The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Autumn flowering perennials

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 0 comments

Autumn flowering perennials

My mum always says that the best gardens have a decent show of flowers in September. Walking around the garden last week, most of my autumn flowers are just on the cusp of bursting into flower. There was very little to see apart from pink Japanese anemones and white Michaelmas daisies. This morning I looked a little more closely and saw blue flowers on the plumbago, evening primroses, cosmos and sedums. I was thrilled to find that our first delicate autumn crocus has emerged. With the prospect of not buying flowers for the house, I have been...

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Black Monday: Box Blight

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 13 comments

Black Monday: Box Blight

Every now and then my sister Sara and I treat ourselves to a deluxe garden tour. I don’t know how we discovered Border Lines but found that we liked them. The tours suited us. Every now and then when we are feeling flush, we embark on another adventure. The best garden tours seem pricey but having visited three amazing gardens in one day and enjoyed an excellent lunch, the Border Lines tours seem wonderful value. The memories stay with you for years afterwards. We first started garden touring about fifteen years ago. A high points were...

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The round border

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 5 comments

The round border

In the first part of the garden we have a round border, surrounded by a mature box hedge. As this is visible from the sitting room window and fairly near the house, I took my mum’s advice and planted the beautiful hybrid Hamamelis intermedia “Pallida”. Bred from the regular Hamamelis Mollis (Chinese witch hazel), ours flowered in January. Small spider like, sulphur yellow flowers clustered close to the branches. The scent was delicate and sweet. We loved it. But in the summer the leaves looked rough and...

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A secret garden

Posted in Flowers, Plants and Bulbs | 10 comments

A secret garden

There is a plant stand in Fordham, Cambridgeshire. Bang opposite Scotsdale’s Nursery Garden. It could easily be overlooked after visiting the largesse of the nursery garden. That would be a shame because it’s packed with cuttings and baby plants from a wonderful garden. I started buying plants from the stand (40p each or three for £1.00) about a year ago. I became a regular. The photo is of a small border that I planted with bounty from this stand. Everything has flourished. Every time that I visit the nursery garden, I cross the...

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Germinate seeds fast with an electric propagator

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 20 comments

Germinate seeds fast with an electric propagator

I’m determined to set some of my seeds tomorrow. I have a small electric seed propagator, the cheapest one from Homebase. It has no thermostat nor any bells and whistles. Over the past three years, this willing donkey has germinated hundreds of seeds and has become an old friend. Admittedly I am not asking him to germinate really crusty coated seeds, such as those from the palm plant. But C.P. (Cheap Propagator) has our future in his warm embrace. He is perfect for germinating tomato, sweetcorn and cucumber seeds. An electric propagator...

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Country Value seeds from Netto

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 31 comments

Country Value seeds from Netto

Last weekend I breezed into Netto, the budget supermarket, to stock up on tinned sardines. Danny and the Min Pins love these and at 25p a tin, they’re a bargain. Quite often Netto sells plants for the garden. Two years ago I bought a gooseberry bush from them for £1.99. I thought I was buying an ordinary green gooseberry bush, as the box was just marked ˜Gooseberry’. I was thrilled when I discovered that it was a rather special red dessert gooseberry bush. Dessert gooseberries make an excellent liqueur. Since then I have kept my...

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Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

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Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

Finally the amaryllis that I bought just after New Years Day is flowering. We’ve had a lot of fun watching this giant gradually produce three thick stems with heavy buds. The stalks are well over two feet. This particular bulb guaranteed three flower spikes. I potted it up in normal potting compost in an eight inch pot. Within days the first two buds emerged. The third took a while to appear but is now catching up fast and now we have the promised three. The first bud has gradually unfurled over last two days. Here’s the flower. We...

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Jasmine Hoop (Jasminum polyanthum)

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 2 comments

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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