What runs through your mind when you think of a cottage garden? Beautiful flowers? Fragrant herbs? Butterflies and a small, thatched house, perhaps? A cottage garden is more than just a small garden tightly packed with beautiful flowers. Technically, itâ€™s a garden that utilizes a small space by planting flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables together to create a useful and aesthetically pleasing area.
Historically, the concept of the cottage garden developed because people didnâ€™t have a lot of time to grow. Gardeners needed to find a way to feed their families while at the same time grow medicinal herbs. Centuries ago, families couldnâ€™t rely on crops from the field, even if they tilled and grew them themselves, since they were taken away for the wealthy landowners. Hence, the cottage garden evolved as a necessity for survival, but turned out to be a better way to farm.
In order to have a successful cottage garden, it needs to be efficient, self-sustaining, and able to repel pests and weeds with little elbow grease. This is where companion planting comes in handy. Throughout the ages, cottage gardeners learned which plants seemed to grow well together, and modern science has actually proved that many plants have natural benefits to others.
So, how do you go about designing and maintaining a cottage garden? First, theyâ€™re meant to be small and intimate spaces, which is perfect for an urban gardener with a small plot. The walkways, if you choose to have them, should be narrow because you want to utilize as much available space as possible.
Shrubs give the garden a visual base that remains unchanging in an ever-changing landscape, and vines that grow beans or grapes can help soften hard lines of fences or walls. Flowers that have insect repellent abilities, such as Mexican marigolds, have an aroma that repels most harmful pests. Plant these throughout the garden.
Onions have nice green stalks. Chamomile flowers planted near them improves the onionsâ€™ flavor, and also makes a pretty addition to a cottage garden. Other plants that benefit onions are carrots, leeks, and strawberries.
Plant some petunias next to your asparagus and tomatoes to repel asparagus beetles, aphids, and tomato worms. You can also take the leaves to make into a tea that is a potent bug spray.
No cottage garden is complete without small trees. Plant a dwarf cherry or peach if you desire fruit, or try a mimosa tree. Its pretty, feathery flowers create a stunning visual and the tree produces shade to protect your plants from the hot summer sun.
Keep in mind that a cottage garden is generally one that stays active year-round. Perennials and annuals give the garden a long-lasting stability. Create a focal point somewhere in the garden, such as a water fountain, small sculpture, or pond with a waterfall. If you have room, you might also consider a small sitting area. This could be a bench, a large rock, or low-lying wall. If your garden is successful, you should have a nice crop of vegetables, tubers, beans, herbs and flowers that will produce for several years with minimal effort.
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