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Sat Jun 29, 2019, 09:59 AM

Oh, the best laid plans

The new house had a nice level small front yard, so I decided a cottage garden was just the thing. Very British. Casual, unstudied elegance. Low maintenance.

So I had a picket fence and an arbor installed and got to work. I decided to limit flower colors to white, blue, yellow, and pink. After the garden was established, I told myself, I would have nothing to do but pull the occasional weed and sit back and admire my perfectly coordinated cottage garden.

Hah!

As it turns out, unstudied elegance is a lot of work and Iím spending many sweaty hours out there planting, weeding, mulching, and replanting. Did you know many classic English cottage garden flowers expire in hot, humid American climates? Yeah, donít even think of delphiniums unless you happen to live in the Pacific Northwest. And I was definitely noticing this morning that my carefully planned color scheme has gone to hell. Tomato pink yarrow is flanked by Barbie pink portulaca. That pale peach rose is distinctly bright orange. The lemon yellow coreopsis is more taxicab yellow. Those phlox described as blue are actually magenta. The supposedly pink State Fair zinnias bloomed bright red. At least I have a riot of color.

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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Oh, the best laid plans (Original post)
spinbaby Jun 2019 OP
elleng Jun 2019 #1
WhiteTara Jun 2019 #2
lark Jun 2019 #3
spinbaby Jun 2019 #4
lark Jun 2019 #5
WhiteTara Jun 2019 #7
Phoenix61 Jun 2019 #6
spinbaby Jun 2019 #8
Phoenix61 Jun 2019 #9
spinbaby Jun 2019 #11
Phoenix61 Jun 2019 #12
The Velveteen Ocelot Jun 2019 #10

Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 10:14 AM

1. Sounds like you unplanned colors are lovely!

My 'unplanned,' 2 rose bushes in large containers, have been defeated by squirrels! So forget flowers for ME (this year anyway.)

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 10:17 AM

2. Gardening is definitely a study in patience and flexibility

The Earth seems to choose and we have to bend to her will. I've been gardening for all my life and every house has had something different. This house has a one acre garden behind a deer fence (that has since gotten some holes) and I planned a walking garden that would meander through garden rock beds with chairs and benches scattered through out. No one told me that gardening in the Ozarks consists of mowing mowing mowing. I've been trying to kill grass ever since we got here, but it is so pervasive that I'm now solarizing one bed to try and kill some of the grass that crept under the 20 year weed barrier mat and took over the entire bed. I'm turning it in the fall and then will cover it again until next spring and hope there will be space for veggies.

But one thing I did discover, natives are the best for your garden. They survive where the lovely exotics are just expensive experiments. Good luck and keep adding to mix and in time, it will look like that cottage garden, but with local flowers.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 10:55 AM

3. Gardening is an extremely hot and sweaty endeavor here in NE FL. but rewarding.

You have to hydrate first and bring a big jug of ice water with you, wear a hat, sunglasses & gloves and the lightest clothes that can get grubby. Then you go out and sweat up a storm, even in the early part of the day, and you work in the shade. I live in what was an old growth oak forest and we have tons of stickery vines that just take over. They grow up around the roots of trees and the old ones are impossible to get out because they have a "corn" that the roots grow out of that gets really really deep and the plant isn't all the way dead until this is removed. Now we have stupid kudzu that showed up a few years ago and requires constant battling or it just covers everything up. So, since I love flowers, I am outside doing the above a lot. Lucky, when we moved back 30 years ago, my mom and sister gave me plants from their years so I have tons of elephant ears, ginger & variegated ginger, 4 O'Clocks (did have red and yellow but am down to just yellow now), calla lilies, and large azaleas patches. We've filled in with ferns, split leaf philodendrons, caladiums & hydrangeas. These are all native to this area and grow great here. They die back some during th winter but always come back. We've added some hibiscus, crotons and a poinsettia, but those are more tender and we have to cover them up occasionally since it does freeze some during the winter, but not nearly as much as it used to since global warming is taking over. It pays off when I drive up and see my pretty yard and when I sit on the back deck in the evening and look at our beautiful oaks trees & all the flowers and feel at peace.

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Response to lark (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 11:18 AM

4. Four o'clocks!

Iíd completely forgotten about those. Iím going to see if I can find some seed this afternoon.

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Response to spinbaby (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 11:31 AM

5. They are great for places with lots of shade & nothing else grows.

The thing is they can get enormous and take over a space & crowd out other plants. One great point for them, humming birds and bees love the red ones! Thats why we keep great big patches of these in our yard, even though we usually have to trim them because they will overgrow the driveway by the end of the summer. Hope they grow great for you too. Just so you know, they do die during the winter, but cut them down to near the ground and they will come back every spring.

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Response to lark (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 12:37 PM

7. You are so right.

It is very dirty sweaty hard work and then sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't. You pretty much ran through the prep for gardening here in Arkansas. We are definitely a sweaty place with lots of bugs - bugs I couldn't imagine existing living right here! And I got some mulch from the county a few years ago and it brought in vetch which is now covering everything! Yes, it's hard but indeed rewarding. I call it earth sculpting since I have no real artistic talents.

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 12:17 PM

6. I used to have a lot of shade but

Hurricane Michael made it all go away. There are a lot of plants that say full sun but itís a lie so itís been a lot of hit or miss. I recently discovered coconut coir and that has definitely helped. The soil is so sandy I swear plants dry out while youíre watering them but the coir holds the water.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 12:37 PM

8. Lots of organic matter does the trick

I have heavy clay soil here, but one thing Iíve learned over the years is that every soil benefits from compost and mulch. Do you mulch with coconut coir? My only experience with it is to line planters.

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Response to spinbaby (Reply #8)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 05:19 PM

9. I add it to the soil along with mushroom mulch.

It comes in blocks you add water to until it stops expanding then mix with soil. Itís cheap and lasts a long time.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #9)

Sun Jun 30, 2019, 01:33 PM

11. I looked it up

Iíve only encountered the flat mats of coconut coir and was unaware that you can buy it pulverized in blocks as a soul amenity. I donít think they sell it around here.

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Response to spinbaby (Reply #11)

Sun Jun 30, 2019, 06:38 PM

12. Check Lowe's and HD in the spring.

Itís used to start seeds. I got it on-line from a green house supply site.

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Sat Jun 29, 2019, 06:08 PM

10. My attitude toward gardening is pretty Darwinian.

I try to plant stuff that I don't think will die, but if I've planted it in a good place and provided enough water and it dies anyhow, so it goes. My garden is my whole yard (got rid of my turf grass several years ago), and it pretty well manages itself because most of the plants are native and are able to crowd out the weeds. I do have to stay on top of a few invasives like creeping bellflower and Asiatic dayflower, but I've let the wild ginger, joe-pye weed, echinacea, monarda and solomon's-seal grow pretty much where they want to. In a couple more weeks it will be colorful and full of happy bees.

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