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.

Girl History Month – Gertrude Jekyll ‘Artist Gardener Craftswoman’

There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight.

Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was an influential British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer. Her brilliant designs continue to inspire gardeners everywhere.

Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Manor Garden

Gertrude was born into a prosperous family and was educated in the arts from an early age. Jekyll’s brother, Walter, was a friend of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who borrowed the Jekyll family name for the title of his psychological thriller, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde.

Young Gertrude

Young Gertrude

When she was 18, Jekyll was admitted to the South Kensington School of Art, where she studied painting, as well as botany, optics and the science of color. She would have had a career as a painter had not her sight begun to fail.

Watercolor by Gertrude Jekyll

Watercolor by Gertrude Jekyll

As her eyesight dimmed, Jekyll conceived the idea of creating art works from flowers and shrubs, and turning the design of gardens into an art form. She started to design simple cottage gardens and, as her career advanced, produced grand designs for country houses.

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Jekyll was greatly influenced by William Morris, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement in art, architecture, and crafts during the late 19th century.  Morris advocated a return to an informal planting style based upon an idealized English cottage garden.  Jekyll shared Morris’s mystical view of nature and drew on the floral designs in his textiles for her garden designs.

William Morris Textile Design

William Morris Textile Design

In 1889, Jekyll was introduced to the architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, with whom she began an association, creating landscapes for his avant-garde constructions. This successful partnership, with each influencing the other, resulted in one hundred Lutyens/Jekyll designs and greatly contributed to the English way of life.

Hestercombe House Garden

Hestercombe House Garden

Jekyll was a formidable plants-woman, who experimented with plants in her own garden at Munstead Wood in Surrey before recommending them to anyone. She taught the value of ordinary plants familiar to gardeners today, Hostas, Bergenias, Lavender and old fashioned roses.

Glebe House

Glebe House

Gertrude Jekyll concentrated her design work on applying plants in a variety of settings, woodland gardens, water gardens and herbaceous borders always striving to achieve the most natural effect. She had an artist’s eye for color and contrasted plant textures to great effect.

Munstead Wood, Surrey

Munstead Wood, Surrey

Jekyll was the author of 15 books, her most famous being Wood and Gardening, a guide to the creation of gardens in a variety of climates and conditions. She was a prolific designer, completing around 350 commissions in England and America, many of which still exist today.

In 1986, the rose breeder David Austin created a deep-pink shrub rose and named it in Jekyll’s honor.

David Austin's "Gertrude Jekyll" Rose

David Austin’s “Gertrude Jekyll” Rose

Jekyll died on December 9, 1932 at Munstead Wood, Surrey. She is buried in St John’s Churchyard, Busbridge. On her tombstone is inscribed the simple epitaph by Sir Edwin Lutyens, ‘Artist Gardener Craftswoman’.

grave stone

Pruning Roses And Flying Bees

Sunrise on Columbia Parkway

Sunrise on Columbia Parkway

It’s a gorgeous day on Columbia Parkway! The sun is shining and it’s almost 60 degrees F. It’s perfect for doing yard cleanup, putting down some compost and checking on my bees.

I noticed this morning that my rose bushes are starting to bud. Time to do some much needed late winter pruning!

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Winter pruning is important for the well-being of roses, as it stimulates the growth of new shoots which will provide flowers.

The best time to prune is just as spring growth starts. It’s not a good idea to wait until the new young shoots are a few inches long as this wastes the plant’s energy and will delay flowering.

The basics of pruning

The first step is easy. Cut out any shoots that are dead and diseased. Spores on these stems can easily reinfect the new shoots in spring so removing them will help with disease control. Also cut out any stems that are particularly weak or rubbing against each other

The next step is to prune the remaining stems.  Most roses benefit from moderate pruning, reducing the height by 1/4 to 3/4. I usually trim about 1/3 of the average height of the stems.

If you have the time you can make sure to prune just above the bud and at a slight angle away from the bud. The angle of the cut is more of an issue for Hybrid Teas and Floribundas as they can be more susceptible to die back than shrub roses. I do make sure that my secateurs are clean and sharp.

Once you have finished pruning your roses it’s important to clean up all the cut stems and fallen leaves as they can carry disease onto the next season.

Then apply a good layer of mulch such as garden compost or well rotted manure. No bark mulch please!! This will help to bury any spores left on the soil surface, keep the soil moist and cool, prevent weeds from germinating and feed the microorganisms in the soil.

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After I finished pruning, I checked in on my bees. They were flying like crazy!

I was delighted to see they were collecting pollen, not just out for a warm weather potty visit.

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I’m adding a third hive this year, so I’m moving the original hive to the bottom of the garden. Moving day is tomorrow! I’ll be sure and let you know how it goes…

More Bee-Friendly Roses From David Austin

In addition to his new varieties, David Austin offers three beautiful bee-friendly roses.

Comte de Champagne

Comte de Champagne

‘Comte de Champagne’ has flowers of a rich yellow coloring which as they open, gradually turn to a pleasing pale yellow. They open to form a perfect open cup, with a ‘mop’ of stamens of deepest yellow; the whole providing a delightful range of color on the bush at one time. The growth is wide, low and bushy, producing its flowers on slender, arching stems. There is a delicious honey and musk fragrance that complements the flower to perfection. Healthy and free flowering.

This rose is named after Taittinger’s finest champagne. The president of Taittinger, M Claude Taittinger, is a descendant of Thibaut IV, Count of Champagne and Brie and who introduced R. gallica Officinalis (The Apothecary’s Rose) from Damascus on his return from the 7th Crusade in 1250. He was a great lover of roses and wrote about them in his poetry.

The Alexandra Rose

The Alexandra Rose

A tall and rather spreading shrub bearing dainty, coppery-pink flowers with a yellow center and pretty stamens. Its foliage shows signs of its Alba parent and the flowers have attractive, long conspicuous sepals on the opening bud. Hardy and disease-resistant.

It has a soft Musk Rose fragrance.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

This is not truly an English Rose but we include it here for convenience as it has connections with our Musk Hybrids. The flowers, which are small and single, are held in very large heads rather like a hydrangea and produced almost continuously from early summer through to the end of the season. The young buds are soft apricot opening to pure white, with a hint of soft lemon behind the stamens. The flowers are followed by small red hips which should be removed to encourage repeat flowering.

It is extremely healthy and completely thornless – an unusual thing among roses. It has a bushy but rather upright habit of growth, making it ideal for the back of a mixed border. A group of two or three or more bushes will provide a mass of white as though they were covered with snow. This rose is particularly suitable for forming a magnificent impenetrable flowering hedge.

We are naming this rose in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Kew Gardens. We are replanting the rose garden behind the famous Palm House, returning it to the layout of 1848 and filling it with a wonderful mixture of English Roses, Old Roses and other shrub roses.

Two New Bee-Friendly David Austin Roses

I just received my 2013 David Austin Handbook of Roses and was delighted to see there are two new cultivars that are especially bee-friendly.

"Fighting Temeraire"

“Fighting Temeraire”

‘Fighting Temeraire’  has the shape, color and fragrance that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. The fully open flowers are very large, 4-5″ across, and have only ten petals. They are a rich apricot color, with an area of yellow behind the stamens. The fragrance is medium to strong, very fruity with a strong element of lemon zest.

‘Fighting Temeraire’ is a painting from 1839 by the famous landscape painter, watercolorist and printmaker, JMW Turner. This rose has been named for the Turner Contemporary Gallery on Margate’s seafront in Kent.

The Lady's Blush

The Lady’s Blush

Bees will be attracted to the open shape and creamy white and yellow center of The Lady’s Blush.   As with all semi-double roses, the central group of stamens is a very important feature. These are particularly fine; a beautiful soft yellow color with highlights of golden-yellow pollen. Its only drawback is its light fragrance.

It has been named to commemorate the 125th anniversary of The Lady magazine, which is the longest running weekly magazine for women.