The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Flowers from the garden: December 2008

Posted in Flowers | 10 comments

Flowers from the garden: December 2008

It’s been two years since I decided to stop buying cut flowers for the cottage. I love flowers so the first year was difficult. It seemed as if there were flowers for sale everywhere. I was tempted at every turn. This year the challenge has reaped dividends. I’ve overhauled the herbaceous borders over the past two years and now grow far more flowers than I used to. I treasure these flowers, whether they are growing in situ or picked to take indoors. Searching for flowers, especially during the winter months, means examining the garden...

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Flowers from the garden: December

Posted in Flowers | 13 comments

Flowers from the garden: December

It’s quite fitting that the last day in the year should end with the final monthly instalment of Flowers from the Garden. This was a challenge that I set myself in January 2007. Having been an extravagant flower buyer for over 20 years I decided not to buy flowers for the house from a shop or even a wayside stall. For the period of a year all flowers for the cottage had to be picked from our garden. With the exception of flowers given to me. This required a phenomenal strengthening of character. After two months of floral buying cold...

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Hyacinths in The Waste Land

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Hyacinths in The Waste Land

There’s something very sexy about hyacinths. Their fresh, heady exotic scent draws one way beyond the waxy flower heads and squeak of constraining leaves. Danny buried his nose in a pot of them and glanced up at me, “Mmmmm. Lovely. They smell of spring.” And they do but the scent has a deeper resonance for me. Each year the hyacinth draws me back to T.S. Eliot. When the flowers have finally come into their own and the house is heavy with their sultry perfume, I’m searching for my copy of The Waste Land. Somehow the...

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Narcissus: Paper Whites are flowering for us

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Narcissus: Paper Whites are flowering for us

When my Mum left at the end of her Christmas visit this year, she asked me to open the boot of her car. She had a funny glinty look so I was intrigued as I put the key in the look. Snuggled up beside the tyre jack was a bowl planted with paper white narcissii. I was delighted. In an instant she had filled a yawning gap. Usually we buy bulbs and plant them in large bowls for the cottage so that they’ll flower for us indoors through January and February. Once they are over, I plant the paper whites in a sunny protected spot in the garden...

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Jasmine Hoop (Jasminum polyanthum)

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 1 comment

Jasmine Hoop (Jasminum polyanthum)

If I haven’t had time to pot up bulbs for the house before Christmas I usually nip into Homebase around New Year to snap up some bulb sale bargains. This year I treated myself to a hoop of Jasmine polyanthum and now the kitchen is filled with its heady scent and the expectation of six weeks of flowers. There is something rather old fashioned and charming about this plant. I’m tempted to buy one most years and generally it fades away after flowering. I’m not intuitive with houseplants so I decided to do some research on caring...

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Fresh flowers

Posted in Cottage tales, Flowers | 0 comments

Fresh flowers

Years ago, my mother told me an old Chinese saying. ‘If you only have enough money to buy a loaf of bread, think again. Buy half a loaf and a chrysanthemum. They will both feed you.’ If we don’t have flowers in the house, I feel the difference. When I open the front door and if there are no flowers, there’s a gap. I love flowers. If you have a moment and are near some, take the time to examine them closely. If you get really intimate you’ll see what I mean. It’s another world. Breathtakingly beautiful. Dive...

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