async defer src="//" My Enchanting Cottage Garden: March 2015

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.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Best Roses for the Hot Dry Desert

It is hard to imagine roses blooming in the desert, but roses seem to love and thrive in the hot, dry climate.  The soil needs to be amended somewhat to accommodate the nutritional needs but just give them water and stand back and watch them grow.  Almost all types do well in the desert with a few exceptions.  I dearly love the English David Austin roses, and they do grow and bloom in Las Vegas, but not to the norm as they would in a milder climate. They do not stay small or compact but yet seem to grow huge and sometimes spindly. The tea roses are exceptional in the dry heat and Hybrid Tea love the dry heat as they do not have black spot, yes, you heard me, NO BLACK SPOT. We rarely see any pest or diseases on the roses, which is another reason for growing in the dry heat of the desert.  The desert may not be kind to human’s, but the plant world loves it.


Angel face is one of the first to bloom this year, and I would like to rename her to happy face. This rose just looks so happy in my garden. The shades of lavender with the ruffle blossoms make me smile,

Alychemist took it’ time to bloom, I did not see nary a blossom for the first two seasons, now it blooms it’s head off, and is 10 foot tall and covers my long trellis by the back porch. This is a beautiful rose, but if I had it to do over again I would not plant it in the entrance, the thorns are so vicious and mean!

I am not sure I captured the grandeur and beauty of this rose Mme. Isaac Pierre. It was so tall I had to look up to take the shot, you can see it is at the roof line of my house. This rose is consistently named the most fragrant rose ever. I second that emotion! This is the rose I planted four feet from my front door. It deserved that honor.


My beautiful thornless Zephrine Drouhin pink rose.  It is now 10ft. tall by 15ft wide. It does a marvelous job of covering the patio. It is one of the easiest to take cuttings and get new starters. The one I started last year is already blooming.


Don Juan is a common rose and in all the desert nurseries because it is a reliable bloomer.  Nice large red blossoms.


I bought this rose at Costco, something I never do, but just cold not help myself.  I love the bright orange hue of this rose. Marmalade is the name and she is a sweet little thing in constant bloom.


Where would the world be without the Peace rose.  Everyone should plant one. It is no trouble, blooms well and comes back strong every year and the buds are picture perfect even I can’t mess this shot up!


There are so many different roses I want to buy and so little room I rarely buy two of the same kind, but this Golden Showers blooms so well and is the biggest and strongest of all my roses, I vowed this year to buy another one just because I love looking at it.


This is definitely the best rose of all for the desert. You will not go wrong planting Golden Showers.

Marmalade blooming in the garden. It shows nice next to the blue container.


This little or should I say big bloomer is Mme. Caroline Testout. A beautiful climbing Tea rose with big blossoms and so fragrant over the swing trellis.

Velvet Fragrance in the foreground and an heirloom rose Cramoisi Superieur rose in the background.
My favorite Tea rose is Safrano. Light yellow, apricot color is very fragrant and blooms constantly. This particular rose does well in dry heat.
Another Tea rose that performs well in hot dry climates is General Schablinski. It starts out red and generally fades to a lighter pink. Grows into a large bush.
The tea rose Mme. Joseph Swartz always amazes me with it beautiful blooms and steady reliable growth and performance.
I first planted Lady Hillingdon Climbing Tea rose when I lived in Alabama. This rose grew to over 15 ft in 2 years and was so fragrant you could smell it down the street. I have this one climbing over a trellis and when you walk under it the smell just about knocks you out. It is a delicate yellow apricot color.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Essence of a Spring Cottage Garden


When I think of Cottage Gardens I invariably think a lush mixture of plants, colors, textures, art ornaments, trees, and last but not least a Garden Shed.  Finally after living in Las Vegas for 3 years and planting, tilling, adding compost, building, and planting again, I think my little Eden is taking shape.  Now mind you having a Cottage Garden in Las Vegas is no easy feat, but as with anything, a little work, a little time and a whole lot of patience and you can do it.


Las Vegas or high Desert gardening is some ways is no different from any area, plants bloom earlier than eastern gardens but they require the same ingredients, sun, water and nutrients.  The ground in high desert gardens is deplete of any nutrients, not even a worm will live here, though I do have an abundance of grubs. I have gardened in the northern state of Ohio and in the Southern state of Alabama and in both areas I hade to add compost, and other soil building ingredients. California is probably the only state I know of that comes with ready–to-grow soil. I can say finally after working my soil for three years I now have worms!  I also have fruit bearing trees. You can see the Chinese pear apple in the foreground and the pink nectarine in the distance.

We have really strong winds year round and this plays havoc with the young growing trees, most of my trees all have unusual shapes, but I think it adds to the interest and character of the tree.


I love the winters in Las Vegas, even though we can get a week or two of really cold weather, it does not affect the petunias, the result is a big lush container when spring arrives.  Nicotiana blooming on the right.

Windowbox of succulents and a blooming nectarine.

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If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I am enthralled with all types of nasturtiums.  This is a climbing whirlybird.  Another plant that will bloom all winter.

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An essence of a Cottage Garden is a nice quiet place to rest and meditate and watch the evening hummingbirds and listen to the trickle of water.


DSC03106  IF I DIDN’T KNOW BETTER, I would have thought it a hummingbird, this rapid wing-beating insect that swooped into my yard Sunday afternoon, drinking the sweet nectar of the yellow petunia.
Often confused with a hummingbird, this white-lined Sphinx moth whips its wings at up to 85 beats per second.  I found photographing this fascinating creature an incredible challenge. As you can see from the many blurred photos. Seriously I must have taken 20 photos, honestly could not this moth simply just hover in one spot for maybe a minute? 


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Get a Jump on Spring with Containers



Beauty in Bloom

Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are bellwethers of spring. In this simple clay bucket, a mixture of Tulips steal the show.  Prolong the life of your plantings by purchasing plants with tightly closed buds. The buds will open in a few days and color your container for two or more weeks.


Long-Lasting Fancy

Delicate white heart-shape flowers float among the foliage of perennial bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis f. alba) while the annual cascading Diascia completes the floral pairing in this old toolbox. Perennials spring to life as container plants. After enjoying their flowers, transplant them into the garden to become a permanent part of your landscape.



Scent of Spring

Scent of Spring

Sweetly perfumed stock revels in cool conditions. The handles on a loosely woven basket make it easy to hang this fragrant treasure where you are likely to walk by and enjoy the scent. An excellent cutting flower, stock is available in shades of white, pink, purple, red, yellow, and orange.



Window Box Winner

Who can resist a stunning window box.  Plant with Angelwing begonia, sweet potato vine, pink petunias,, heuchera plant and as many other filler plants you can stuff into the box for a dazzling display.



Excellent Echeveria Collection

This trio of echeverias in a pair of mismatched terra-cotta pots creates a stunning centerpiece on this stone slab. The more than 100 echeveria species and cultivars from which to choose means it's easy to create unique groupings of these easy-care succulents. Clump size of these spreaders increases over time. If the plants become too crowded in the container, divide and replant



Door Stopper

This lovely Urn mix of petunia, geranium, verbena and ivy create instant porch appeal, and invites a guest to linger just a wee bit longer.



Summer Teaser

Start this pot early in the Spring for lush mid summer blooms of red geraniums, salvia, dusty miller and bacopa.


Urning Their Keep

This bountiful urn of double purple petunias is a focal point in the garden, and certainly urns it’s keep.


Center Piece Attraction

You do not have to wait for Spring to plant this sensational pot of caladiums with Angelwing begonia. A fast grower and attention grapping container.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

6 Steps to Creating a Natural Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are among the most beloved insects. Someone once called them flying flowers. They float, they flutter and they dazzle us with their colors. We relish their dance of spring. Then there’s the bad news: Because of pesticides and habitat loss, the populations of our cherished butterflies is in decline.
A few simple tips will have you on your way to creating your own butterfly habitat. Any home garden, even a container garden, can attract butterflies. The steps are simple — like most of earth’s creatures, butterflies just need food, water, sun and a safe place to have a family.

1. Use a Diversity of Plants
Butterflies, including the anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) seen here, want nectar from a diversity of flowering plants. And they find the plants when they are in large blocks of color. Like a sign over a roadside diner, blocks of color say, “Hey, we’re open for lunch.” Select a variety of nectar plants for adult butterflies using these guidelines:
  • Select plants that are native to your area.
  • Include several plant species that flower at the same time.
  • Have a combination of flowering annuals and perennials.
  • Choose flowers of different sizes, shapes and colors.
  • Plant blocks of color: patches of at least 3½ feet by 3½ feet of a single plant species and color.
  • Have plants flowering through the growing season, from spring to late summer.

Landscape by Treebeard
    Nectar plants. There are many plants,   both native and introduced species, that   adult butterflies use for nectar. These      California dogface butterflies (Colias  eurydice) are feeding on a geranium  (Pelargonium sp). Be sure to check out  additional resources for a full list of  nectar plants. Here’s is a short list of  California native plants that butterflies  find particularly tasty:
    •     Aster family (Asteraceae family)
    •     Buckwheats (Eriogonum spp)
    •     Coyote brush (Baccharis spp)
    •     Mallows (Malacothamnus spp)
    •     Monardella (Monardella spp)
    •     Sages (Salvia spp)

Caterpillar food plants. It’s a little more challenging if you want butterflies to reproduce and lay eggs in your garden. But it’s worth it. Adult butterflies lay their eggs only on or near plants that their caterpillars will eat. And every butterfly species has its own regional distribution and its own caterpillar preferences. Caterpillars of one butterfly species — like the anise swallowtail — may eat a large number of plants, whereas other caterpillars are very picky eaters — like the caterpillars of the monarch butterfly (shown), who feed exclusively on milkweeds (Asclepias spp).

To create a habitat that encourages butterflies to reproduce, select caterpillar food plants, also called host plants, for the butterflies in your region. And better yet, select caterpillar plants for butterflies you find in your specific neighborhood.

To the left is the caterpillar of the anise swallowtail butterfly (Papilio zelicaon) showing its brilliant orange osmeterium, a defense mechanism. On the right is the web-spinning caterpillar of the variable checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas chalcedona). Both of these caterpillars have specific needs when it comes to their host plants. Anise swallowtail caterpillars will eat nearly anything in the large carrot family. The variable checkerspot caterpillar feeds primarily on sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) and sometimes on California bee plant (Scrophularia californica).
Following are three caterpillar food plants and the butterfly species that rely on them:
  • Milkweeds (Asclepias spp): Milkweeds are the only plant that monarchs will use for reproduction and are critical to monarch caterpillars.
  • Buckwheats (Eriogonum spp): Bramble hairstreak, American painted lady, Comstock’s hairstreak, Mormon metalmark, common hairstreak, Gorgon copper, blue copper, acmon blue, square-spotted blue, dotted blue, Mojave blue, Edward’s blue, Elvira’s blue, Bernardino blue, California green hairstreak and buckwheat blue
  • California lilacs (Ceanothus spp): Doudoroff’s hairstreak, echo blue, hedgerow hairstreak, pale swallowtail, pacuvius duskywing and spring azure

Gulf fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanillae), shown here, and cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) thrive throughout the U.S. Many species of little yellow grass skippers are exceptionally easy to attract. Provide them with juicy grasses, like sedge (Carex spp), and you’ll have an instant butterfly garden.


2. Plant in Full Sun
Butterflies are cold-blooded, and they need sun to warm up and get going in the morning. This brandegee sage (Salvia brandegeei) loves the hot sun and is a nectar plant for many butterflies. Additionally, a few sunny rocks, with their radiant heat, provide a nice perch for butterflies.


3. Add Water
Like all critters, this California sister butterfly (Adelpha bredowii) needs water. This one is “puddling” in the wet ground of a home garden, taking up moisture, minerals and salts.
A small patch of wet ground is all that’s needed for a butterfly garden. There are a number of ways to get a wet patch. Put a shallow container or a garbage can lid in the ground and add water, and you have an instant butterfly puddle. Another lovely option is to install a water feature that gently splashes on the surrounding soil and rocks. Butterflies aren’t judgmental — they don’t care if you use a plastic milk carton with a hole in the bottom or an elegant urn. Water and damp soil give butterflies the moisture and nutrients they need.

4. Protect Egg-Laying Sites
Besides the joy of procrastination, there are advantages to an untidy garden: butterflies. Adult butterflies lay their eggs on or near the host plants.
Pupation and overwintering sites are typically nearby in dry, protected spots between rocks and in leaf litter. So don’t clean up in the fall and winter. Wait until later in spring, after those little caterpillars wake up and find their spring breakfast treasure.
Buckwheats, like the red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens) shown here, are host plants for a number of butterfly caterpillars.

5. Don’t Use “’Cides”
Insects are particularly sensitive to toxins. The use of pesticides, herbicide, fungicides or other ’cides in or near a wildlife garden is counterproductive. This is particularly true of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterial insecticide.
Instead, leave the bad bugs. Plants can easily tolerate up to 10 percent damage from insects. Then the good bugs will find and destroy the bad bugs — and hey, most bad bugs aren’t as bad as we think. There is a natural balance. Worry less about insects as pests and think more about insects as guests.

6. Have a Willingness to Learn
Learn more about all kinds of critters in your area, such as these acmon blue butterflies (Plebejus acmon) (browner female left, male right) are mating on  a dried California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), one of their favorite caterpillar plants. A lot of information exists about caterpillar host plants, butterflies in different regions and all the fun things we can do to encourage butterflies in our gardens.

Information gleamed from Houzz and photo credits Google

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cottage Garden “Must Have” Seed and Plant List

A Cottage Garden is a unique blend of plants, bulbs, seeds, annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees.  Each year I look forwarded to the new seed  and plant catalogs and I devour them eagerly.As I have mentioned in my blogs, starting your own seeds is definitely the most economical way to start a cottage garden or add to your existing garden.  Each year I add a few more plants and bulbs and try to push the boundaries of what will grow in my high heat desert zone. Sometimes I have a hard time with some seeds germinating so I will buy plants from online nurseries. Here you will find my list of must haves for the 2015 growing season. I suggest one and all to find a few spots in your garden for one or two new roses.



Pretty Jessica.  This is a good 'old fashioned rose' for a very small garden. Its 3" flowers (petals 45) are a warm rich pink and of perfect formation; a shallow cup closely packed with petals. It has compact, repeat blooming and very short growth.There is a strong old rose fragrance.


Honore de Balzac® From Meilland of France this magnificent pink and yellow blend rose has large, cupped 5-6" blooms (petals 40+) unfold best in a dryer climate. Breathtaking.


Everest Double Fragrance.  Large, fully double and shapely 4" blooms (petals 12-15) are borne in trusses of soft powder-pink , sometimes almost apricot on a continually blooming plant having a dense clove fragrance. Dark-green leathery and heavily veined foliage.


The Shepherdess.  A most attractive rose with deep, open-cupped 3 1/2" flowers(petals 45). The color is a lovely apricot pink with a fruity/rose fragrance and at times a hint of lemon. A healthy, upright, repeat blooming bushy plant.


Lady Emma Hamilton. This rose starts off with dark red buds that have a hint of orange. When the flowers open, they provide a combination of tangerine orange on the inside of the petals and a yellow-orange on the outside. These blooms sit beautifully against bronzy green leaves that become dark green over time. As a fairly upright, bushy, shrub, it grows to be about 4 ft x 3 ft. The blooms are 3.5” in diameter on average and provide an exceptional scent that has hints of pear, grape and citrus fruits.

Select Seeds -- Antique Flowers

Coneflower 'Supreme Cantaloupe'

Coneflower' Supreme Cantaloupe' This Echinacea has a good habit, long bloom time and fragrant, non-fading melon colored petals; the centers start out unimposing then puff out like a honeycomb paper ornament. Well-drained to gritty sweet soil are best.

Zinnia 'Zinderella Peach'

Zinnia 'Zinderella Peach' Zinnia elegans NEW!   This great new zinnia from our favorite Dutch breeder is a nod to the retro scabiosa flowered zinnias so popular in the early 1900s. He has elevated it, (pun intended) into a lovely truffle of a flower with many layered petals in cream and peach with salmon undertones. Easy to grow, it has strong stems, perfect for cutting. Some variation in color and form, but altogether charming.

Geranium 'Fair Ellen'

 Geranium 'Fair Ellen' This variety originated in England in the 1840s. The spicy scented leaves with maroon veining and gorgeous bright pink flowers make it a perfect choice for growing in containers near your door. A beautiful, sturdy-growing plant.

Nasturtium 'Darjeeling Gold'

Nasturtium 'Darjeeling Gold' Tropaeolum majus Rare!  A rare, choice variety with fully double button-like flowers held above the foliage. Deep golden yellow hue stands out in the garden and will be the star of containers in temperate summer areas.

Nasturtium 'Hermine Grashoff'

Nasturtium 'Hermine Grashoff'   A plush looking double-flowered nasturtium with full gathered petals in a rich orange-scarlet hue, bloom all summer to frost. Double forms of nasturtium were imported to England from Italy around 1769. Showcase this beauty in pots, and take cuttings if you desire, as they do not set seed. Annual;  3' trailing Bloom Time Summer to fall; Color: Rich orange-scarlet; Full sun to partial shade.

Nasturtium 'Whirlybird Cherry Rose'

Nasturtium 'Whirlybird Cherry Rose'   Doubled flowers in vibrant rose bloom all summer, the flowers held above the foliage on strong stems.
Primrose 'Blue Zebra'
Its light blue-and-white striped pattern is extraordinarily contrasted against a bright yellow heart. Upright habit is perfect for starring in the front row of borders, mixes or in a container all on its own.

Calendula 'Kablouna Lemon'

Calendula 'Kablouna Lemon' Crested flower centers have a halo of ray petals in a zesty lemon color. Dependable and easy. Edge your veggie garden with these and harvest the petals as they make tasty and colorful additions to breads, soups, and salads. Self sows.

Columbine 'Grandmother's Garden'

Columbine 'Grandmother's Garden' An antique form with short spurs of mixed colors of dark rose, violet, pink and white. Jewels of the late spring garden combined with young fronds of bronze fennel. Fertile, well-drained soils. Self sows.

Honeywort 'Kiwi Blue'

Honeywort 'Kiwi Blue' Cerinthe major var. purpurescens   Ultramarine blue color intensifies in cool fall weather. It combines especially well with 'Empress of India' nasturtium and enlivens flowers of dusky shades of lilac and pink as well.


Tobacco—Woodland  Nicotiana sylvestris.   Star Flower, they called it, for its cluster of tubular blooms are like a shower of brilliant white stars. The front page feature of Park Seed's 1904 Floral Guide, it still steals the scene today with its broad, light green leaves and fragrant flowers that stay open all day. Shelter from strong winds. Self sows.

Zucchini 'Costata Romanesco' Organic

Zucchini 'Costata Romanesco' Organic Curcubita pepo    Golden orange flowers and ridged, speckled and striped light green fruit are prized by professional chefs and gardeners alike. The flesh of these decorative fruits is nutty, meaty and delicious, and can be incorporated into many recipes with ease. Look sharp for the fruits, which can look uncannily like a stem until they are spotted at club size!


SHOGUN DOUBLE CLEMATIS   This clematis produces 4-5" blooms from mid May to June—and then again in August to September. Plant against a light background to make the flowers really stand out.

FLEVO LAGUNA GLADIOLUS. This densely flowered, dwarf variety is hard to miss with its unique chartreuse, red-rimmed blooms. With upright stems just 24" tall, this glad is perfect for borders, no staking required!


Verbascum phoeniceum mix.     A mix of airy white, pink, red or purple flower clusters sparkles above dark green mounds of foliage. Easy and free-flowering, this mix blooms from late spring until frost. Colorful racemes of flowers dotted and speckled through a border add bright glimpses of the many hues this mix contains. It has a light airy quality to it that is perfect to intervene amongst some of the heavier varieties that can become oppressive without these light touches. Easy and free flowering, a short lived perennial that will perpetuate itself by self sown seed.


Mixed Columbine.   Dainty, spurred petals in a colorful blend of pastel shades with attractive gray-green, lobed foliage. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. One of the easiest and most rewarding plants for the garden.

Birch's Double Everblooming Hardy Geraniums . Bright, double pink flowers with purple veining on dainty green leaves, turning a brilliant red and orange in fall. Hardy geraniums are low-maintenance perennials ideal for borders, rock gardens or as a colorful ground cover.

Blue Fringe Daisy.  They have delicate, fine blue-purple petals whorled around golden centers. And, these daisies produce lots of flowers in midsummer!


Red Fury Double Flowered Lily.  Seemingly endless layers of deep red-brown petals tipped with orange-yellow characterize these rare double blooms. Multiply rapidly and return every year; perfect for naturalizing!

Gloriosa Lily.   This fascinating perennial bulb has bright scarlet-red and yellow, lily-like blooms really stand out. Its long narrow leaves turn into tendrils at the tips, enabling it to climb or cling to other plants or structures.


Lilac Emporer Cactus-Flowered - Zinnia

Lilac Emperor Cactus-flowered-Zinnia.  Cactus-flowered type to 36 inches boasts quilled petals of unusually heavy substance. Extra-large flowers are a lovely lilac-purple and make a bold statement in any garden.

Burpee Rose Giant Cactus Zinnia

Rose Giant Cactus Zinnia.  Lovely, big blooms in shades of rose to "bubble gum" pink; they have the unique pointed "cactus" type petals that makes giant zinnia so unusual! Easy to grow and perfect for stunning bouquets. A hard to find variety that was introduced by Burpee's
Patio Pink Lavatera

Patio Pink Lavatera. Annual, although in warmer climates zone 9 or 10 it is a tender perennial. Lavatera is also known as Tree Mallow, and can reach 6 feet tall! But Patio Pink is smaller and more manageable for today’s smaller gardens, seldom exceeding 28 inches. The large, stunning flowers come on all summer long, shimmering in shades of clear, satiny pink. The size makes this one perfect for borders and bedding, but it is equally at home in containers, patio plantings, and more.

Yeti - Nasturtium

Yeti Nasturtium. I chose this nasturtium because of it’s near white color. I do not have this one and thought it would make a nice addition to my colorful nasturtium collection. Named after the ape-like rare creature that legend says inhabits the Himalayas, these white nasturtiums are rare indeed. Not just things of folklore, here is a creamy-white flowering variety that blooms on long trailing vines that have large leaves.

Flame Lettuce

Flame Lettuce.  60 days. A unique, red leaf lettuce that is great for the new high-class markets. The color is intense crimson red and is slow to bolt.

Giant Nonle Spinach

Giant Noble Spinach. This is the giant of the spinach clan; plants spread to 25 inches! Tender leaves are great for canning, steaming or salads; for those who want quantity and quality

Giant Musselburgh Leek

Giant Musselburgh Leek.  An heirloom that was introduced in 1834, near Edinburgh, Scotland. Large, very thick stems; tasty mild flavor. Grows well in most locations; perfect for home or market; this old favorite has huge size and is very winter hardy.

atomic red carrot

Atomic Red Carrot.  Brilliant red carrots are so healthful and unique-looking, sure to add color to your garden. The 8” roots are high in lycopene, which has been shown in studies to help prevent several types of cancer. Crisp roots are at their best when cooked, and this helps to make the lycopene more usable. Very flavorful.