In the last few weeks – when I haven’t been writing – I’ve been spending every spare moment outside, busily trying to create my “Dream Cottage Garden”!
It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve spent hours online, reading all about annuals vs perennials, “deep shade” vs “part-sun”, fertilisers, fish emulsion and foliage feeds… not to mention all the nasty creepy-crawlies that want to munch on your plants!
I have to say, I felt a bit overwhelmed at first – there seemed to be so much to learn! I’d never even grown a weed before and I was terrified of getting things wrong.
Still, sometimes life makes it easy… like walking into the garden centre and seeing this:
OMG! Look at those colours!! I have a terrible weakness for anything pink (with purple coming a close second) so in the end, I decided not to worry too much about trying to get everything right and just buy whatever caught my eye! 😉
Meanwhile, back at home, with all the old bushes and grasses ripped out from the garden bed, I had a completely blank slate…
… which can be a bit daunting! Where do I start? How do I fill all that empty space?
Pretty much the only thing left from the old garden was our little frangipani tree. Several of you were asking me about the tree after my last post. It’s also known as Plumeria and it’s native to the tropics – you see tons of them in the Polynesian Islands, like Tahiti and the Cook Islands, and also in Asia too. And they’re very popular in the warmer parts of Australia as well.
They produce beautiful fragrant flowers, which are worn by many of the islanders in their hair, tucked behind an ear. You also always seem to see the flowers in advertisements for spas! 😉
When we got this one, I picked a variety with pink flowers (of course!) and I didn’t know at the time that the white flowers are more fragrant – so I’m slightly regretful now! But it’s still very pretty to look at…
Anyway, going back to my Cottage Garden Project…
Muesli and I had great fun laying out all the little pots of flowers I’d bought, trying to decide which combination of colours to plant together. It was a bit difficult sometimes because many of the plants were only babies – but I had to keep looking up the information for how big they would eventually grow to – I didn’t want to plant something that would grow to 3 feet in front of all the little dwarf flowers!
Luckily, the garden centres here offer a lot of “Potted Colour” – 5 little pots for $12 – and you can mix and match. They had all the usual cottage garden favourites, like salvias and pansies, daisies and sweet alyssum, and my favourite: stocks – and in LOTS of different shades of pinks and purples! 😉
There is also a long narrow bed on the other side of the garden, which is completely shaded by the garage wall – so it never gets sunshine. But funnily enough, it was actually easier to fill this bed, because there are only so many plants that will grow in full shade – especially if I still want colourful flowers.
I ended up going with New Guinea impatiens (glorious big pink & white flowers!), Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ (my favourite! love the beautiful, dainty lavender flowers on tall stalks), some fire lilies (Clivia miniata), some heuchera and a couple of ferns, as well as some big New Zealand rock lilies, with their graceful strapping leaves in the background. Oh, and a star jasmine to climb up the wall and hopefully grow along the side of the garage and cover it in fragrant white blooms!
Our living room has French windows which look out onto a wooden deck at the back, and that’s always been very bare – so I found some mini replica wine barrel containers and filled them with flowers.
Here’s one that smells gorgeous, filled with Heliotrope ‘Cherry Pie’ (yes, it really does smell like vanilla & cherry pie!!), stocks, sweet alyssum and some petunias…
… and d’you remember the container with the baby blueberry bush I was telling you about in my last “Dream Cottage Garden” post?
Guess what? The bush has started flowering! 🙂 I was so excited when I spotted the first dainty little white flowers…
The bush has been growing really well too – so hopefully, we might be picking fresh blueberries in a few months! This variety is called “Blueberry Burst” and it’s a dwarf bush, which apparently still produces huge berries. We’ll see…!
Meanwhile, there’s still work to be done in the new garden bed…
Now is a good time to be planting as it’s mid-winter in Western Australia and the weather is lovely: cool and crisp, with lots of sunshine and occasional rain. We don’t get frosts in Perth and it’s so mild and sunny, many plants don’t really go dormant but keep growing (and even blooming!) all through winter.
Come on, Muesli! No time to have a nap – we’ve got lots of planting to do!
Muesli told me to go out and start first… She’d follow in a minute…
What do you think? Is it starting to look like a cottage garden?? 😉
And finally… Ta-Da!
(Well, there’s still loads of the bed to fill – but it’s a start. I need to find some bigger/taller bushes to plant at the back. I’m thinking of getting some foxgloves & hollyhocks – cottage garden favourites! And maybe a couple more rose bushes…)
And here’s the shady bed, all planted in too:
(Look, I found some Rhoeo spathacea (a.k.a. “Moses-in-the-cradle”) – in stripey light PINK! They were made for me – hee! hee!)
Of course, now that I’ve done all the hard work, Muesli wakes up and saunters out to inspect the results… typical cat!
Well, at least she can do a bit of feline modelling for me. I love this picture of her posing in the golden late afternoon sunshine…
I hope you’re enjoying coming on this journey with me as I create my Dream Cottage Garden. More photos & updates coming soon!