The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


From Versailles to vegetables

Posted in Vegetables | 9 comments

From Versailles to vegetables

I will never forget the eyes of a garden centre owner swelling like organ stops when he heard me chatting to Seraphina and referring to a part of my garden as the ‘Versailles section’. I had designed a forty foot rose walk, a broad path where two could walk abreast and enjoy the scent of old roses in deep borders either side. A sort of scaled down semi formal vista that you might find in any old European garden. I have no idea why I thought of Versailles. Perhaps it was an old echo of the Moberly-Jourdain incident. This was many years ago...

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Old Roses: Rosa Complicata

Posted in Flowers | 6 comments

Old Roses: Rosa Complicata

Many years ago I worked in a London Day Centre for mentally ill adults. One day a pretty Maltese lady looked troubled. When I asked her what was wrong she replied, “I am feeling,” she jutted her chin as she searched for the right word, “. . complex.” Sometimes I too feel complex and Rosa Complicata is the perfect antidote. This is one of my favourite roses in the garden. I love the name and the simplicity of the flowers. It’s like a child with large clear eyes. One of my duties at the Day Centre was to organise...

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Old roses: Rosa Rambling Rector. (1910, unknown breeder(s))

Posted in Flowers | 8 comments

Old roses: Rosa Rambling Rector.  (1910, unknown breeder(s))

This gorgeous frothy rose makes the biggest impact of all the roses in our garden. We open the back door to find it spilling over the first half of the herbaceous border. It has climbed into the plum trees in the garden next door and splashes over the shrubs below like a floral Niagara. It flowers throughout June. For a whole month we savour it from the first buds to the last few handfuls of flowers. “We ought to have our summer party in June.” Danny declares each year. But we never do. The cottage is small, so big parties take...

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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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Old roses: Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

Posted in Featured, Flowers | 19 comments

Old roses: Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

I planted this beautiful rose beside the front door fifteen years ago, following the advice of Saggers nursery in Newport, Essex. Saggers give really good advice. In fact most of the best plants and stunning shrubs in our garden come from them. Being privately owned they are a good bet compared to the more commercial local nursery gardens. This is Rosa Banksiae ‘Lutea’, a rambling rose that does not drop its leaves in winter in this part of the world. It’s also virtually thornless and the clusters of small double petalled...

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