I know some plants take years to bloom, so waiting just a few seasons for this old-fashioned hollyhock to show its colors seems like a short time in comparison. But it’s a big deal in my cottage garden.
I bought an envelope marked “hollyhock seeds” for 50 cents at the Xeriscape Conference in Albuquerque in early 2010. These seeds were packaged in a business-size envelope by a gardener in New Mexico and were on a table at the conference’s book sale.
I should have sowed those seeds in spring to give the leaves a head start on the heat of summer. But I got busy and the seeds had to wait until fall.
I’ve always thought hollyhocks make a cottage garden complete, so I planted the seeds along the white picket fence that separates my cottage garden from the butterfly garden.
The Brown-eyed Susan is a native biennial plant that acts like a perennial because of its prolific self-sowing.
I’ve been talking about my vegetable garden a lot lately, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the flowers in my cottage garden. One of my all-time favorites is the Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) because it brightens up every corner where it appears.
My crop of Brown-eyed Susans started years ago with one plant I bought at a garden club plant sale. That one plant bloomed the following summer and I loved its little yellow flowers with dark brown centers.
The next year there were more Brown-eyed Susans that had self-sown along the side of my driveway. The next year they had spread to the front bed. And sow they’ve sown themselves, year after year to create fabulous fall borders. These flowers make gardening so easy.
Cottage gardens are filled with old-fashioned favorite flowers, like shrub roses, hollyhocks, lilies and honeysuckle, with garden structures for them to climb on.
Their paintings depict rambling gardens framed by vine-covered wooden arbors and overflowing with roses, colorful perennials and flowering shrubs. A cobblestone path typically winds its way through the garden to the door of a thatched cottage.
Gardens like these are more than just another pretty place. In England during the Victorian era, cottage dwellers planted simple gardens that were as beautiful as they were functional. These tightly-packed gardens were planted out of the need to grow food and herbal remedies on small plots of land. They included vegetables, herbs, hardy flowers, fruit trees and small shrubs.
In 2010 Lisa Gustavson resolves to spend more time teaching and helping others grow their own gardens. Lisa’s organic cottage garden (shown below) will surely serve as inspiration.
Thanks to all the gardeners who took a few minutes to contemplate their 2010 gardening resolutions and share them here.
The randomizer selected Lisa Gustavson’s number as the winner of the gardening gift grab bag.
Lisa gardens in Chili, New York, a town just outside of Rochester. She says her yard is in the process of being transformed into a series of gardens and plantings, but that it’s far from complete.
Her focus for the last two years has been a large organic “cottage style” heirloom vegetable garden filled with annuals, perennials, herbs and veggies all mingled together.
Lisa’s gardening resolution comes from the number of visitors to her garden who express surprise at what she can grow in an average backyard.