Want to help me plan a garden?

fourambluesSeptember 3, 2013

Hello, I'm new to this forum, though I've spent an obscene amount of time on the kitchen forum over the last couple of years. Still not quite finished with that project!

This summer DH and I have been trying to improve our yard. He built a new shed so that our yard equipment/tools will be easy to access, and we hope we'll use them more often. (BTW, the shed will be painted a khaki brown, and the trim will stay white.)

Next to the shed will be a series of mostly raised beds. The tiered section in the front is 12'x4', and perpendicular to that is a 4'x18' section. It's all pretty much full sun. I'm a somewhat lazy gardener in zone 6b.

I love the look of a cottage garden, though I'm not sure of the definition. (Does it have to involve reseeders?) I'd love to have lavender and daisies in this garden, as well as a small evergreen or two (frost proof gardenia??) to hide the area below, where the trash/recycling/compost will be kept.

Does anyone have suggestions on plants for this garden, to give it a nice informal look, with variety in texture, height and shape? It would be wonderful if the garden had three seasons of color.

Thanks in advance!

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What a good looking shed you have there, tidy and sturdy. It can be a focal point to center the garden. I am crazy about roses, so I would start by training a climbing rose up a trellis at one end of it.

As for reseeders, you do not have to include them unless you want to. Think about your personality. I thought I wanted them but it turns out they irritate me beyond description, always popping up where I don't want them at all. But I did not know that until I tried them. It seems that I want abundance with structure, not wild abandon.

Evergreens to hide your utility area sound like a good idea to me. If you are thinking about dwarf conifers you might want to check out the conifer forum. There are some very knowledgeable people there. As for gardenias, I didn't know that there were any frost proof ones; there may be. Rhododendrons could give you a similar effect and laugh off the cold. Lavenders are mostly tender, too, though the English lavenders can tolerate more cold than other types. Those might work for you.

Here are some flowers I associate with cottage gardens.

Roses (first, of course, and old-fashioned ones rather than modern hybrid teas)
Delphiniums (need lots of compost)
Hardy geraniums (also called cranesbill geraniums, not the same as the pelargoniums most people call geraniums)
Phlox (get mildew-resistant ones)
Dianthus (one kind is even called 'cottage pinks')
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' (easy and great for late season color)
Salvias (especially S. nemorosa and S. sylvestris varieties)
Bellflowers (campanula)
Coral bells (heuchera)

Have fun, and be sure to take lots of pictures along the way.


Here is a link that might be useful: This Old House article on cottage gardens

This post was edited by rosefolly on Tue, Sep 3, 13 at 11:55

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Nice shed! Keep in mind the ultimate mature size of any plants you choose for this area as your beds are not that large and some shrubs/roses can be 6-8' across when mature. There are small varieties of many tho so do your research.

You don't say your zone but I'm in zone 3 and grow Munstead lavender quite successfully. Occasionally I'll lose one or a few that don't overwinter but most survive and flourish.

Unless you have a herb garden elsewhere you might plant some interspersed with perennials. Oregano, thyme, chives, rosemary, parsley, and dill can look very nice in a flower garden and are useful as well. Chives or any alliums (garlic and onions are others) are good companions for roses.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Thank you for the compliments on the shed, rosefolly and luckygal! DH is pretty handy and likes to build things.

rosefolly, I'll suggest a rose to DH, as he's now our official rose gardener. (I was fired. ;) It would be beautiful. I'm also shying away from reseeders. I love columbine, but it's become a weed in our gardens! We already have several of the flowers on your list, so could get a good head start on this with only divisions - nice! I'm enjoying the link very much!

luckygal, I'm also concerned about the shallowness of this garden, and will be mindful to try for smaller varieties. I'm thinking a max of 4' high, with less spread if possible. I'm in zone 6b, so I hope most lavenders will overwinter successfully. I do already have an extensive herb garden, but herbs are so pretty that I think I might sneak a few into my cottage garden.

Thank you both for the info! I've got a good list now to start researching, though I'm happy to entertain more suggestions. :)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Luckygal, thanks for the correction about lavender. A person who owned a nursery in zone 6 told me that lavenders would die there over the winter. I took her word for it.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Rosefolly, there are many types of lavender so technically she's correct about some but not all. One year I bought a lavender that was for zone 8 I think, or maybe 9 and considered it an annual but didn't have the heart to throw it out at the end of the season so wintered it over in the house. It was good for another year but I didn't bother to do the same next winter.

Munstead Lavender is supposedly a zone 4 plant but I have a pretty good survival rate as we have snow cover.

Here is a link that might be useful: lots of different lavenders at Richters

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 6:01PM
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I love Hidcote lavender! It stays a little smaller than Munstead and is also hardy in our zone 4 garden. Hidcote is more of a blue/purple, rather than the gray purple and make a very nice edging plant...probably 18" tall.

Here's a picture, from a few years ago. I'm going to try to take pictures this year, but the lavender is only a little larger.

I think the roses are a great idea...and pink, red, yellow and white (even peach) will all look good with Hidcote lavender :) From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:25PM
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lavender, your garden is so pretty!! I love the restrained color palette. I'm thinking about doing a purple/yellow/white garden.

I'll add Hidcote lavender to my list of things to research, as I really like the more intense purple flowers. I just hope it can take the dry conditions in MD. I do water, but am willing to go only so far with that, and would prefer drought tolerant lovelies.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:46PM
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rosefolly, do you have specific suggestions for shrub roses? I'd like an informal looking one that is black spot resistant, since we don't spray. It's very muggy here in MD in the summer.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:34PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Many varieties of penstemon stay quite small and are very care free and don't reseed-- at least not for me. Daisies would be perfect, but try to find a small variety. I love liatris, but that does reseed, unless you mulch. I've had my most weed free year ever since we mulched our oak leaves and put a thick layer over the entire garden. Literally no weeds except along the edge where the leaves ended. Have fun and good luck.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 6:10AM
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Penstemon is quite pretty, and I wasn't aware that it existed. We actually have liatris already, but I didn't realize it was a reseeders, so I guess we're OK in the mulch department. :) Thanks for the recommendations, docmom!

DH and I have birthdays next month, so our gift to each other will be a trip to a good nursery. I will go armed with a good list of perennials.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 8:10AM
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So after all that planning... DH and I went to a nursery and just got what they had left! I think it will be lovely, though we left holes so we can put in more spring bloomers. So here's what we got: daffodils, crocuses, small holly shrubs, lobelia, lavender (munstead and hidcote), blanket flower, Shasta daisies, echinacea, and phlox. We transplanted some small hemerocallis and coreopsis that didn't look right in another garden. Here's what it looks like today:

Thanks for all your good advice!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 6:03PM
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This shot shows that there's a bit of color right now, but not for long!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 6:22PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Really nice job. Well done! I like the raised beds even more from the angle in the second picture.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 4:10PM
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Thank you, Martha! :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 5:48PM
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