-13 10:01:17

I love the cottage garden theme been creating mine for 6 years ... its especially good if your time to maintain is limited. (or if like me your a little lazy too) as the plants just do all the work. I can't tell you how long it takes to create as I don't think mine will ever be finished something new is happening every year whether that is me making it happen or the plants doing it themselves! you can get lots of good perennials that you can keep dividing / that self seed/ spread. the size of your budget then dictates the size of the plants some medium size ones can establish better. there are lots of hardy species that can survive a little hot spell. You must get geraniums (not to be confused with pelagoniums) they are great ground cover too. and I must recommend some dicentra (bleeding heart, ladies in the bath). - that is fab about cottage garden plants all the old names!
don't forget your roses too!
I could go on forever but The best place to start that I can't recommend enough is cottage garden by Geoff Hamilton he did a series where he created a cottage garden from scratch on a plot ... you can get a copy second hand on amazon for a few pounds.
I would also like to recommend best plant catalogue I have found for mail order j parkers v reasonable and family run great bulbs.
good luck

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 12:02:16

Oh thank you so much. Off to order the book.

Am adding the plants/nurseries mentioned to my list. Thanks, this is very helpful.

Wee have loads of rose bushes (counted 41) when dh and I were last mulching. It is a pleasure but the amount of deheading required in summer!

I would like something, ahem, self-sustaining, as I am not around all the time and quite lazy as well!

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 12:08:56

Wow, just ordered the book second-hand for £2.81. Very pleased and looking forward to it smile

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 30-Jan-13 12:49:22

In that case, geraniums are your friend. They're almost indestructible and far less trouble than dicentra (lovely as it is). You might also like lilies, thalictrum, astrantia, heucheras (again, very reliable and available in many foliage colours) and alliums.

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 14:09:19

Great, thanks Maud.

Do you think these geraniums will be hardy?

This nursery is close to us and I can order these now (think I have do it by tomorrow to get the order in March)

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 30-Jan-13 14:17:08

Ah. We may be at cross-purposes. I'm talking about hardy geraniums such as Johnson's Blue. Pelargoniums like that one may get through the winter in a very sheltered spot - mine in wall pots generally do because escaping hear from the house stops them freezing - but they can't be relied upon. Do you gave a greenhouse or conservatory where they could overwinter?

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 14:26:50

Don't have a conservatory, and was hping to plant directly into the garden and just leave there.

Didn't know these were pelargoniums. Will look for Johnson's Blue. Thanks smile

I have so much to learn!

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 30-Jan-13 15:06:01

Pelargoniums will fare well in southern France - I'm just doubtful about them lasting beyond the autumn. Have a look too for agapanthus.

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 15:17:30

Oh they are beautiful. Love the blue flowers.

Maybe I should just focus on white, blue and purple flowers and some light pinks, and forget the bright reds.

I could then use heucheras to provide red/rust border leaves as a contrast to the pastel flowers.

Getting all excited now

<hides secret lust for vulgarly bright red and orange flowers>

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 30-Jan-13 17:09:26

If you like orange, consider sunflowers (v appropriate to the south of France) or tithonia (Mexican sunflower), which was one of my seed failures last year but (naturally) did marvellously in Monty Don's garden. Heleniums and rudbeckias are also very bright.

Flatbread Wed 30-Jan-13 20:48:40

Thanks Maud, great suggestions.

Gosh, you know a lot!

zcos Wed 30-Jan-13 23:47:48

if your going for cottage garden then big mixes of colour will lend authenticity... sounds like you have a much larger plot than Geoff converted - 41 rose bushes I am jealous ... would recomend having some sort of arch for some rambling rose - rambling rector you don't have to religiously dead head (get it) I think that is a little about the spirit of cottage gardens. hope you enjoy the book it was inspiring ... and a few pelagoniums are always nice in terracotta for the summer. but you must get geraniums look for hardy varieties lots to choose from.
I also agree with aliums very easy to grow from bulbs the massive globe trotter is very eye catching. I have not found dicentra to be that delicate mine are thriving in various degrees of light soil is fertile though.
let me know what you think of the book I found it very inspiring.

Flatbread Thu 31-Jan-13 09:22:19

Thanks zcos. Looking forward to some gardening porn with the book. And hopefully learn a lot as well smile

I have noted the plants that you, maud and others mentioned. It seems our local nursery does not have many of these. I looked at the RHS website as they seem the best stocked. But the plants are expensive!

Do you buy from RHS and if so, are they generally hardier than plants from cheaper nurseries?

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Thu 31-Jan-13 11:42:10

I try to buy my plants cheaply at fetes, open gardens and plant swaps but have sometimes bought things from the RHS. Quality is very good but prices can be steep. I think someone mentioned Parker's - their bulbs are excellent but I find their plants hit and miss.

CelineMcBean Thu 31-Jan-13 12:34:24

For low maintainance try salvias and mallows. Also lavender and rosemary should do well for filling gaps and they will spread.

Hollyhocks, lupins, pestamons(??) and red hot pokers add gorgeous bursts of colour and are biennials I think (I'm a total amateur!)

One of the advantages of a cottage garden is being able to mix fruit and vegetables in with your planting. I have rhubarb, blackcurrants and peas (grown up the old rose bush stems!) dotted about the place and i put tomatoes, peppers, beans, courgettes and aubergine plants in about April/May but these need watering and staking. Basil, parsley and salad leaves do well in pots and can be moved around the garden and taken in in the autumn.

I also like veronica and campanula. Campanulas are excellent for ground cover.

Flatbread Thu 31-Jan-13 19:20:26

Great idea to mix veggies in my cottage garden! Thanks for the additional plant suggestions, adding them in my notebook.

Will keep a look out for open gardens for plants and also order some bulbs from Parkers.

Thanks everyone, this is so helpful smile

funnyperson Fri 01-Feb-13 02:55:37

41 roses!
Its nice to have something all year round: So spring could be snowdrops, hellebores, japonica, primroses, wallflowers, tulips and forgetmenots then summer could be
roses, clematis, geranium johnsons blue, nepeta, Lavender, Rosemary and thyme are lovely and low maintenance will also do well in France. Lilies and Alliums are good bulbs and lovely flowers. Aquilegias are great annuals which self seed.
Autumn would be your raspberries, courgettes, tomatoes, spinach, hydrangea, japanese anemones, michelmas daisies,
Then you could put in something mega like a tree peony just for fun.
Some fruit trees are nice.

If in France, Monets garden is very pleasant to visit for inspiration.

funnyperson Fri 01-Feb-13 02:58:03

Its easy to get a dotted effect so its good to order plants in multiples. Do post pictures.

Flatbread Fri 01-Feb-13 08:29:58

Thanks, funny. It is very helpful to get a breakdown of flowering by season. I hope one day all this will seem second-nature, but at the moment is a huge learning curve!

The rosebushes are scattered all over the property, although I don't think there are any in the spot we want to create a cottage garden. There is 400 sq mt terraced plot on the west of the house which is perfect for a cottage garden. It is enclosed within stone walls and has an old well, a cherry tree and a plum tree. Along with clumpy grass, weeds and ugly brambles.

A couple of winters back, I dug a trench around the stone walls and put in plastic sheets on the ground to contain the brambles around the walls, as these are the hardest to clear. I think it it ready now for creating a garden.

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