Cottage Garden from Scratch!

springladyApril 23, 2014

This weekend I'm having all of the grass dug up in my small backyard and I'll be starting a cottage garden from scratch! I'll have a stone walk from the deck to the back gate, and I'm keeping a crepe myrtle against the back fence, and two vitex along the right side fence, and some knockout roses along the deck on the right side. I'll have about 3' x 12' on the left of the walk and 4' x 12' feet on the right of the walk to play with.

My question is, what are good reliable perennials for zone 8b? Most of the area will get afternoon sun.

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That's a tall order but here goes...

I can only speak from my own experience in a colder zone but hopefully this will at least get you started. They've all been reliable performers in my garden beds for quite a few years. Most (not all) were planted to sustain pollinators.

Euphorbia polychroma/cushion spurge
Perovskia atroplicifolia/Russian sage
Gaura lindheimeri/wandflower
Echinacea purpurea/coneflower
Stachys byzantina/lamb's ear 'Helen Von Stein'
Geranium macrorrhizum/cranesbill 'Rozanne'
Nepeta x faassenii/catmint 'Walkers Low'
Persicaria virginiana/Virginia knotweed 'Painters Palette'
Agastache rupestris/sunset hyssop
Baptisia australis/false indigo
Stokesia/Stoke's aster
Chelone obliqua/turtlehead
Heuchera/coral bells

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:29PM
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Sounds like a wonderful project, and it's nice that you have a good start with some shrubs for the bones.

Can you add a bit more than your zone? If you are in Georgia or the Carolinas you will have different soils and moisture/rainfall than if you are in the Southwest or the Northwest, all of which include zone 8. The additional information may help get useful suggestions. Is your area hot and humid, hot and dry, etc. and is your soil sandy, clayey, etc. and do you get regular rain year-round or seasonally or is drought common? Is your soil pH acidic or alkaline?

Although I am enough farther north that many of my plants will be different, here are a few things to consider:
- Spring bulbs of all types (plant in fall, but keep them in mind now, and plan to put them where emerging perennials will hide their dying foliage) Be sure you get ones with chill requirements for your area.
- Mulch will be your friend for the first year or two to keep weeds from getting established and to help keep moisture even while your new plants grow. With any new bed, I put down several layers of wet newspaper or a layer of corrugated cardboard and cover that with mulch. It will rot in the first season or two, and depending on how closely you planted, may or may not need renewing. I put it down as soon as the bed is prepared and then just push it aside for planting, ripping the damp cardboard where needed.
- Clematis and other vines on trellises or obelisks or growing into large shrubs can add a lot to a cottage garden.
- Foliage of varied size, shape, and color will help create interest when there aren't a lot of flowers. Bark such as your crepe myrtle will also add interest, so keep that in mind if you decide to add any other woody plants.
- Do you want any other hardscape or non-plant material such as a birdbath or some sculpture?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:33AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Other than getting the bones of your garden in first I'll leave it others to suggest which plants will do well for you. Just wanted to say creating a new garden is such fun and the sense of accomplishment you'll feel, there's nothing like it.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:19PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

I'm a similar zone and can vouch for the Russian sage, Walker's low catmint, Tickseed, and coneflowers.

Ur so lucky to have this new opportunity! !! Post progress pics!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 1:17AM
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Just a quick question...can you add an arch/arbor over the back gate? Maybe with a climbing rose or other vine?

Your path sounds lovely! Do you have any idea what you want to use along the edge? Maybe some small herbs or flowers?

Also, if you need to fill in some small areas to shade the weeds...alyssum works very well! All shades of lavender or just white and it has a great fragrance, too :)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:15PM
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