He who plants a garden, plants happiness…


.. a proverb from around the world somewhere, can’t remember which country, but the words always stick in my head.

I am happy when I am gardening, even when it rains, because I know that the raindrops are like my Friday night Gin & Tonic to plants that have been baking in the sun.. cool and refreshing!

My favourite style of garden is the natural prettiness of a cottage garden.  I grew up in a cottage with a garden that had apple trees, a pond and little secluded areas where the cats used to curl up in the sun.  Then I worked for the National Trust for Scotland in a garden that I still dream of returning to one day at Kellie Castle.

The walled garden at Kellie Castle had huge herbaceaous beds, mixed in with neat rows of vegetables, areas of lawn and pathways separated with trellises that were covered in Clematis and climbing roses.  This is a garden I truly fell head over heels in love with!

If I had a garden (I only have a little yard) it would be a mini version of Kellie, but saying that, you don’t need a massive walled garden to create a little piece of this herbaceous heaven.

Anyone coming down to Tynwald Mills, do pop into the Garden Centre and see our little ‘Mini-Garden’, created to show you what sort of plants work best in a cottage garden and a few tips of how to get the look.

Principles of a cottage garden:

  • Plant in groups or drifts, rather than rows, for a more natural effect.
  • Use paths, seats and hard landscaping to break up areas of planting, but let the plants overflow the edges to soften it.
  • Allow flowers to self seed each year to create natural drifts of flowers.  Just weed out what you don’t want.  Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not) is one of my favourites.
  • Use groundcover plants such as Pulmonaria, in between shrubs to help keep weeds down
  • Recycle old pots, crates and other second hand items to break up the planting and add a splash of colour
  • Mix climbers, such as Clematis, Roses and Sweet peas on the same trellis to create a long lasting display of colour and height
  • Water features will attract wildlife such as birds, and frogs
  • Why have a separate bed for your vegetables?  Some veggies will actually benefit from being grown within your flowers and other plants, so mix them up together!
  • Grow flowers that are good for cuting (some of my favourites include Tanecetum, Gladioli, Delphiniums, Stocks and Sweet peas….) so that you can take a bit of the garden in to your cottage.. or semi-detached!

The thing I love most about any garden, is how it naturally evolves each year.  Herbaceous plants can be divided at the end of the year and replanted in new locations, or given to friends for their gardens, and the weather always plays a part in how well your favourite Rose bush or apple tree is going to perform.

So what are you waiting for?  The weather forecast for the next couple of days is sunny (on the Isle of Man anyway), so get your shorts and suncream on and get out in your garden!

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