Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 4

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) for flower borders

If you love charm over elegance, profusion over minimalism, natural haphazardness over control and order, the chances are that you love the cottage garden style.

Read: Style Guide – Cottage Gardens Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Annuals and Self-Seeders

Cottage gardens are all about abundance of planting and random drifts of colour. Ground covering plants weave through the planting, spilling over border edges and stitching everything together. In the same way, scattering the seeds of annuals amongst the permanent planting will plug any gaps and contribute to the random charm of the design.

Annuals are plants which germinate, flower and set seed all in one year. They die after flowering, but many will helpfully self-seed leaving a...

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Blackberry Days

Blackberries

Last night, as dusk was falling, I took the dog for a walk across the fields. The intense heat of the day had mellowed to balmy warmth, a gentle breeze drifting across from the estuary.

The scorching Indian summer is confusing the seasons. It feels like a glorious day in the heat of summer, yet the fields are harvested, the leaves are turning and the hedges dripping with dusky sloes and jewel-like blackberries. My two columnar pear trees, Beurré Hardy and Doyenné du Comice, are heavy with fruit. The step-over is keeping the family supplied with crisp, yellow-red Falstaff apples.

It’s tempting to head off to the seaside to take advantage of this late offering of sunshine. Or pull out...

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A Good Year for Pears

Weatherstaff Harvest Pyrus Doyenne du Commice

The BBC reported that Herefordshire Perry cider makers were suffering this year from a poor pear harvest. Not so in my garden, I’m delighted to report. After 6 years of divvying up a solitary pear amongst our family of five, for the very first time I am hunting out cunning new recipes for enjoying our pear harvest.

I wouldn’t go so far as to report a glut of pears. What we have is one of those vertical, column-trained trees, carrying fruit along its single upright stem. Actually, we have two of these – one Beurré Hardy and one Doyenné du Comice – planted over half a decade ago and spectacularly failing to keep us supplied with pears – until...

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