The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Flowers from the garden: August 2009

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Flowers from the garden: August 2009

I suddenly realised that it was the last day of August so I had a wander in the garden and found these. I’ve waited two years for this one eachinea flower. It hurt to pluck it but it just had to join this group. It is, after all, a celebration of flowers that you can easily grow in an English cottage garden. Not having bought flowers since January 2007 has forced me to overhaul the herbaceous borders. They are now packed with flowers all summer. By adding plants from wayside stands and garden fetes, the transformation wasn’t expensive. It...

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Flowers from the garden: May 2009

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Flowers from the garden: May 2009

Next month I will be celebrating the challenge of not buying flowers for two and a half years. Apart from saving approximately £500 a year, this challenge has forced me to overhaul the herbaceous borders and become much more inventive with the flowers that grow in our garden. The arrangements are surprisingly soft compared to those in the shops. May is the start of the easy flower picking months. Perhaps next year I will grow flowers undercover for the winter months although I do enjoy the move from a tiny glass of snowdrops in January to a...

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Flowers from the garden: April 2009

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Flowers from the garden: April 2009

When I moved into the cottage sixteen years ago I was greeted at the end of the first month by hundreds of bluebells. I was thrilled, as most are, by the smaller wild British varieties of bluebells that I remembered from woodland walks as a child. These are prettier than the large ones that grow into thug-like clumps and invade with big hefty boots. We have a few of those and have found that they are not very invasive. I also discovered that there were small white and pink bells too. I didn’t know that these existed. The blue ones are...

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The secret of species tulips

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The secret of species tulips

I have written about species tulips before . I like growing ordinary tulips but have fallen wantonly in love with species tulips. Our local squirrel has adjusted our planting plans and has buried small groups all over the garden. And they are now slowly spreading. When I first moved to the cottage I planted over 500 ordinary tulip bulbs. Sixteen years later we have just seven bulbs left (these are the red ones that seem to just go on and on). But Lady of the Night, a beautiful red and white parrot variety and a host of other tulip wonders...

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Gardening surprises

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Gardening surprises

I concentrated on the herbaceous borders all weekend and stayed outside this evening until I couldn’t distinguish weeds from plants. Quite a few plants had been knocked out by the hard winter, which is always sad. As usual giant buttercups, dandelions and nettles are thriving. But at this stage in the year they are easy to remove. I moved in to the cottage seventeen years ago this April. Easter was early and my mother and I spent the long weekend weeding the existing beds. They were packed with buttercups that were so hard to remove that in...

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Flowers from the garden: November 2008

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Flowers from the garden: November 2008

Oops. It’s now December and I’ve forgotten to post November flowers from the garden. But during November I did cast a beady eye around and spotted that the Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ was in bud and now it’s started to open. This is a beautiful shrub that enjoys a shady spot and can survive in most neglected UK gardens. I know this as I visit different houses and their gardens on a regular basis. We have counted and these visits averages around 70 a year. An amazing opportunity to meet new people and examine their houses and...

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Flowers from the garden: August 2008

Posted in Flowers | 5 comments

Flowers from the garden: August 2008

What could be sweeter than a posy of flowers. Picked from your own garden, on a sunny evening when the air is full of swallows and bees. Not just the flowers but the joy of the moment is carried indoors to curl beside me on the kitchen table. Companionable, late into the night. Outside, the garden drifts in darkness and the wind in the trees is the sound of the...

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Flowers from the garden: April 2008

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Flowers from the garden: April 2008

“Please ring me when the apple blossom opens.” Years ago, this was my mother’s plea. She always came to stay at the cottage in the spring to paint the apple blossom. She’s a talented water colour artist. In the autumn Mum cooked vast batches of apple puree and filled the freezer with small boxes, so we could enjoy apples throughout the winter months. It seemed a perfect circle. Things have changed since then. It was a weekend cottage for me and my mum stayed during the working week. A perfect dovetail for peple who need...

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