Monthly Archives: January 2013

Free to a good home – one Cottage Garden bed.

As well as having an affinity towards the NGS Open Garden days, we are also members of the RHS and more recently the Cottage Garden Society.

I can see beauty in most gardens but to me the vibrancy of a Cottage Garden takes some beating. I understand that people like formality, not really one of my strong points, or plant their gardens based on mood and colour.

I remember on an RHS level 2 module we had to cut out pictures from garden magazines and arrange a palette board of colours for a garden scheme. At the show and tell the tutor, SN, knew straight away which one was mine. It was like being back at school, always in trouble, just the depth that varied.

As part of developing The Pink Bungalow garden, I am going to create a Cottage Garden bed (border), in the front garden. The size will be approximately 10m x 2m and will be south facing with a beech hedge at the rear. The hedge should provide some shelter from the wind blowing up the Dee Estuary.

Furthest away from the road is the manhole bed hidden by the Yew Tree.  The soils not brilliant but its home to a few plants including a lovely Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’, bought for £2 from a nursery that was closing down.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

Why free to a good home?  Well I think ours is a good home and I intend to plant the new bed with plants grown from free seed or from donated plants. I am sure that this has been done before by many people, so I am not taking any credit for the idea.

The first twelve lots of plants will hopefully be raised from the Cottage Garden Society’s seed distribution, providing that all my choices are available. Other plants will come from existing stock in the garden that can be divided in the Spring and  ones that I’m propagating from cuttings taken for the first time last autumn. If they survive, even though some of these plants were originally purchased, I’m counting them as free-my house, my rules.

I am also willing to count BOGOF deals such as buy one rose get the second free. I am a sucker for fragrance and the new bed will be home to a couple of roses. I also have the misfortune of fixing close family and friend’s computers. Instead of bottles of wine I shall tell them about the new bed and hopefully get a garden voucher, which I will count as a freebie. Oh and any plants or cuttings donated by friends.

Location of the new Cottage Garden bed.

Location of the new Cottage Garden bed.

You can see from the picture that I have still to strip the turf and prepare the bed. The weekend after we moved into The Pink Bungalow I moved the driveway, which ran alongside the beech hedge, put in new drains and then backfilled the existing driveway with soil from the new driveway.

I know that it will not be very nice soil so I am anticipating that a lot of compost will be used. It is also quite dry due to a number of trees belonging to our neighbour, only one of which still exists.

Is there a planting scheme you may ask? Well not really because I don’t know what I’ll end up with and surely that flies in the face of a Cottage Garden. I have seen the planting schemes in, “A Cottage Garden Planner” which has given some ideas and helped prompt my seed choice.

It would be good if you could keep me company and let me know about your experiences with this type of project.

Mahalo and Happy Gardening


Follow the Yellow Book Road

Tuesday 1st January 2013

Hello and welcome to my first attempt at writing about our garden, otherwise known as The Pink Bungalow.

We are situated on the west side of the Wirral on the same road as Ness Botanic Gardens, which is less than a minutes drive away.  With the wind in the right direction and standing on your tippy toes you can catch glimpses of the River Dee.

We (my long suffering wife & I) have lived here for quite a few years and I’ve reclaimed the property and it’s garden from years of neglect. The bungalow renovation came first and sorting out the garden followed after.  It took many, many hours of hand digging brambles and any other vegetation that you can think of as well as numerous corrugated sheets to clear the ground. The previous occupier had used the sheets to suppress weed growth. They failed and added the extra burden of avoiding jagged rusted metal.

So the garden as it currently stands consists of a number of beds, which I’ve grandly named as follows (actually its to help me remember were I’ve planted things and for when we talk about the garden with our friends A & J):

  • Conservatory Bed
  • Slate Bed
  • Camelia Bed
  • Lilac bed
  • Arch bed
  • Top Bed
  • Shed Bed
  • Cottage Bed
  • Magnolia Bed
  • Apple Tree Bed
  • Magnolia Bed
  • Fern Bed
  • White Bed (in name only)
  • Blue Lilac Bed
Eryngium "Miss Marbel"

Eryngium “Miss Marbel”


In the front we have the:

  • Manhole Bed
  • Garage Bed

The burning question you may be asking is why, “Follow the yellow book road”

About four year ago I discovered the NGS scheme, which hooked me. The garden was called “Lynwood” and I was driving past when I saw the “magic sign”, which summoned people to view the garden. In we went and that was it.  We voraciously worked our way through local gardens over that summer and I resolved to one day open our garden.

There followed more hard work, enjoyment and a few pounds donated to local nursery’s in return for what I hoped would be healthy, interesting and more importantly fragrant plants.

In September of 2012 the back garden passed muster to open in 2014 with the proviso that the newly planted borders had bulked out.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

So I hope you can join me throughout this year as I work on what’s here, improve on other things, finish the pond I started in October and maybe start other projects such as a new cottage garden bed in the front planted with seeds from the Cottage Garden Society.

It would be good if you can keep me company.

Mahalo and happy gardening