The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

My Dream Farm got me focused and back on track


Photo: September in the old kitchen garden

Photo: September kitchen garden

Wow. I’ve just been watching last night’s episode of Monty Don’s “My Dream Farm.” Thank you Peter for tipping me off about this. Although we stopped watching telly regularly a few years ago, I can catch up on my laptop – as I’m usually asleep by eight at night! The programme was inspiring and I realised that even a little gate side stand could potentially become the heart of a new business. I also recognised that I’ve been treating ours as a bit of a hobby.

I had been planning to sell the flowers in bunches of five for 50p – like the old lady who sells flowers in Duchess Drive. Now I realise that creating exquisite bunches would be much more fun and a bit more lucrative. I spent the day thinking about my USP and taking a long hard look at the future.

It was a sunny warm day yesterday so I was out in the garden for an hour in the afternoon. I’m planning quite dramatic changes to our herbaceous borders.  I ordered some more rock dust to condition the soil and plan to overhaul and extend the borders to give me a bit more space for growing flowers.

I also twigged that I need to work out my vegetable and flower planting very carefully indeed if I am going to fit everything in. We are now looking at the front garden. There is loads of space there as the cottage is well set back from the road and we could be using some of that space for growing stuff. Our vegetable patch is sunny in the afternoons but this space has sun from eleven in the morning.

Monty Don’s programme was the inspiration that I needed. I’m working on a planting plan for the kitchen garden and now I’m going to work on a plan for the herbaceous borders and the pond garden too. Suddenly I feel focussed and excited about the future. I’m finally flying the plane rather than being on auto pilot.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Fritz

    Welcome to the blog!

    Thank you so much for the positive feedback. I’m excited about this project.

    Hello Rosa

    Good point! And we have lots of ivy so thank you.

    I will keep my eyes peeled for teasles.

    Hi Suzie

    Thanks so much for these ideas. We have an enormous bay tree and rosemary too. In a couple of years our lavender will be big enough to harvest. How clever to mix them with shop flowers.

    I’m getting so many brilliant ideas. Thnak you.

  2. Sounds like you have a great plan Fiona. I wish I lived near enough to get my flowers from you. I haven’t mastered the art of growing useful things yet, though I do have lavender, rosemary and bay that more or less run wild, and I use sprigs and twigs of these to supplement bought flowers. It really makes a difference, and the scent is lovely, which is a bonus as so few shop bought flowers seem to be scented these days.

  3. Don’t forget the ivy! It might be a gardener’s nightmare (according to some), but may start earning its keep if hacking it back gives you posy ingredients. Thinking ahead, teasels look great in autumn/winter arrangements either plain, glittered or spray painted, and are often findable for free if you’re out for a walk in the countryside…

  4. Fritz Nordengren -

    Hello from across the pond. I really enjoy your site and this article and am seeking out the Monty’s Dream Farm shows on line.

    I love this line of yours:

    I’m finally flying the plane rather than being on auto pilot.

    A great inspiration to all. Thanks!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Lesley

    Brilliant. Thank you so much for the tip!

    Hi Magic Cochin

    I have quite a few shrubs in the garden that I could use. I also have various types of ferns. I must do a bit of research on grasses as I haven’t been very successful with these. Thanks for the tips.

    Hi Elizabeth

    I think that you are right. I never considered that I would ever be attempting to do this!

    BTW I had a John Bull printing outfit too. I loved it.

    Hi Paula

    Yes I want to go for a cottagey sort of look. Sometimes these sort of old fashioned flowers are for sale at our local supermarket but they are so expensive.

    Bad luck about your tree. We have a willow tree that is causing problems with the drains so it has to come down. This will open up a lot more space for us.

    Hello Louise

    Oh that’s good to know! I’m really excited about this project. We are planning to get more hens in the Spring to up egg production. Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Suky

    I need to get out my herbaceous gardening books! Thanks for your tips – much appreciated.

    Hi Captain Shagrat

    Great idea the sea holly! I like Monty Don too and am enjoying watching the series on my laptop.

    Hi Kate

    We are growing lots of herbs this year! And have well established sage and rosemary. Thanks – I wouldn’t have thought of using them. Must start thinking laterally!

    Hi Mandi

    Yes we do have space for more fruit trees – I must check out the Suttons site. We already have two ancient apple trees, a pear, a plum and a cherry tree, They are a joy.

    Hello Danast

    I thought the programme was great too. It taught me loads. If I can build a business by polishing up what we have it would be perfect.

    Hello Jane

    Thank you! I’ve checked it out on Amazon and have ordered a copy.

    Hi Mariam

    Yes I feel very focussed and excited about this project!

    Hi Toffeeapple

    Yes. Watching that programme was the inspiration that I needed.

    Hi Kelly

    You have a really interesting website! Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Cookie Girl

    That’s a great idea. Thank you.

  6. Cookie Girl

    I have eucalyptus in my garden which is great as foliage in flower arrangments – the best feature of it for me though is that it needs no maintenance other than a little pruning now and then .. so basically it’s free foliage with no work.. leaving more time for the flowers and the veg – what could be better ?

  7. Thanks for the tip – I’m really looking forward to seeing this program. I can use all the inspiration I can get and I’m nearly out of episodes of the Good Life to watch.

  8. Toffeeapple

    Good to know that you have your pilot’s helmet back on!

  9. It is so good to feel you are ready for the pilot seat ! Enthusiasm is the best medicine. Go, open your wings and fly.

  10. Jane Knight


    Sarah Raven’s “The cutting garden” is a brilliant book if you are planning to grow flowers for arrangements and bouquets.

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