Your Ultimate Guide to Commonly Asked Cottage Gardening Questions

I’ve compiled my most frequently asked questions and I hope this can help on your next gardening endeavor. If I missed a question that you’d like answered please feel free to leave a comment.

How do you prune and treat your roses?

Pruning your roses is very important to the health of the rose. Timing is key, and I prefer to prune my roses in February, just before new growth kicks in. It is important to make clean cuts so you must use sharp shears. My favorite are the Felco Pruning Sheers.

For my English Roses, I trim down by one-third, but every type of rose variety may have different requirements. I recommend checking your rose distributor for specific guidance.  I will be doing a complete blog post with more specific details once I start pruning.

In terms of care, I follow a regimen of fertilizing in early spring and after the first flush I use Bayer Rose Care. If necessary I will spray with Rose RX every six weeks. Fortunately, my English roses generally thrive, with the only challenge being aphids, which I manage effectively through strategic underplanting.

Which flowers in your garden attract butterflies?

Some of my favorites include Millenium Allium, Purple Coneflower, Salvia, Phlox, and Lavender. I also have Zinnias, Sunflowers, and Cosmos in the cutting garden. 

What are some companion planting combinations that work well together?

It’s crucial to establish a color palette when planning a garden. I’ve opted for pink, purple, and white. Following this, it’s essential to strategically combine perennials, annuals, vines, and shrubs, considering their height and varying bloom times. As a personal tip, I consistently plant nepeta or salvia near my roses to ward off aphids. Here are some of my favorite plant combinations.

Purple Clematis and Pink Roses

Nepeta, Salvia, and Pink Roses

Nepeta, Foxgloves and Pink Roses

Annabelle Hydrangea, Millienum Alliums and Supertunia Silverberry

Why are my Peonies not blooming? They grow but do not have flowers.

This happened to me as a new gardener and the reason was, I planted them too deep. The roots or tubers must not be planted more than one inch deep. They need at least six hours of sun. I am in 6b and Peonies can tolerate up to zone 8. I would suggest if you are in that higher zone to plant them where they will receive shade. They are very hardy if you plant them correctly and in the right sunlight. Mine are from the grandmother’s plant which I have brought to every home I have moved to over the last forty years!

Can you name some tall flowers for a cottage garden?

I love Foxgloves and Alliums. The tall alliums in my garden are Globe Master and Ambassador. In the cutting garden, I have Sunflowers, Tall Snapdragons and Dahlias. Lupine, Larkspurk, and Verbascum are other great options.

How do I keep such a sharp edge on my garden beds?

In Spring I use a spade shovel on all my beds to made a sharp edge and touch up if needed in late Summer.

Why don’t you have weeds?

Trust me, I do! My solution is to put Preen down in early Spring to prevent weed seed. I apply after mulching and again during Fall clean up. I also use this tool which is a must have.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in your garden?

Mistake #1: Not Knowing Your Zone

You must know your zone! Mine is 6b. Look at the tags before buying and check the zone range. It is really important to read the tags to make sure you are planting with the correct lighting conditions. My sun garden gets at least eight hours of sun.

Mistake #2: Size Matters!

Another critical factor is understanding the eventual size of the plants. A well-thought-out garden avoids overcrowding, particularly with perennials that start as small beginnings and take about three years to reach maturity. This is crucial for creating a harmonious balance, allowing room for the perennials to mature and integrate seamlessly with annuals.

Mistake #3: Not Paying Attention to Plant Height

Height really matters when planting perennials so it is really important to read the tag and not just look at the plant itself. Some perennials look the same but come in different heights. It is important that you plant the shortest varieties at the front of the border and gradually progress to the tallest at the back, incorporating a mix of flowers and shrubs. 

Mistake #4: Only Shopping for Plants in the Spring

We all love to go to the garden center in Spring when we are ready to start our garden and we fall in love with all the beautiful perennials in bloom. However, it is a good practice to go to the garden center in early Spring, late Spring, and early Fall to see what is blooming. This will ensure that your garden has different bloom times. If you go to the garden center in Spring and purchase all your flowers for your garden you will not have color throughout the entire growing season.

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