Should you see dirt/mulch between the plants in cottage garden?

lavender_lass(4b)November 27, 2012

I'm wondering what you all think about this question. Do you like to see dirt/mulch between your plants...or do you like plants to meet together...or do you have such a packed garden that it's every plant for itself? :)

I like a full garden, which to me means very little dirt or mulch showing, once the plants get established (maybe 2-3 years in our area). My mom likes to see some bark between her plants and does not like any weeds. I'm more forgiving and don't mind a few weeds, especially if they bring in ladybugs and are in the back of the bed.

So, what about you? Do you like order, chaos or something in between? Or do you think a (shall we say rambunctious?) bed is not chaotic, but merely established? Looking forward to everyone's input!

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LL, have missed you, hope all is well with you and DH.

I would love to have a little order in my garden, but in reality it doesn't work out that way. Oh well, less weeds to pull. This year I planted some Gregg's Blue Mist that was given to me, it went wild, and the butterflies love it on their trip south for the winter! I'm trying for butterfly friendly garden, have milkweed and frost weed, all among the roses, and they love it!

How is your weather, have you had snow? We've had a very warm fall, it was in the 50's today, but heading back to the 80's. Brought late tomatoes in today, have many more on the vine, will bring them in before it freezes.

Take care!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:13PM
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Ogrose- Oh, your butterfly/rose garden sounds beautiful! The Blue that hardy to zone 4? Probably not, but I'd love to find some more groundcovers, especially that attract butterflies.

My husband is working hard in his physical rehab and took 8 steps on Thanksgiving. We're hoping he'll be home for Christmas!

It's been warmer than usual, but that's only 40s during the day and low 30s at night. It's been in the low 20s a few nights, but it is nice to have it 'warm up' during the day. I still have a few butterfly bushes in pots (I don't know how they're holding on so well) and some bulbs to plant, so I need to get out there before the ground freezes. I can't even imagine 80s in November, but it must be so nice for gardening :)

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:59AM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

The only time you see dirt in my garden is when I'm clearing a patch out for replanting. Either because something died, or a big plant is in the wrong place and I'm having it yanked out!

The weeds come up regardless, making for a whole lot of exercise during the winter months. I spent two hours yesterday in between the winter rains, yanking weeds from a relatively small patch in the two front beds.

Only 13 more garden beds to go weed....sigh.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:15PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

Hi Lavender lass,
I also missed you lately,Sorry to hear why, hope your DH will be back to full health soon.
I like the gardens to be full of flowers, but am still learning how to do that and have it look nice, and not overgrown. Know what I mean?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 2:47PM
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I've pretty much had a jungle until this year. I like to *think* I want to see mulch in between plants but have never (until now) been able to accomplish this! So not sure it's really my favorite garden look. This is the first year in a very long time I've had spaces between plants showing lots of mulch and am hoping I can leave well enough alone so the plants have space to grow. The only reason my garden looks this way right now is because of a relentless weeding and removing self-seeders this year. I'd like to leave at least the recommended space between perennials but time will tell if I can indeed do this.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:30PM
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LL, so glad to see you posting again! Also happy for you that your DH is improving! You have been missed.

I always start out with mulch showing, but do tend to crowd so that by the time the plants reach maturity not much mulch can be seen.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:46PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Mulch - no,no,no,no,no! (unless it's home brewed compost.) Soil, perhaps early in the year, but preferably not. If I can see empty space there's a problem that needs filling in fast. I hate 'blobby' beds. It's the overall picture that matters to me, not specimens in isolation.

Coloured mulch is the absolute ghastliest thing I can imagine in a garden.

A packed garden doesn't necessarily mean every plant for itself. With experience you can have packed AND organised. The 'natural' look is the hardest style of all to get right IMO.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 4:49PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Praying for a speedy recovery for your DH.

As for bare spots, it depends on the bed. Some beds are planted cheek by jowl while others are a bit more open.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 5:51PM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

I have mulch showing as I wait for most things to mature more and at some point I shouldn't need much. Nice to see you LL, hope hubby is doing better.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:07PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I have no choice but to mulch if I don't want $500 a month water bills, but I don't want to see the mulch after the plants leaf out. So mulch away to help reduce water needs and weeds, but let the plants mature and fill in so you don't have to look at it, no matter how pretty it is :)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 7:48PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I have a problem- if I see a bare area I want to fill it with a plant. I couldn't keep an 'open space' to see the dirt inbetween if I tried, lol! I kind of agree that a jam-packed garden helps to shade out majority of the weeds. My garden is pretty full and mature, which is likely the reason I had so little weeding to do overall this season.

When I do have to weed I must admit it is kind of a pain, with so little room to step. It's like playing twister with a knife (my weeding tool of choice ;-) in hand, gingerly arching yourself over that prized Geranium, two toes on the only sliver of bare soil in the area (yep, I go barefoot in the garden), with one hand balanced on the rock by the pathway, the other trying in vain to pop that devil-sent weed out.

I HAVE added a few stepping stones to help out with this, though not nearly enough. It takes all my might not to take away the ones I do have set around the garden and replace them with one of the many Jezebel-plants that keep tempting me to buy them, LOL.

Sure hope your DH gets better soon LL!!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Hi LL, nope I don't think the Blue Mist would make it, it's good to 0 Degrees.

This picture I've shown way too many times, but shows the mulch, won't last much longer with the way things are growing. I'm with girlgroupgirl, try to keep water bill down, it just seems a must here in the south if we want any kind of garden or growth. I'll be getting more this month.

I'm glad your husband is doing better, will say a prayer that he'll be home for Christmas with you!

(No, I don't miss Montana a bit except for the beauty!)


    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 9:25PM
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If you have bare soil between plants, it's an ideal spot for weeds to invade. Mulch, such as natural shredded cedar, is fine. I do, however, plant groundcovers between plants so that I won't have to mulch so much.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 10:06AM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

I mulch for water conservation purposes. I would love my beds to be solid plants like I see in others photos. But that is not usually the case here. My house faces North, so much of my garden gets the late afternoon sun.

ogrose: the gregg's blue mist spreads very easily. It can be a bully here is SA. So few things do that well with little help in my rock/alkaline /thin soil.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 4:52PM
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plantmaven, my house faces north too, and that can present some problems, especially from the west sun late in the afternoon, it just bakes everything. I kept the front beds very simple for that reason, have Indian Hawthorn, Ophiapogon and coral Drift Roses, so far so good.

Yes, I know what you're saying about Gregg's Blue Mist. Started off with three tiny plants, and pretty soon it had taken over. But, the butterflies just swarmed to it! I'll have my hands full next spring...

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

"Should you see dirt/mulch between the plants in cottage garden?" All I know is that when I don't, it's time to make a new bed 'cuz I'm out of room.

I do put rocks throughout, but they're mostly winter interest, they get lost eventually, but are great landmarks in the spring. They keep the dog from laying in the beds. I try to step in the same spots as the last time when I have to get in, and preferably the rocks if they are flat enough.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Oh, my, after all the "bragging" about our great December weather here in Texas , we're about to get a real freeze (texas-wise, that is)! Sunday will be a high of 70, then later that day that Canada front comes through and they are calling for a few snowflakes Monday morning if you get up early enough, and Tues and Wed mornings will be in the high 20's. Plan to work in the yard tomorrow, and wind it up for this year, yes, I'm ready!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 9:44PM
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This was the front garden to the house that we sold 2 years ago. Unfortunately, the buyer has absolutely no interest in gardening. Moral of the story is don't drive by your former yard :-(

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:54AM
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What a neat place you had! Yes, I have often thought about that; if I moved it would take about exactly one season for my yard to become an absolute mess - I wouldn't be able to bear coming back...

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:40AM
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Moral of the story is don't drive by your former yard :-(

I agree it can be painful to see all of one's work destroyed through neglect. I have only once had that situation and it was difficult. I had to remind myself that when I have sold a property it is no longer mine and I'm not responsible.

I have since google mapped previously owned properties and they all seemed to be cared for, even the one that was in such bad shape the year after we left it.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I can understand not wanting to garden, but what really bums me out is when they cut down trees just coming into their prime, finally starting to shade the south or west side and block the wind. Go figure.

That's lovely, Wantto...!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 2:59PM
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