Cottage Garden Tableau

– Posted in: Design, What's up/blooming

According to Zoey,

Real cottage gardening doesn't spend much money to make a cheerful summer garden.

What summer looks like in Purdyville.

A garden blog without pictures is like a hot fudge sundae sans the hot fudge. If you are really hungry for ice cream it might tempt you, but on most occasions you will pass it up.

If that’s true, I guess I’ve been serving up a lot of sauceless ice cream. Sorry, Zoey. (Although, speaking for myself, there are very few occasions where I pass up ice cream, lack of hot fudge notwithstanding.)

There are four things contributing to the dearth of photos.

  1. My garden is a mess.
  2. What little that is well-maintained is parched from the drought
  3. My contributors don’t know how to insert images into their posts
  4. We have a new digital camera and I still haven’t learned how to use it

I know, excuses, excuses. Well, here is a photo of the area in front of the porch. The black-eyed Susans on the right and the ‘Zebrina’ mallow on the left were self-sown and encouraged with a little judicious weeding. I didn’t do anything with the containers on the left in front of the mallow. Whatever’s in there is self-sown, weeds or otherwise. The marigolds and petunias in the store-bought containers were all planted by Titi. Caleb’s “pot-garden” is in the white enameled dishpan, and Deirdre’s “pot-garden” is in the black former chicken feeder.

The “tree” in the black pot is the Stewartia pseudocamellia I ordered earlier this year. I really, really, really want to plant it exactly where the old maple used to be out front. It’s been five years since that majestic old tree came down, but the stump is still there. I was hoping it was rotted enough that I could hollow out a space for the stewartia and some good garden soil, and it could just grow through the stump as it rotted. But it’s been so dry . . . I just try to keep it watered in its pot and hope autumn brings rain. And cross my fingers about the stump being rotted enough. If it isn’t, I guess I will be planting it to one side of the stump or the other.

Real Cottage Gardening

Anyway, the photo above sort of epitomizes my idea of cottage gardening. The original cottage gardeners were a lot more focused on growing food to eat than making things pretty, and if they didn’t invent the proverb “Make do or do without” they certainly lived by it. Most of their pretty plants were passalongs or just showed up. Some were practical plants such as medicinal herbs that just happened to look nice. And they were planted wherever there was room, in whatever was available. One of my favorite books, America’s Cottage Gardens: Imaginative Variations on the Classic Garden Style, begins with a great essay on what the essence of cottage gardening is. You’ll have to read the book to get the whole essay, but at one point she defines cottage gardens as “small, personal, individual, eccentric, spontaneous gardens created by amateurs.” I think of cottage gardening exemplifying a way of life more than a “style,” but that’s just me.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Inger August 27, 2008, 3:30 pm

Haha, that makes two of us!
I keep a blog too, mostly for my own sake, to remember things and such. If anyone else likes it too it’s a bonus.
I really like your blog anyway!

Lynn Schmidt September 28, 2005, 4:13 am

Our weather here in western pennsylvania went the same. Hot, hot summer with little rain and now some relief here in September. Took long enough.

I got my revenge though and planted a fall garden. Broccoli raab is doing great as is lettuce, carrots and chard. Wished it could have been more but I never got the 2 additional raised beds built I had planned on.

Molly Trolley September 1, 2005, 9:29 pm

Here in the foothills of the central Cascades asters and joe pye may bloom a bit in August but don’t really come into their own until mid-September so I’d call them early autumn flowers. Dahlias are usually late summer blooming but this year, thanks to slugs repeatedly mowing down the young plants, they are just beginning to form buds.

Kathy Purdy August 24, 2005, 6:01 am

Actually, he wrote gardening columns for a newspaper, which were later compiled into a book. To write a gardening column for a newspaper interesting enough that non-gardeners would read it, that is skill–and art, indeed. I aspire to such writing.

M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) August 23, 2005, 9:01 pm

Henry Mitchell wrote plenty of fantastic gardening books without padding them with photos.

Claire August 16, 2005, 4:57 pm

Great photo Kathy, I like the look of the boxes on the fence

You asked for Hollyhock seeds but I’m not sure you got my reply?? I’d love to send you some but need your address, email me

jenn August 15, 2005, 11:07 am

I love my digital camera.

My page is sad and tired and in need of an updated entry… soon… soon…

Alice Nelson August 14, 2005, 3:14 pm

Haven’t graduated to a digital but am thinking about it. Have always been interested in photograpy Per se, and will have to get a good one to satisfy myself. We had a straightline windstorm up here in the UP last Tuesday, but where some got up to 2 ” of rain, it seems to have misssed our area. We weren’t here, having run into it a couple of hours east of here on our way south to Lake Michigan, and there was really a lot of rain involved. At least the fire danger is down and it is cooler. (70s)My garden is definitely cottage style, but with no vegetables, unless you count the hanging pots of strawberries in the middle. They are beginning to show signs of bearing again. I have a few hundred (it seems) plants to pot up thanks to the gerosity of a friend downstate and a sister. I like to share them with my clients.

Kathy Purdy August 14, 2005, 6:35 am

The camera actually belongs to my daughter. She bought it (with some help from siblings) when our old family digital camera broke. I thought I’d look over the instruction manual while eating breakfast one day, and discovered it was a book (even after you subtracted out the other languages)! So I followed Bill’s method yesterday. I thought I had taken 5 shots of this scene, but there were only 2 on the memory card. Guess I better study the manual.

OldRoses August 14, 2005, 12:02 am

I’m ashamed to admit how long I owned my digital camera before I learned how to set the date and time on it. I’m an IT professional but if it doesn’t have a keyboard and mouse, I’m lost!

I love your picutre by the way. I thought “cottage garden” immediately.

bill August 13, 2005, 8:16 pm

Photos do help, but I wouldn’t call them required. I have always wanted to see your gardens though so learn that digital camera.

Actually I haven’t learned mine either. I just point in the general direction and press the button.