The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Flowers from the garden: May 2009

Posted in Flowers | 9 comments

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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Wonderful tulips: Queen of the Night

Posted in Discoveries, Flowers | 10 comments

Wonderful tulips: Queen of the Night

When I first moved to the cottage I planted Queen of the Night tulips with scented white irises beside the new pond – the combination looked stunning but they petered out when the yew hedges grew large. The hedges are great for making compartments and adding structure to a garden but they also create dry shady areas on one side and on the other side very dry sunny areas if you have a south west facing garden like us. But a challenge is often a good thing. You are forced to think around the box, rather than just outside it. We have a vast pot...

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Early May in our garden

Posted in General care | 3 comments

Early May in our garden

“I’m expecting something to break through by Monday.” “You may have a sporting chance!” Danny glanced at John Coe’s rows of potatoes bursting through the earth. “I don’t want to win the challenge. I just want loads of spuds. I’m worried that John’s rows don’t have the contents of the composter and mine do.” “I sprinkled sulphate of potash on his rows. Perhaps the compost is too high in nitrogen to be good for your potatoes. The main thing is the watering. Don’t you remember the farm shop near Bury? They didn’t...

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Flowers from the garden: May 2008

Posted in Flowers | 5 comments

Flowers from the garden: May 2008

I used to leave this post until the end of each month, hoping that there will be more plants in flower. Then I would cram as many different flowers as I could find into a vase. A large mixed bunch is a joy but sometimes a simple combination just works well. When I saw my favourite rose coming into flower and the cornflowers beneath it, I just had to pick them both. A perfect summery pairing. Our Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ has hovered on the verge of flowering since late January. May is the month when it is at its best and should burst...

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Species tulips

Posted in Flowers | 2 comments

Species tulips

It was at Carol’s house that I first noticed a Species tulip. At midday the small flower had opened like a star. The leaves indicated that it was a tulip but this was a tulip with a difference. At the end of the day when the sun was going down and I was heading for Jalopy, I took a small diversion to look at it again. The petals had closed. I crept away. I like flowers that change during the day. They seem even more alive. That autumn I bought two packs of Species tulips and planted them in two low stone pots. The squirrel was clearly...

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Flowers from the garden: May

Posted in Flowers | 7 comments

Flowers from the garden: May

It seems longer than four months since I last bought flowers for the house. I’m still finding it hard to keep my vow not to buy any for a whole year. For the last couple of weeks we’ve had no flowers indoors, from the garden or anywhere else. I’ve been returning from work too late to drift into the garden with my secateur. And, I suppose in a way I had lost heart. Last weekend I visited one of my favourite private flower stands (on Duchess Drive, Newmarket). I had surreptitiously spotted that they were selling Sweet Peas a...

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Old roses: Rugosa Rose. Rosa Roseraie de L’Hay

Posted in Flowers | 5 comments

Old roses: Rugosa Rose. Rosa Roseraie de L’Hay

We are lucky that our garden is big enough to let some of our old roses grow into large tree like shrubs. This rose is about seven feet tall and ranges across the width of a six foot border. It is one of the old roses that I bought from Sagger’s nursery garden in Newport, Essex. I wanted to plant old varieties of roses but knew very little about these. Roger Sagger is a great guy to turn to for advice. He took a lot of time to find the perfect rose for each aspect. Fifteen years later the roses have matured from the six inch sticklike...

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