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Newsletters & Company News

Greenhouse Newsletter - Create a Cottage Garden

February 2nd, 2006:


February 2006
Volume 10


Creating a Cottage Garden

Tips For Creating a Cottage Garden
Bananas Over Tropics
We're Getting Popular


Spring really is just around the corner! So far, this winter has brought us a real mix of both extreme and mild weather conditions to many parts of the U.S. and Canada. We experienced record high temperatures, followed by extreme snow, ice, sleet and rain. In January, daffodils and tulips were already up about 4 inches, unheard of for northern gardens!

In our last issue, we zeroed in on color schemes, and in this issue we'll be Creating a Cottage Garden. Tropical plants continue to be a hot trend for this year, and for those of you who are bananas over tropics, you won't want to miss the photos sent in to us by one of our readers, Michelle Derviss of California.

Creating a Cottage Garden

Many of us have admired the romantic disorder of pretty, perfumed overflowing beds of flowers. The cottage garden look can easily be achieved regardless of where you live or the size of your garden. You can add cottage garden plants to an existing garden, or devote a small garden to them. Not only will you enjoy the wonderful fragrance on summer days, but this weed-smothering style is easily maintained.


Cottage gardens are quite charming with their untidy flowers, herbs and vegetables spilling over paths, and often naturally look as though they "just happened". This garden type is perfect if you like to mix annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, fruit trees and vegetables! Just about anything goes!

Old-fashioned flowers are the backbone of a cottage garden and should be included for the overall effect. Think of old-fashioned roses, delphiniums, daisies, foxgloves, pansies, cosmos, poppies and sweet peas just to name a few. Having a packed flower bed not fills the garden with color, but also suppresses weed growth.
Apple trees always had a place in a real cottage garden. Not only grown for their fruit, but they also provided early spring blossoms and support for climbers to scramble up their branches.

Who says we can't plant vegetables in with our flowers and herbs? They can be grown in the border and mixed in with flowers, where they look their best. They often have interesting foliage and flowers too. Try scarlet runner beans, artichokes, peppers and tomatoes. Herbs are wonderful, adding fragrance, texture and spice to many a dish in the kitchen.


Tips For Creating a Cottage Garden

  • Use lots of color, and strive for an informal look offering natural charm

  • Select old-fashioned roses and flowers

  • Let plants spread and self seed (like sweet william)

  • Use patches of white flowers to offset strong colors

  • Include a mix of both dainty and strong flowers

  • Let some plants happily sprawl about (such as catmint)

  • Plant close together in small groups

  • A wall, fence or hedge acts as an ideal background

  • Tall plants do not necessarily have to be set at the back of the border

  • Add garden interest like birdhouses, old country chairs, wrought iron planters or gazing balls

Bananas Over Tropics

"It's a jungle out there" has taken on a new meaning for our reader, Michelle Derviss of Novato, California. What's really amazing is that Michelle has created this tropical oasis in only one year! "The greenhouse was the first thing in the backyard that was erected. It has been up for about one and a half years," said Michelle.


She started cuttings in the greenhouse, babied transplants and grew one gallon nursery plants into 5 gallon plants, and 5 gallon plants into 15 gallon pot sizes. In the meantime, Michelle was busy hacking away at blackberry brambles and clearing away 40 years of messy unwanted growth.
"I decided to install a tropical inspired garden," Michelle said. "My thought was, if one can't afford to go to Hawaii, then bring Hawaii to your own backyard." Michelle did treat herself to a few large size container plants to add immediate height and maturity to the tropical garden. She splurged on a 15 gallon container of Chinese Banana, however, most of the other plants were started with cuttings, or were only about one year old. "Some of the earlier starts were planted up in the greenhouse prior to the soil preparation and path installation," she added.


"I think what I enjoy the most about my greenhouse is the sense of regeneration and transformation that it provides to both me and the garden," Michelle added. My favorite time of day to spend in it is in the very early morning when it is naturally warm from the morning sun and the rest of the garden is still waking up from the cool of the evening. Early morning coffee tastes so much better in the reflective light and the warmth of the greenhouse and my day gets off to an inspirational start."


Kudos to you Michelle, you've inspired all of us who are dreaming of owning a greenhouse, or are bananas over tropics!



I've already been checking my gardens, finding out what's already sprouted, and you probably have too. Soon the first bulbs will be in bloom, the official start of our gardening season in the north.


Michelle Derviss has inspired me to expand my collection of exotic tropicals to use both indoors and outside. I've already started many tropicals from seed, including my Giant White Bird of Paradise. I'm definitely planning on having a little bit of Hawaii in my own backyard, how about you?
Backyard Greenhouses
A div. of Ecolad Corporation

Written By: Shelley Awad
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