The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Scented geraniums are a must for every summer garden

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 16 comments

Scented geraniums are a must for every summer garden

Seraphina’s pelargoniums have survived the winter in window boxes in Cambridge. I was stunned when I spotted this the other day when I arrived to decorate her dining room. She chose the grey shade  (Pacific Breeze) in the Dulux Light and Space collection. The room looked stunning, soft and bright. Like walking inside a shell. Knowing Seraphina, I think that she had forgotten the pelargoniums. We have sadly lost all of ours. A collection that we’d kept going for years. Carefully potted up each autumn to over winter in the greenhouse. Even...

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Choosing the seeds for 2009

Posted in Flowers, Plants and Bulbs, Vegetables | 11 comments

Choosing the seeds for 2009

I woke up a couple of nights ago with the name “White Lady” on my lips. I lay quite still, wondering where the words had come from. A few minutes later I remembered that Maurice had recommended “White Lady”  as the best runner bean seed available in the UK. Jalopy and I were loitering in with intent in Fordham yesterday, visiting the organic butcher and the Secret Garden stand. Just opposite this wonderful resource there is a small branch of Scotsdale’s in the Fordham High Street. A good garden centre which is a mini version of the...

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Freedom

Posted in Cottage tales, Plants and Bulbs | 2 comments

Freedom

“Save it for a rainy day.” I could never understand that phrase when I was a child. We certainly didn’t shop more when it rained. Rain meant donning a sou’wester and gum boots and jumping in puddles. Why did I need to save? As it was raining today I couldn’t work. This meant that I was free to accompany my mum to Scotsdales nursery garden in Cambridge. A vast emporium packed with plants, seeds, pets and every gardening geegaw that you can imagine from inflated model robins to bird tables to attract the small, live...

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The shrub that slept all summer

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 7 comments

The shrub that slept all summer

If you plant a shrub that has been grafted onto root stock too deeply in the soil, the root stock can take over. This happened to my pretty viburnum. It fought back and was eventually dwarfed by a tall ugly shrubby tree. “We have to remove this and start again!” “But it has formed a perfect arch with the viburnum on the other side of the path. It doesn’t look ugly to me.” Danny did have a point so I kept the louche shrub for a couple of years and finally asked John to remove it and replace it with a pretty...

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Amaryllis and honey bees

Posted in Bees, Plants and Bulbs | 8 comments

Amaryllis and  honey bees

This morning was clear and crystal bright. When the Min Pins and I tramped to the chicken run we were stopped in our tracks by the loud buzz from our apiary. Hundreds of young bees were making test flights in the crisp sunshine. They do this to orientate themselves to the hive before making their first solo foraging flight. Having worked out the coordinates (they use the sun) they can venture for miles and always find their way back home. I collected 3 eggs from the run and returned to the kitchen with the lightest step. Sunshine just does the...

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Japanese maple. Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 32 comments

Japanese maple. Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

I bought this little tree on eBay three years ago. It looks bereft now in autumn and it is rapidly losing its leaves. They have turned from dark purple to a stunning red. For nine months it delights me. The foliage is small, dainty and exquisite. I had always thought that Japanese maples were a bit prinky, until I got one. Somehow this diminutive tree has crept under my skin. I would like to buy more. Old friends had a large one in a stone pot in their garden and it looked superb. I was disappointed when mine arrived. It looked so small and...

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Taking water cuttings of pelargoniums

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 11 comments

Taking water cuttings of pelargoniums

The kitchen is sweet with the smell of lemon scented geraniums. I finally hoicked out our two giant 3.5 feet plants and put them in the greenhouse. We are hoping that they will survive the winter and delight us again next summer. We are planning to plant them in the half barrels either side of the front door. I rarely take cuttings but this year we have taken quite a few from the scented geraniums. We are hoping that we have discovered a giant strain. The cuttings are insurance. Years ago, Bunty taught me how to take water cuttings. I have...

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Barrels and a bug

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 8 comments

Barrels and a bug

I crept home early from work today with a bug. Everything ached. So it was off to bed with a hottie, the Min Pins and a giant cup of tea. I slipped in between the cool sheets and fell deeply, instantly asleep. So there is no post tonight just a photo of the barrels of annuals either side of the cottage front door. The plants in these barrels have given us so much pleasure throughout the summer. The white pelargoniums are cast offs from my mother. They bloomed in her Cambridge window boxes last year. They rested in our greenhouse for the winter...

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