Wednesday 30 April 2014

The lazy guide to a cottage garden - with Garden Nomey

At last, summer is on the way!  We all love spending time in our gardens, and while some are flourishing and bursting with blooms, others are not. If your garden is lacking in flowery loveliness (like mine was) do not despair! There is a quick and easy way of creating a beautiful cottage garden on a shoestring. Enter, the lovely Naomi, author of Garden Nomey blog! Naomi currently works for BBC Gardeners' World Magazine and writes a brilliant gardening blog, full of tips and advice on all things flowery.  I lured Naomi round with the promise of tea, cake and doggie cuddles (which she got) and around she came, armed with .... SEEDS!!! In a matter of weeks my garden will be transformed into a beautiful flowery haven, providing ole Mrs Miggins' cat Cliff Damien (!) doesn't have his way with it! and luckily for you, our green-fingered goddess Naomi is going to share her wisdom, and tell you how we did it!

JM x

 1. Planning your garden

When you’re planning your garden for the summer, it’s a good idea to fill space on as many levels as possible. Annuals (flowers that only bloom once) and perennials (flowers that come back every year) are perfect for planting in the ground and in pots, but you don’t want everything to be down on the floor. A cosy, mature cottage garden effect, is achieved by planting flowers, fruit and veg in hanging containers, window boxes and troughs, as well as in borders. I also like to include some quick-growing climbers to cover fences, sheds or walls. 

 2. Covering walls and adding height.

Jodie has a lovely raised border in full sun, which is retained by a railway sleeper and backed with a plain fence which we'd like to cover first. Having cleared and re-planted some of the strawberries that had previously run freely across the nicest, sunniest end of it, we now had the perfect spot for growing sweet peas and broad beans. Using mis-matched canes and old trellis gives a cottagey 'rustic' look

3. Combine height, food AND scent.

Broad beans and sweet peas are perfect for jazzing up a dull fence.  They’ll spiral around any supports – holding themselves up to a height of around six feet tall, all in the space of one summer. Best of all, they’ll provide a continuous supply of fresh broad beans and highly scented sweet pea flowers throughout summer.

4. Thrify and rustic ...

Cane supports are perfect for training climbing plants towards a fence. But really, anything similar will do. We used all the canes in the shed, and made up the numbers with odds and ends, like an old bit of trellis and some sticks. This gave an unexpectedly good ‘rustic’ look! We provided each plant with it’s own support, positioned at around 30cm apart. Once planted, we gave them a good water straight away to settle them in.

5. Choosing seeds for a cottage garden. 

With the beans and peas sorted, we moved on to our flowers seeds. Between us, we had a fair few packets, including old collected seeds. Choosing seeds can be overwhelming with so much choice available ... Cornflowers, Aquilegia, Daisies and Calendula were just a few cottage favourites we chose, as they were all suitable for full sun. We then chose Forget-me-nots and Wildflowers for our shady area. All these seeds can be sown directly in the ground between Feb and June,
though April is optimum time as there's still moisture around.

6. Where to plant your seeds!

When faced with lots of different seed varieties, it’s tempting to cavalierly scatter them everywhere. Though this produces a colourful result, it can end up being a bit of a mish-mash of rainbow hurl. Unless you use a ready-mixed theme of flower seeds, it’s best to create separate blocks, with each block featuring a different variety. These blocks of flowers should then be repeated around the garden for continuity.

7. Look at height and flowering times

Also bear in mind the height and flowering times of each variety. Put short varieties at the front of the border and taller ones towards the back.  Look on the seed packet – if it says it flowers between May-July, you may want to plant something next to it to pick up the slack from July onwards. Also sowing blocks in this way (see left) will create a lovely natural
 informal shape to the garden.

8. Sowing your flower seeds

The fun bit!! To help retain moisture, we added a shallow layer of compost to the soil surface first, in tessellating (jigsaw-like) shapes of drifts and triangles. Leaving a narrow gap in the compost between shapes means you can identify different planting groups and keep the varieties separate. We then scattered each variety onto the marked-out compost and labeled each one, (write on  lolipops!) finishing off by ruffling the seeds into the compost and giving them a good water.

9. For a super quick and easy wildflower garden

The best thing about sowing flowers direct is that it’s quick, easy and achieves beautiful, bee-friendly results. If time isn’t on your side, or you don’t have loads of flower seeds knocking around to use up, give flower seed mixes a try instead. They’ve had height and flowering times all taken into consideration for you, so you can just scatter away freely! 
Meadow in my garden make a fabulous range of wildflower mixes to suit all shapes and sizes of garden - including shady!

Enjoy yourself ....

and the lovely garden you are creating for yourself, the family, the birds and butterflies and combine ALL the above with lots of tea and cake breaks! x

PS. Follow Naomi's blog for gardening tips and advice, plus the latest news and products. 

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  1. I wanna live in your garden! Your dog is sooooooo cute xoxoxox

    1. Haha! Aw well you'd be very welcome too ... I could cosy up the shed for you?! the mouse that lives in there would be grateful for the company : )

  2. Nice to see that you have teamed up with Naomi. She's a star. Post a couple of photos later in the year to show how these planting ideas have developed.

    Keeping a single minded cat off the garden is a toughie. Try this natural alternative to commercial repellants: Spread some coffee grounds on the soil (keeps slugs away too) and cover the ground with rose clippings while the seedlings establish themselves. As a creature of habit, the cat will visit again but dislike the feel of the loose and prickly clippings under his feet. He should quickly get the message to plant his feline stink pods elsewhere

    1. Ooh thanks for that! fabulous tip, will try that! Yes she really is, and yes I'll definitely put some 'after' piccies up : ) can't wait!