English Cottage Gardening – Herbs Of The Mint Family

Herbs of the Mint family are a beautiful and useful addition to any cottage garden. They include such favorites as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and lemon balm.

Basil flowers

Basil flowers

Sage

Sage

Originally, cottage gardens were grown for household use, not for beauty alone. Herbs were used as medicine, as flavoring for food, and to freshen the air in the damp, musty lodgings.

Rosemary

Rosemary

The concept of a separate herb garden, isolated from other flowering plants, would have been inconceivable to an early cottage gardener. Herbs and vegetables were grown side by side with roses and foxgloves, both of which also had household uses.

Bee on Lavender

Bee on Lavender

As you can see from these pictures, herbs can be as beautiful as purely decorative plantings. They are also very attractive to bees and butterflies.

Thyme

Thyme

I try to incorporate as many as I can into my overall garden design.

English Cottage Gardening – Bee Friendly In Your Garden

This charming poster is both educational and decorative. It’s a great reminder of what bee-friendly plants are blooming throughout the foraging season.

It’s available for purchase from Friends of the Earth.

bee plant poster

English Cottage Gardening – Bees Love Nepeta And So Do I

I love Nepeta aka catmint!  It’s also a favorite of honey bees and other pollinators. It’s deer resistant too!

Below one of my ever-present fluffy Bumbles enjoys a tasty snack…

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It is a beautiful plant to use in a border. Gertrude Jekyll wrote “it is a plant that can hardly be overpraised.”

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I find catmint easier to grow than lavender. If you cut it back after first bloom, it will bloom again just as vigorously.

My favorite cultivar is Walker’s Low which was the 2007 Perennial of the Year. The name, Walker’s Low, does not refer to the size of the plant, but to a garden in England.

Plant some catmint this summer. Your buzzing friends will thank you!

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 15, 2013

Foxglove, Hosta, and Clematis are the stars of my garden in May!

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  • Clematis (asurreygarden.wordpress.com)

English Cottage Gardening – Planting Mt. Everest

My back garden is, well, it’s very steep. I twist my ankle every time I take a stroll in it. I call it Mt. Everest.

Mt. Everest aka my back garden

Mt. Everest aka my back garden

I have some nice David Austin rose bushes planted in the border, but this year my gardening goal is to make a beautiful Gertrude Jekyll-style border for my bees who live at the bottom.

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

So far I’ve planted lots of lavender and some lambs’ ears. Today I’m planting nepeta and lilies. I’m thinking about buying golf shoes to garden in.

To keep myself motivated, I’ll post the progress of my border throughout the rest of the season. Wish me luck!!

Deb

English Cottage Gardening – Plant An Apple Tree For Arbor Day

Johnny_Appleseed_1972_post_card

This Friday, April 26 is Arbor Day in the US. It’s a day when individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees.

Arbor Day originated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 and an estimated one million trees were planted that day. Many countries now observe a similar holiday.

Planting trees is also very good for honey bees.

Did you know that trees provide most of the surplus nectar and pollen for bees?  Or that 5 or 6 trees produce as much nectar and pollen as a whole field of wildflowers?

Most people don’t.  That’s unfortunate because planting a tree, especially in an urban area, is one of the most effective things you can do to help save the bees.

So what kind of tree belongs in an English cottage garden? The only trees that can be said to be truly authentic to the cottage garden are fruit and nut trees. An added bonus is that bees love them!

The notion of planting a tree for shade would have been totally foreign to cottage gardeners. A tree was worthy of space in the garden only for what it could produce for the table. Most of these traditional trees weren’t large and were further pruned back to reduce their height for ease of harvest.

Cottage Garden with Apple Tree

Cottage Garden with Apple Tree

Apple trees were by far the most common type of tree found in a cottage garden. Cultivars which are especially suitable are Heyer #20, Parkland, and Rutherford.

So plant a tree and save a bee this Arbor Day!