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The Quintessential Cottage Garden

Updated: Mar 21

As we head towards the summer solstice I like to spend days in the garden planning future planting schemes and researching colour for Cat's Punky Stuff. After last year's heavy landscaping there have been a few surprises where I had forgotten what I had planted and the birds have been busy sowing all sorts. I work like crazy all year so that I can have June and July off.

The quintessential English cottage garden is steeped in grace and charm, mixing edible with decorative planting and whilst viewed with chaos, they are actually well ordered. I allow my garden to do as it wishes, I am just the 'caretaker' taking care of weeding, deadheading and feeding. Whilst I do like to colour theme my beds I believe the birdies also approve as their sowings always come out in the right colour. On occasion I may move something that I've not planted. On the left are cerise Snapdragons with Sweet

Williams and an old red rose. Thank you birdies! Last Autumn I didn't cut back at the end of summer allowing all the seeds to be eaten by the birds. They then poop out what they have eaten and I get loads of Snapdragons amidst the self sown Sweet Williams. Birdies also like Aquilegia as they are popping up everywhere too!

I collected lots of seed last year, maybe £300 worth if shop bought, and so I have got really dense planting which is another cottage garden feature. On the right is Linaria, Nigella, Phlox and Harebells all in pastel shades. By planting Linaria in small terracotta pots I could fill in gaps along the front of beds. I like to have steep sides to my flower beds so you have the sensation of enclosure, especially when you're sitting down. By the end of Summer much of my garden is over 6ft tall creating a real jungle feel of isolation and
remoteness. My sunflowers were the tallest I have ever grown at over 15 feet in all colours from white, all the yellows and oranges, burgundy, plum and chocolate.

Roses are an essential feature of a cottage garden and I have some of the most beautiful

roses acquired by a variety of means. The cottage we have lived in for eight years already had some mature bushes and since we bought the cottage over the years I've added many specialist roses. I was also given a load of bushes that my landscaper friend had pulled out and was going to dump. This red rose has black outer petals and buds but it hadn't transplanted very well. With monthly feeds of homemade chicken poop liquid fertilizer and with regular bi-carbonate of soda sprayings this rose has produced several buds this year, simply stunning.

It was very hot yesterday and sat out surrounded by highly perfumed roses and a warm breeze to break the stifling heat was quite wonderful, making all the hard work worthwhile. Wafts of sweet pea and carnation caught the odd gust of wind for variety

and the ever changing cocktail of scent continued to vary throughout the day. It really did smell and look like a traditional English cottage garden. There were so many bees and butterflies busying about their day collecting pollen and the baby birds haphazardly flying about, some still wearing their baby clothes demanding to be fed from anyone who would oblige. Baby sparrows are the funniest as we have seen them asking other babies to feed them! I do curse the birds sometimes as the pigeons are glutenous feeders and
the starlings with their many babies come en
masse causing plant damages with no spatial awareness what so ever!

My garden is 100% organic and once the balance of wildlife was perfected it actually became really low maintenance. My essential organic garden tools are seen here on the left (ignore the lemons!), with the addition of broken egg shells to protect against slugs. Tea and bi carb are brilliant for keeping bugs away without hurting the bees or butterflies. The brush is used to keep roses bug free but I very rarely have to use it, so long as I regularly bi carb spray, especially after it has rained. I also use garlic to keep cats off my

flower beds and a chilli pepper soak around the chicken run to prevent rats visiting!

Whilst enjoying all the summer wildlife that visits the garden it may seem strange but I have started designing the new ranges for Christmas. They will need to be shop ready by September and so I am having some luscious wool hats made by a local lady and I will add beautifully coloured hanging pom poms in clusters. There will be new Christmas pudding pom pom decoration in a variety of themes. Vintage puds will have a jute twine hanging thread with an antique bronze coloured jingle bell, rainbow puds
will have pastel coloured pudding icing
with a traditional gold bell, and finally the traditional puds will have Mulberry paper holly leaves and a small red jingle bell berry!

I will also have to re-stock on the little robins as they have been really popular from the very start. So, as we head to the peak of summer I will be decorating making robins! If it is nice this will all happen outside as I watch the garden grow, so lets hope for a great summer!

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