async defer src="//" My Enchanting Cottage Garden: February 2014

About Me

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Gardening is my middle name. I have been an avid gardener for 50 years.  My goal is to help anyone who wants to start a Cottage Garden, be able to do so without the expense and frustration of beginning gardeners. I hope to encourage readers to share their thoughts and experience and help make this blog a knowledgeable and fun read.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to Snazzy Your Spring Containers

 3af5da2a6e927f78732d2e27f862d126  Colorful Spring container plantings celebrate the start of the gardening season. Music to our ears, eh?  The ground may still be too cold in some areas to plant, but you can always throw some spring flowers in a container and snazz up your walkway or porch. It will definitely warm your heart and soul to see something blooming after a long cold winter.I will share a few good container tips and pictures to get you off and running to the nearest  gardening center.


Remember Fragrance


The best container gardens don't just look good -- they smell great, too. Incorporate a few fragrant plants into your containers and be sure to site them where you can enjoy them. For example,  dianthus, stock, hyacinth, mini roses, and a few small herbs such as creeping thyme., and don’t forget to place it close to  your sitting area so all can enjoy the fragrance.


Prolong the life of your Blooms


Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are bellwethers of spring. Prolong the life of your bulbs by purchasing plants with tightly closed buds. The buds will open in a few days and color your container for two or more weeks.


Create Drama with Color


Bright colors are especially refreshing after a long, dull winter. Here, bold pink containers feature favorites such as silvery licorice plant (Helichrysum 'Icicles'), pink 'Little Charmer' diascia, and 'Intensia Neon Pink' annual phlox, and the golden foliage of foamy bells (x Heucherella 'Stoplight').
Hint: When using bold containers, make sure your plants are dramatic enough to hold their own so they don't get overshadowed by the pots.

Go with Groups


One well-planted container looks great on its own, but a grouping can be stunning. Here, a colorful mix of pansies, violas, lobelia, stock, and kale creates lots of interest. Use them by a doorway, next to a path, or to add cheer to bare spots in your spring garden.
Hint: Use three different sizes of the same kind of container to give the arrangement a more put-together look.

Contrast Colors

Use pink to wake up your landscape once winter passes. Here, a pastel container holds pink petunnias and blue pansies. All that pink contrasts beautifully with purple from 'Berries & Cream Sachet' nemesia, 'Caitlin's Giant' ajuga, and columbine.
Hint: Echo the color of your house in your container garden, or use it to complement blooms from your yard for extra appeal.

 Layering Pansies


A gorgeous spring container garden doesn't have to be complicated. Here, a variety of pansies and violas add charm and color to a strawberry jar. Use a mix of colors for a flamboyant look, or limit your pansies to one color for a more elegant, soothing presentation.
Hint: Once summer heat arrives and the pansies start to fade, replace them with herbs or small annuals that don't mind the warm weather.

 Make Heavenly Hanging Baskets

hanging basket

One great thing about spring is that moss-lined baskets and other containers don't dry out as fast -- so you don't have to water them as much. Here, a basket is filled with favorites including purple coralbells and yellow osteospermum and snapdragon. A mix of sweet alyssum and creeping Jenny cascades down the sides. As they get going, they'll eventually cover up the moss.
Hint: Other trailing plants for spring include lobelia, diascia, and bacopa (Sutera).


Enjoy Edibles

lettuce and pansies

While it's easy to focus on ornamental favorites, edibles work just as well. A mix of spring greens will provide salads while looking great in the landscape. Accent both the container and your salads with the cheerful and tasty viola blooms. Here, chives tossed in the middle of the pot create a fun textural contrast.
Hint: Try the full range of spring greens, including spinach, kale, and red, green, and bicolored lettuce.

 Incorporate Perennials

perennials in spring containers

Don't be afraid to incorporate perennials into your spring containers. Then plant the perennials in your garden once the annuals start to fade. Here, for example, bacopa, purple pansy, white nemesia, and yellow strawflower mix well with 'Fire and Ice' hosta.
Hint: Growing hostas and other perennials in tall containers can help protect them from hungry rabbits early in the season.


Monday, February 24, 2014

New Roses for Your Spring Garden

As a gardener and blog writer this is the most exciting time of the year. This is the time to start ordering your roses now before they sell out and you can see from the catalogs and online all the new varieties and products.  I get an early preview from Jackson and Perkins and I can see what’s in and what’s out.  They still have some older selections that stay popular year after year, and in my opinion for new selections and superior plants no one beats J&P. 

My favorite color is the deep magenta, and it is definitely on my "roses to buy list" for this year.  I have listed my favorites below.  If you would like to see the entire collection just click on any of the photos or the word roses. 

You will not be disappointed in the selection this year, so get your shovel out and start turning over the ground in preparation of your new rose bed and don’t forget the manure!

New 2014 Roses
Beautiful Dreamer  Crush on You Floribunda Rose $24.95   Summer Surprise Hybrid Tea Rose

Limited Quantity
  Artistry      Mister Lincoln   24.95      Welcome Home Hybrid tea
          Artistry Hybrid Tea              Mister Lincoln Hybrid Tea       Welcome Home HT

Most Unusual Colors 
Cabana   Scentimental Flori unusal color   Shazam
Cabana Hybrid Tea                         Scentimental Floribunda                Shazam Hybrid Tea

My Favorites

 Ebb Tide Flori Enchanted Evening About Face grandiflora unusual color
Ebb Tide                                                  Enchanted Evening                                About Face

Cherry Parfait Grandi  unusual color  Honey Perfume Judys favorite  Heroes 2013 Rose of the Year

Thursday, February 20, 2014

5 Steps to Starting Spring Seeds

Spring is the time to start your seedlings in pots.  Some seeds can be sown directly into the garden, bypassing indoor seed starting and transplanting. Some seeds, however, take several months to mature from seed, so it's just not practical to direct sow them in the garden where the growing season is short. That's why, when it comes to long season plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, most gardeners either start their own plants indoors or purchase seedlings from the nursery.
 Perennial plants, if sown earlier will bloom in the first year. Plant hollyhock seeds now and you will enjoy stately blooms in July.

 For instance, tomatoes would need a 4 or 5 month growing season to mature from seed, which gardeners in warm climates can provide. However, thankfully, they transplant very well and can be grown just about anywhere, if plants are set out instead of seeds. Root crops and vegetables with tap roots generally don't transplant well and need to be direct seeded. Some quick growing crops, like peas and summer squash, really don't benefit from being started indoors as seedlings, because plants direct seeded in the garden will quickly catch up to transplants. Seed packets will give you most of the information you'll need about whether to direct seed in the garden or whether you'll need to start them so many weeks before your last frost. The lists below will give you some idea of what to plan for.

Vegetables that are Usually Direct Seeded:

Beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, micro greens, muskmelons, okra, parsnips, peas, pumpkins, radishes, rutabaga, salsify, squash, turnips, watermelon.

Vegetables that Transplant Well:

Basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, collards, eggplant, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard, okra, onions, parsley, peppers, tomatoes
Then there are a handful of vegetables that aren't usually grown from seed at all. They're grown vegetatively. [See list below.] Whatever your choice, direct seeding, seed starting or purchasing seedlings, it's best to decide while you are planning your vegetable garden. You'll want to get your plants in the ground as early as possible, to give them time to acclimate to the warming weather and to give them the longest growing season possible.

Plants Usually Started From other than Seed

ArtichokesRoot Divisions
Asparagus1-Year Old Roots
HorseradishRoot Cuttings
PotatoesSeed Potatoes
RhubarbRoot Crowns
Sweet PotatoesSlips

Starting Seeds

Here are the basics of what you'll need to get your garden seeds started: 1.Containers - Either purchased pots or flats or containers you've saved, like egg cartons and yogurt cups. Used pots should be cleaned and disinfected by soaking in 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. 2.Potting Mix - Seeds do best in a soilless mix where there are fewer inherent problems than with garden soil 3.Seeds - Your choice 4.Labels/markers - Trust me, you won't remember what's what 5.Plastic Bags or Covers - These will trap warmth and humidity where the seeds need it 6.Water 7.Light Source - If you don't have a bright window, you will need some kind of florescent or high density plant light.

 Loosen and dampen the potting mix before you put it into your seed starting containers. It is easier to get a uniform level of moisture if you do it this way.
Dampen the mix to the consistency of a rung-out sponge. It should be wet, but not dripping, with no dry lumps. There are many good potting mixes available. Using a soilless potting mix rather than outdoor soil is preferable because potting mixes don't readily compact, don't contain weed seeds and don't have disease spores and other possible problems. Also, since new seedlings don't require fertilizer until they sprout their first true leaves, you don't really need a mix with fertilizer already in it.

  • Use the pre-dampened potting mix to fill your seed starting containers.
  • Don't pack the potting mix into the container.
  • Fill about 2/3s full and tap the container on the table top, to help the potting mix settle.
  • Gently firm with your hand or a small board.

  • Start Planting:

  •      Once you have your containers prepared, you can begin planting the seeds.  
    • Make sure you read the seed package for special instructions. Some seeds may require a period of pre-chilling or soaking.
    • Small seeds can be sprinkled on top of the potting mix. Larger seeds can be counted out and planted individually.
    • Use at least 3 seeds per container, since not all seeds will germinate and not all that do germinate will survive. You can thin extras later.
    Finishing Touches
    • Cover the seeds with more dampened potting mix and then gently firm again.
    • Re-check your seed packet for information on how much potting mix should go on top of the seeds. Generally, the smaller the seed, the less you need to cover them.
    • There are a few seeds, like lettuce, that require light to germinate and should barely be covered with potting mix.
    And Water Again:
    Although the potting mix was pre-dampened, it is still a good idea to sprinkle some additional water on top of the newly planted seed. This insures that the top layer of mix won't dry out and it also helps to firm the potting mix and insure good contact between the seed the mix.

  • Greenhouse Effect: Your seeds are now ready to be covered loosely with some type of plastic. This will help hold in both heat and moisture. You can place the whole container into a plastic bag or simply lay a sheet of plastic over the container. If you have special seed starting trays with plastic covers, use those.
    Heat: Move your container to a warm, draft free spot and check it daily. Most seeds germinate best when the temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees F. The top of a refrigerator is an idea spot or you could consider purchasing heating mats specially made for germinating seed. Heating mats go under the potting containers and heat the soil from below. You will usually need to water more frequently when using heating mats. Caution: Only use heating mats certified for seed starting use. Light and Air: In general, seeds will not need light until they emerge. They will need air circulation under the plastic or you will be encouraging mold. Signs of Life: Remove the plastic as soon as you see a seedling emerging and move the plant into indirect light. Be sure the potting mix stays moist, but not wet.
    First Signs of Growth: Once your seedlings begin poking through the soil, they will start to straighten up and unfurl. What look like two leaves will appear. These are actually leaf-like structures, called cotyledons, that are part of the seed and serve as food sources until true leaves are formed and the plant is capable of photosynthesis. At this point you should move your seedlings under a light source.
    Move into the Light: Your seedlings will need between 12-18 hours of light each day. This may seem extreme, but artificial light and even the low rays of the winter sun are not as intense as full summer sun. The best way to insure regular long doses of light is to attach your florescent or high intensity plant lights to an automatic timer.
    True Leaves: As the seedling grows, the cotyledons will wither and what are called the first "true" leaves will form. This is when your seedling begins actively photosynthesizing. Since it is growing in a soilless mix, you will need to give it some supplemental feeding at this point. Use a balanced fertilizer or one high in nitrogen and potassium, to encourage good roots and healthy growth.
    Potting up: Seedlings can remain in their original containers until you are ready to plant them in their permanent spots. However it is common to move the seedlings into a larger pot once several sets of leaves have formed and the seedling is a couple of inches tall. This is called "potting up" and it allows the roots more room to develop. Three to four inch pots are good sizes to pot up to, allowing plenty of room for root growth. Thinning: If more than one seedling is growing in the same pot, either separate the seedlings into individual pots or cut off all but the strongest seedling. Don't try to pull out the extra seedlings, since this might hurt the roots of the seedling you are keeping.

    Hardening Off
    By the time the temperature warms outside, you should have stocky, healthy young plants. Before moving them out into the garden, take a week or two to gradually introduce them to their new growing conditions. This is called hardening off. It gives the plants a chance to acclimate to sunlight, drying winds and climate changes.
    • Move the plants to a shady spot for increasing amounts of time, several days in a row.
    • Bring them in or cover them if the temperature looks like it will dip.
    • Gradually increase the amount of time they spend outside and the amount of sunlight they receive until you see that they are growing strong and appear ready to go out on their own.
    • Water your seedlings well before and after transplanting and try not to transplant during the hottest, sunniest part of the day.

    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    10 Best Fragrant Roses for Your Garden

    'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'  ~ from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare

    There are many different reasons to choose a rose for your garden. You can choose by color, by size, or by growth habit - maybe you're looking for a climber for example.  As for me and my garden, I always choose roses for fragrance!
    The sweet smell of roses in your garden or cut roses in your home feels like a luxury. Some roses have a fragrance some that have sweeter and stronger fragrances. Not all roses have fragrance and you can't necessarily judge a fragrant rose scent by its color, but here are some general tips to keep in mind while you're choosing a rose to grow in your garden:

    Darker roses are usually more fragrant than pale blossoms.
    Red and pink roses tend to have more of the 'classic rose' floral scent.
    The more petals on the blossom, the stronger the scent.

     Below I have listed my favorite fragrant roses, plant a few and they will become your favorite also.

    Scentimental  Shrub Roses

    'Sentimental' is a breathtakingly beautiful striped rose whose color is burgundy-red swirled with creamy-white. The large, fully double 4" blooms (petals 40+) with old-fashioned appearance comes from having striped garden roses in its ancestry. The strong fragrance is sweet and spicy. Each petal is as unique as a snowflake. Some are burgundy splashed white, some more cream swirled with red. The flowers are perfect for potpourri. The continuous blooming plant is densely covered with disease-resistant dark green, leathery foliage and is of an excellent rounded shape.

    Madame Isaac Pereire  Bourbon Rose

    Luscious, sumptuous, almost blousy beauty, runs one description of this well-known old rose. Named after the wife of a French banker, Madame Isaac Pereire has fat, cabbagey flowers of rich rose madder, with perhaps the strongest deep rose perfume extant. To see and smell a full blown bush on an early April morning is a heady experience. A smaller but even more lovely fall display and scattered roses throughout the summer are extra rewards that come as the plant gets established. Mme. Isaac Pereire makes a handsome shrub specimen for pegging.

     First Prize     Hybrid Tea Roses

    Long pointed buds open into perfect 6+" flowers (petals 25+) that are made up of half swirled hues of rose-pink with an ivory pink reverse. All of this on a continually blooming bushy plant with dark green, leathery leaves that provide the perfect foil for its outstanding blooms. Sweet floral fragrance.

    Awakening   Climbing Roses
    Discovered in Czechoslovakia, this is an outstanding addition to the ranks of climbing roses. 'Awakening' is a sport of 'New Dawn' that produces fragrant, old-fashioned, 3 1/2" fully quartered blooms of soft, silvery pink with a fresh/sweet fragrance on a continual blooming climber with glossy mid-green foliage. 30+

    Double Delight  Hybrid Tea Roses
    Beautiful double blooms with an eye-catching color combination and fantastic fragrance. The large, somewhat informal, old-fashioned, 24-30 petals are of rich, creamy white edged strawberry red. One of the most fragrantroses in the garden

    Heritage  David Austin® English Roses

    A near perfect rose. Its classically shaped, old-fashioned rose blooms are a lovely, soft pink, which is perfect for this delicate, cup-shaped beauty. One of the most outstanding of the English Roses. Its medium sized 3 1/2" blooms (petals 30) are true perfection in form and fragrance, which has a strong heady fragrance with a touch of lemon. A vigorous, bushy plant with few thorns. Excellent repeat blooming characteristics. Performs well in partial shade and makes a great cut flower. 

    Mr. Lincoln  Hybrid Tea Roses

    A very well-known hybrid tea. Long pointed buds open into large, well-formed, long stemmed, fully double 4" blooms (petals 24+) of velvety, deep red. The velvety texture of the bloom is almost unbelievable. 'Mr. Lincoln' has outstandingly strong damask fragrance that seduces the senses. A vigorous, tall, upright continual blooming bush with dark green foliage. Makes a good cut flower.

    The most classic of roses in its color; richest, deep apricot, it will benefit from afternoon shading in hotter climates. A show stopper and strong fragrant rose.  A great exhibition rose with perfect form. A vigorous, bushy plant with large, deep green foliage. AARS winner in 1982.   Petals 30, Bloom 5-6"

     The Mayflower    David Austin® English Roses

     David Austin believes 'The Mayflower' represents an   important breakthrough in English Roses. A small    continually blooming shrub bearing charming,   medium size typically old rose 3" flowers (petals 35+) of deep rose pink. It has a strong, old rose fragrance. 

    Variegata Di Bologna  Old Garden Roses

    Unusual Color RosesBourbonsLarge, cupped 5" flowers (petals 60+) of creamy white cleanly striped with purple crimson. One of the most striking of the striped roses providing a fantastic display and only a few later blooms. A strong upright repeat blooming bush that will benefit from training up a support (like a pillar rose) to make it a standout in the garden

    Alfred CarriĆ©r  Noisettes

    One of the most fragrant of roses. Clusters of large, globular, cupped 3 1/2" flowers (petals 40+) of pale, pearl-pink, aging to cream on a    strong plant with attractive foliage. A most outstanding pillar rose. More hardy than other Noisettes.  Climber.