Monday, June 17, 2024

Cottage Garden Update: Third Year

Hello readers, welcome to my blog, Panoply. Today I'm going to virtually walk you through my cottage garden, sharing updates I've made since last fall. This is our third spring in this home. Since we moved here in October 2021, my main focus has been in overhauling an overgrown Zone 7a landscape. For comparison purposes, this May 2023 update is a really good place to see my changes up until this point. Then, in this December 2023 update, I recapped work completed last fall.
By mid-April, I was very excited for my Proven Winners (PW) mail order to arrive. This was my first time ordering plants online from PW (no sponsorship), and it won't be my last. I am very pleased!
Many of these were annuals I wanted to put in containers, but there were also perennials. I'll share most details within this post. You may want to get comfortable, lots of photos and information in this post! But before we go there, and just one day before those plants arrived, I had a few garden mishaps.
I was attempting to hand prune my boxwoods, and reached for the tall one to the left of the front door (see leading photo) with my left hand, and cut with my right. Ouch! I cut my left pinky finger. Next thing you know, I had a vasovagal reaction and fainted on the way to MedExpress, but recovered once there. I am prone to do this with medical events on myself (shots, blood drawn, tooth extractions, and now cuts). 

Adding insult to injury the next day, I knew I couldn't plant, so I started weeding. If you're a gardener, you know you just begin, and think, "oh, I'll just take five minutes", and then it's an hour or more later......I got poison ivy on that same hand, and also scratches from who knows what. From that point on, I used disposable gloves over the cut hand, and long garden gloves over top of those. Those disposables were left over from Covid, and I use them a LOT when weeding. In fact, I just bought my second box.

But once the stitches were out (actually before, but don't tell!), I planted my containers with the new PW annuals. I planted two of the coral blends for each side of the patio French doors, and two of the purple blends for either side of the garage door.
Patio containers
I added solar lights to each container shortly after, as seen at dusk in the top photos of the collage below. The bottom photos show how much these annuals have grown since planting. The purple fountain grass will have tall plumes later in summer and into fall.
After the accident, I ended up using a hedge trimmer for the boxwoods. That took several hours, otherwise I'd still be hand-pruning.๐Ÿ™„ There are eighteen total boxwoods, plus one large, round-shaped holly. I am still nurturing a few boxwoods, which you can see in the photo below, that are recovering from the December 2022 arctic blast.
I did replace two of the boxwoods in early April on the northside that just looked the worse for weather wear from December 2022. I planted two more Purple Gem rhododendrons (a hybrid azalea). I planted one in the bed adjacent to this one last year, and together they make a nice trio.
I bought my front annuals from my local Capitol Market because PW did not offer geraniums online, only in retail stores. I found the salmon color I wanted in mid-April and snagged them because I missed that opportunity last year and settled for a more red color.
Some of my spring blooms included five varieties of peonies.
A Jackmanii clematis in its second year (new trellis from Lowes), underplanted with two new PW hellebores.
My irises are thicker than ever, and a couple peach ones passed along to me two years ago finally bloomed this year. Other passalongs are the poppies, the two-tone clematis, the yellow evening primrose, and the love-in-a-mist (nigella). Magnus coneflowers are in their second year. Of five drift roses, I replaced one, but transplanted the one I replaced into another bed. It may or may not last another season. I've mistakenly labeled the drift roses as coral in past posts; they are actually apricot.
I currently have four varieties of hydrangeas, the newest ones being the smaller white ones you see in the collage below. The bottom right is a Bobo from PW, and behind it is another Bobo original to the property, which I have transplanted five times, I believe. A survivor, for sure!
Because my landscape size is small, I am trying to scale most new plantings accordingly, and look for dwarf varieties. When I spotted this newest, smallest dwarf variety - Tiny Quick Fire - early in June, I bought and planted it in a bare space at the front of the house. 
The back walkway of the property has two narrow beds, and the blooms are just now coming in: daisies, bee balm, day lilies (and ditch lilies), and soon I'll have crocosmia on the left side, where the coneflowers and nigella are.
On the northside, I planted two more from PW - bronze star cardinal flowers (lobelia speciosa), not yet blooming on each side of the statue. Other perennials in this include daylilies and coneflowers. The annuals are pentas and purple queen spiderwort.
If you notice, my book reader has his sunglasses on, but joining him to his left this year is the cutest little hummingbird swing I bought! I'm hoping with the lobelia and pentas the hummingbirds will visit this bed. Other garden art is pictured below, the newest being Mrs Powers tuteur. She needs a vine!
I could write an entire post on size and scale of landscape planning, but suffice it to say this garden was waaay overplanted originally. I did keep several plants, but I am learning a few may eventually either need divided, replaced with a smaller varieties of the same plant, or replaced with an entirely different plant.

Two cases in point: 1) St. John's Wort (Hypericum) in the top of the collage below. I thinned out old wood and trimmed heavily this year, but it is so large in the front of the house, I will likely have to trim during summer. I will try to prune to the ground next year in late winter. 2) Lilac. I pruned this plant with a heavy hand and it is out of bounds. I've got my eye on a Baby Kim Lilac.
Weigela is another plant, which I love, and mine (Wine and Roses) bloomed for the first time this year since we moved in (original to property, but pruned to the ground November 2021 and transplanted twice).
Turns out it's planted a little too close to two of my transplanted baptisia, so it may eventually either need transplanted or replaced with a dwarf variety such as Snippet Dark Pink.

Here's another example of size and scale in the photo below. The circled 'sticks' you see are my callicarpa (Early Amethyst beautyberry). I pruned it to just six inches in February, and it's already huge. It just may not be the right choice for my cottage garden. This entire southside bed is still a work in progress. I have ideas but likely won't act on any plan until next year.
I love all the plants I have kept from the original landscape, it's just a matter of size and scale (and visual appeal, of course). Even with plants that are marketed as dwarf, you need to pay attention to the max size and plan on it growing to at least that. The other three larger plants you see in the collage above are dwarf butterfly bushes (Pugster Blue), said to grow to only 2' tall and wide. They will surpass that.

One last thing before I close on my cottage garden update. My friends know me as a highly organized person. For the garden, I journal everything from rainfall to grass cuttings to plantings and transplantings. Here's something I did just recently to organize plant tags. On a separate carabiner clip for each year of planting, I have a ring for annual tags and a separate one for perennial tags, with dates planted. It's an extremely handy reference tool!
I think I'm finished planting for the 2024 season (after just receiving and putting four more small plants in the ground on the 12th). However, I've already got my eyes set on a couple plants that are sold out until next spring. Current plants have had time to settle in and flesh out with nice spring weather. Looking at the photo below, just to the left of the house, to the right of the round shrub (holly) is one area I have plans for. In the words of Taylor Swift, "I've got a blank space baby, and I'll write your name."๐Ÿ˜‰
PS - remember all the work and time I spent digging out lily-of-the valley last year from the bed above? I only found two stray rhizomes this year! I dug those bad boys out immediately and stuck them in a pot where they can't get out!

Below, summer garden views in evening. Here's hoping the hot spell this week (high in mid 90's, no rain expected before Sunday) doesn't fry my newest plantings. The water bill will be high, no doubt.
Thanks so much for your visit today. I'd love to hear your comments and feedback. If you do leave a comment, please let me know who you are if your name shows as anonymous. I try to answer my comments, and hope I can reach you by email. Otherwise, I will reply on this post.
Gardener in Training!
Happy gardening!

๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ’ฎ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒฟRita C. at Panoply๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ’ฎ๐ŸŒž
A special thanks to Suzanne from Pieced Pastimes Saturday Link Party #623 , to Julie from My Wee Abode Tuesday Turn About #258 , and to Beverly from Eclectic Red Barn's Thursday Favorite Things for featuring this post!




37 comments:

  1. Oh the post I’ve been waiting for! So love seeing how everything’s growing and your choices in your landscape. You should pat yourself on the back, with all your work and eradicating all the lily of the valley. Your mishap with your shears is not funny/funny with your facedown fainted doll. Those pruning shears are sharp and can be dangerous! I’ve cut myself before (not needing stitches) but my MIL required a trip to the ER, having barely missed a tendon in her forearm. Love the addition of your solar lights in your garden planters. I’ll have to keep PW in mind for spring planting next year. I couldn’t find the petunias I was looking for in my window boxes and the ones I settled for looked sick and scraggly mere weeks after they were planted. No fertilizer or pruning helped them…lesson learned to stick with what I was looking for. Love seeing Mrs. Powers, I have her in a pot of zinnias planted from seed. They were looking so healthy and promising, then the Japanese Beetles found them. I need to investigate some dwarf hydrangeas, I have a smaller area in need of something. I use your carabiner method of organizing plant tags, only with notebook rings, it works great! Love your sweet little gardener in training! Keep calm and water on, it’s gonna be a hot one this week. ♥

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    1. That is so interesting to me, Mary, about the Japanese Beetles eating your zinnias. I have been growing zinnias in northern Illinois and now west-central Illinois and have never seen a Japanese Beetle on them. I've taken out every species of bush that was in this yard that were covered in the beetles, even digging out every hollyhock that pops up. I think this is interesting...I didn't know that a certain plant species would attract them in one part of the country but not in another other part. May I ask if you are on the East Coast?

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    2. Mary lives in North Carolina, Ginene. A few years ago (mid Ohio) we had a nasty Japanese Beetles infestation, but were finally able to eradicate them.

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  2. You have such a lovely garden! My irises haven't bloomed this year and looks like they won't. I have an orange daylily that is now huge, in spite of my attempts to dig it up and get rid of it. The hydrangeas are doing well, though.

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  3. Rita, your garden looks beautiful and I loved seeing the front of your home in the first photo! I am so sorry about your gardening mishap. I can relate--I have the tendency to faint in similar situations! Have a lovely week!

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  4. Hi Rita, I really dug into this post and enjoyed it, except for the clippers incident and the poison Ivy, of course. I have those clippers and I've nipped myself a few times but never to that extent. I can really relate to the shaping of the boxwoods and the deadheading. Dead-heading the salvia and many other plants and bushes this year was a real pain. Stem by stem and saying to myself the whole time, "This is ridiculous." And then have to do it again soon! But, wow, does your yard look stunning. And, your new garden accessories! I love every one of them but the Mrs. Powers topiary is the best. That is really charming. I like the boxwood privacy living fence and that setting is just so perfect with the French doors. The whole house and yard are stunning. The landscaping is very professional and you've done a lot to be proud of. I'm happy that you found found this house. Hope you've got good neighbors. I have a neighbor who has 32 cats. I fenced in my vegetable garden this year, but two of the most beautiful cats belonging to the neighbor sit on the other side of the fence and watch me working. They are very sweet. I want to give them a treat, but I know better. I like PW plants, too. They are worth the slight additional cost because they are actually proven winners. It is going to be another scorcher here today and I need to go water the carrots. I am not crazy about carrots actually. I planted them and peas with visions of homemade chicken pot pies in the freezer next winter. Talk soon. ~Ginene

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  5. Rita, your hard work has paid off. I cannot believe it’s your third year. Kudos to you on all of your hard work. So sorry to hear about your garden mishaps. I have never heard of vasovagal. So sorry you experienced that. I have had my garden mishaps as well. From cutting my finger, poison oak, bee stings, tripping and falling to scratches from trimming palms. Your flowers look lovely. Such wonderful satisfaction looking at your progress. Your gardener is training is adorable. I am gearing up for 4 great-grandchildren this week.

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  6. Ha Ha I think you have proven that gardening is not for sissys. Accidents and poison ivy are out there. The great news is how beautiful you have made your outdoor space in such a short time. Everything is looking so beautiful. Hope you have a great new week. We are so so hot in the high 90's all week. Hugs. Kris

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  7. It was great to see your garden. Katie finished working on ours, and now it's just maintenance. It's not as glorious as yours, but it's ours, and it brings us joy. I hope everything will progress in the way you desire. I love your trellises and your statuary. Maybe we need to find something like that. It would be fun to see that in the garden amongst the flowers! Take care!

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  8. Everything looks absolutely fantastic. Your hard work has paid off…and I know it was hard work. Hope your finger has recovered. I switched a few years ago to more dwarf plants, and so far, it has proven to be a blessing. Especially if you are trying to give your plants some room. I love how you organize your plant tags….genius. I will be doing that from now on. Enjoy your gardens….and your day! ;)

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    1. Donna, thank you. I'm really enjoying the dwarf plantings, and hope I can eventually have a nice balance throughout.

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  9. What a beautiful garden, and such a cute gardener in training! I would love to have the links to the solar lights and the hummingbird swing as well as the Proven Winners flowers if possible. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Rita, I am so impressed with all of your hard work that is paying off in beautiful gardens! I am so sorry about you cutting your pinky, fainting, and stitches. Adding more injuries with the poison ivy is horrendous. The PW order is definitely a winner. I may try that myself. I love the addition of the solar lights. The opening front view of your cottage is stunning. Everything looks manicured to perfection. Wow to the Jackmanii clematis with all of those glorious purple blooms. My Crocosmia is about to bloom in time for the 4th of July.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed my walk about and seeing your progress with all the blood, sweat, and perhaps tears you have invested is truly amazing!! Happy gardening my friend and keep the updates coming!

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  11. Ouch! So sorry about the cut, but it sounds like it didn't slow you down much Rita! Everything looks beautiful, a true labor of love~ I had no idea you could order plants online, that is amazing! I love the variety of flowers and plants you chose and do admire your dedication and hard work. As much as I love flowers, gardening is just not my thing, I would rathe paint them than plant them ๐Ÿ˜‚ Your gardener in training is adorable!
    Jenna

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  12. Oh Rita, I'm sure you felt you'd gotten off to a bad start with the pinkie injury but you certainly made up for it. I think your garden is really coming into its own after all the planning and hard work. I've never ordered plants but that's maybe an easier way to get started in the spring. I do look forward to visiting my garden centers for my plants. The boxwood are beautiful, always my favorites. Love your little helper, I'm sure she's going to love gardening like her grandmother. Everything is lovely Rita, well done!

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  13. Everything looks just amazing! With the stitches, the poison ivy and everything you really are a tough gardener ! You’ve put in a tremendous amount of hard work and gorgeous color.
    I’ve not had a spare minute to blog about mine but my back says I’ve been working hard! ๐Ÿ˜‚
    Christine
    Rustic-refined.com

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  14. Rita, Your garden is gorgeous! I'm sorry you got injured while pruning the hedges. I usually have to run from wasps (but they win anyway) or trip over the natural stone border! Ending up in the urgent care is no fun! I try to wear brightly colored gloves as it helps you know where your fingers are, if you can see them, while working on your project. It's good to know PW mail order plants are available and thrive when properly planted. Lowe's has gotten ridiculous! I may try some PW next year. I know they will still be pricey because everything is after COVID, but I like the option of not having to go in search of plants I want. Your landscaping talent is marvelous! Your yard looks so pretty. Everything is to scale and there are so many beautiful colors and plants. You have transformed the overgrown yard you started with into yard of the month! Just watch those pruning shears in the future! We want you safe and with all your fingers. Thanks for sharing your talents with us. Happy Monday! Clara❤️

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  15. Goodness you’ve been a busy one! Love all of your chosen plants. You've done a great job with everything. Love the color of the geraniums! Everything is beautiful!

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    1. From Liz @ Home and Gardening With Liz

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  16. Rita, Your flowers and garden look beautiful. We did a lot when we were younger, but it’s too hard now. All the annuals are planted in containers. I’m so sorry about your mishap with the pruner and the poison ivy. I’d never heard of that condition before. Sorry you have to deal with that, on top of your actual mishap. And your last photos of your granddaughter is just so precious. A new wanna-be-gardener!

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  17. You have the sweetest cottage home, Rita! And wow, have you ever been busy! Your gardens and containers look wonderful! I am so sorry for your injury! How scary!!! And poison ivy - oh I am sorry. When I get it I am so highly allergic, too. Hope you are healing well. You are such a trooper!

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  18. Rita- I love a garden tour, and you shared a great one with us. Sorry about the mishaps! Glad you are doing better and enjoying the garden.

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  19. You have done an amazing job Rita....what a beautiful improvement and your house should be in a magazine....so sorry about your cut and stitches. I dropped a pair of shears once and they landed point down in the middle of my foot, next to my toes. I know... I should have been wearing shoes! Hindsight is always 20/20. Please keep going with the progress made as it inspires us all. I love all your statuary, might have to find me a Mrs. Powers. Beautiful gardens my friend.

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  20. Your garden is looking lovely, Rita, and really shows all your hard work. You've also shown how tough gardeners are working through your injuries when you were probably not supposed to be gardening. When there are plants to plants gardeners have to plant them LOL Summer has arrived here in South Carolina and the days are hot and humid. So watering every day is essential right now. Here I garden in jeans, heavy socks and long sleeves as well as heavy garden gloves. You never know what's out in the garden. Love the many colors your flowers display. Year three is a definite success. Thanks for making us a part of your garden journey.
    Lynne

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  21. I always love seeing progress in your garden, Rita, but can’t believe it’s been three years already. Oh my, I felt so badly about your cut and fainting spell and then poison ivy! Aye yi yi! My poor daughter had laid 120 bags of mulch. She can’t get rid of her poison ivy but sure hopes her house sells quickly. It’s so much for her to maintain without help.
    Thank you for your beautiful tour!
    P. S. Your gardening helper is adorable!

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  22. You have been a busy beaver, new friend! I have never purchased live plants online before but now I just might! Thanks for the tips! Your gardens are gorgeous.
    I am so sorry you were injured along with a fainting spell. Oh my. Then poison ivy on top of that. Good grief.
    Thanks for the Garden Journey tour and thanks for also commenting on my blog posts! How kind of you. Happy Gardening!

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  23. Good grief, girl! You are intrepid! The hospital, poison ivy, stitches... don't add heat stroke to that (I could see how easily that might happen!). But it's really fabulous. And you've been busy and I'm sure exhausted. But the hard work shows. And it is never done, is it? The tour is the best. (If you ever come to Lansing, don't come to my house or you'll pass out from garden horror! We'll meet elsewhere!)

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  24. Oh wow such an awesome garden and all the work you have done - fantastic.
    I visited you via Farmhouse Friday Link Party. My entries this week are numbered #52+53
    Please join and share your posts with us https://esmesalon.com/tag/seniorsalonpitstop/

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  25. Rita, your home and garden are just so gorgeous; I really admire your hard work and diligence on bringing your yard to the level you have. It's stunning. I'm so sorry you had such a mishap, and then the rest of the fun. It's impossible to keep you down! So much needs to be done here, but it's just not in me like before. Good thing our house sits far back from the street so passers by can't see too close. Your front patio area is amazing!!

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  26. Your landscaping looks amazing. Your boxwoods look really great. I have had my boxwoods for a couple of years and they are not looking good at all. I wish I had your green thumb!

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  27. I can't believe you cut yourself and had to get stitches. You make gardening dangerous! But I love seeing the updates: Your garden is so pretty! I love your way of organizing and storing what you've planted: Brilliant idea! I will definitely do that. You have worked so hard, and it shows. Oh, and I love the lights in the planters...they are too, too cute!

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  28. I read through the whole post and love it, Rita! Love the hydrangeas and peonies, especially! Pinned, and thank you for sharing at Tuesday Turn About. I'm delighted to be featuring you at this week's party!

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  29. Rita I am going to feature this post on next week's Friday Favorites. So much good info such as PW! You truly have a green thumb and I am so sorry about your red pinky. :)

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  30. Rita,
    Wow, I love all of your flowers and gardens. Congratulations, you are being featured on Thursday Favorite Things. https://www.eclecticredbarn.com/2024/06/gardens-of-flowers-on-tft.html
    Hugs,
    Bev

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  31. Oh my goodness Rita! Yikes, so happy you are doing okay, a cut, stitches and poison ivy...that's not fun. But you are a warrior gardener! Your home and garden look just gorgeous. Your hard work is paying off in beautiful gardens! I have never ordered direct from PW but may try that soon, too. Your Jackmanii clematis with all of those beautiful purple blooms is a stunner.

    Thank you so much, I have so enjoyed a walk in your garden! Happy gardening, friend and keep loving your plants and garden, and sharing it with all of us. You have created such a spot with natural beauty. xo Happy July! xo Lidy

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  32. Rita, your garden is beautiful! Your house is beautiful! I can't imagine how you lived in that loft after seeing what a wonderful job with your new home! Thanks so much for sharing, and no more stitches and poison ivy lady!!

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