Creating our cottage garden the 1 year anniversary. A full year of growing with our Rhino greenhouse and turning a neglected lawn into and garden. These last two seasons I’ve been spending time with my camera again, documenting the creation of our cottage garden, and here is a first-year update. Keeping on top of everything with our mental health intact has been a challenge these last two years and I finally feel a little more normal, but only a little.
As the World has crept back towards a more frantic pace, slowing down has felt more important than ever, and I try my best through small practices each day. Cups of tea away from any screens, snipping dead blooms for the compost heap, inhaling the scent of the sea and all the blooms that have blessed us with their presence, more books and less TV. I hope you’ll find a little peace and maybe some inspiration in these photos of our cottage garden and how it looks one year on.
After one full year of growing and gardening with our beautiful Rhino greenhouse, the 8 x 10ft glasshouse has become a refuge from life chaos, the perfect seed nurturing sanctuary, and a second home for Wallis. The cottage garden that surrounds it was mainly annuals last year so it was looking pretty bare over the winter months (hence no pictures after autumn). You can flick through last year’s posts here.
In late Autumn I planted some bare root roses and we tucked 950 bulbs all over the place. Then, in spring lots of self-seeded plants popped up. From a scant start to tumbling abundance, the garden has now filled out and fluffed up. I am such a softy when any self-seeded plants appear – all the effort that goes into germinating and sprouting leaves. I’ll admit I often let what shows up, dictate how the garden takes form, letting nature take the lead.
The photo below shows where we started last February and all the other images are from the beginning of April this year up until today. Being a ‘Cottage Garden’ we should really have a few more vegetables up this end of our space so I am hoping to replace some annual self-sown flowers (as they fade and leave space) with brassicas, beets, and winter herbs. On the herb front already, we have – parsley (curly and flat), Knotted Marjoram, lemon verbena, salad burnet, dill, fennel, coriander, thyme, and rosemary. Ooh and hopefully some saffron crocuses will re-appear in autumn too.
I planted most of our sweet peas up against the fence this spring and they have run wild all along the top of our baby hawthorn hedge. I planted the ‘Pandemonium’ variety in a gap in one of the borders altogether as they were my favourites last year. You’ll spot those on the hazel wigwam. I also planted a couple of leftover stragglers in a pot with some flat-leaf parsley and a (now dead) dahlia.
Spring started well with seeds and then creative work got fun and busy and everything spun a little out of control. some sense of order has now been regained (just about) and we have tomatoes, herbs, green beans, and cucumbers in both greenhouses. Not as many as last year but we are letting that go, and being kind to ourselves – hopefully keeping burnout at bay.
We always start with a loose plan and then that completely changes as I plant things wherever I feel they will be happy or wherever we have room. Picking up plants that look interesting on our travels adds to the foliage party and I have fun filling the gaps with what is at hand, it feels like painting the beds with flowers and leaves. Never knowing quite fully until all is revealed, what the effect will be.
One big change this spring was moving all the woodchips away from around the greenhouse and using them on the garden paths, then putting pea shingle in its place. Creating a lighter feel and a nice sound underfoot, it also stopped the foxes digging around in deep furrows for worms!
The roses and hedges are the bones, everything else changes and adapts throughout the seasons. Gradually, we will add more perennials but I will always love scattering annual seeds and seeing what appears. This year the stars have been field and annual scabious that are towering wildly but gently above everything else, the sweet pea hedge, the Erigeron karvinskianus|Mexican fleabane that is slowly seeding in every crack and abandoned pot, one apricot foxglove that survived the snails and the cheery calendulas that are here and there.
We planted out an olive tree that had been in a pot for way too long and underneath it scattered all the strawberries that were just a few plants in a box last year. I pegged down all the runners and they have gone quite wild. The strawberry move was always going to be temporary. I will dig them up and replant them in the vegetable garden after the fruiting season is over – adding protection as the birds have now eaten most of the berries. Hopefully, the olive will survive the winter rains and soggy soil (we added plenty of grit) and will flourish into a medium-sized tree that will add a dappling of shade to the area.
So, the (always) adaptable plan for the next growing season is more mixed planting of vegetables and herbs sown in amongst the flowers to keep this truly a cottage garden. More perennials, maybe a fruit tree or two, to add fruit canes in any gaps in the hedge for a little edible joy for us and the birds of course. Then we will grow indoor crops of kale and winter salads in the greenhouses to take us up until spring next year.
Wishing you a happy July, Jeska x