When I set out to design and create an english cottage garden for my backyard, I didn’t fully realize how much of a labor of love it would be.
A little back story: I always had a black thumb. I killed everything and anything, and had accepted my fate that I’d own fake plants as my mother had.
And then in 2017 I got a Fiddle Leaf Fig named Sid who was expensive, beautiful, and almost died on me. I went through quite a journey and learned a LOT about plants to keep him alive, and in the process, my green thumb began to emerge!
In the beginning of 2018, I watched “Big Dreams Small Spaces” with Monty Don for the first time, and something inside me awoke. I sat my husband down, he watched it too, and we both agreed we needed a garden in our backyard.
2018 got away from us, so in came 2019. In February I began to research all my favorite plants. I knew I wanted it to be messy, I knew I wanted it to be English Cottage styled, and I knew I wanted it to be a place where I could sit, enjoy, and cut my favorite flowers whenever I wanted.
When getting ready to plant, we came across one big problem:
our whole garden bed was thick, muddy clay.
While SOME of the plants I wanted could handle clay, a decent chunk of them were less hardy and needed well draining soil. I also knew I didn’t want to go through all this trouble to have my perennials decline each year due to poor soil conditions. I researched what needed to happen, overthought it a million times, then my husband and I went out and got to work.
As the ground began to thaw, my husband and I went and bought a huge truckload of compost and spread it out everywhere. We then took a 4 pronged shovel and stabbed the ground repeatedly to mix it in. Several weeks later we got a second later of compost and lightly roto-tilled it in. I took this time to plan out where I wanted certain plants (and grossly underestimated how many I’d need)
We gave the ground a few weeks to settle and for the compost to work its’ way in. We waited until the weather had dried to dig holes- dozens and dozens and dozens of holes. We planted our hearts away.
Aphids had begun to attack some of my roses. Day in and day out I was out there spraying them with neem and a mix of rubbing alcohol and water to keep them at bay. Ladybugs were released. Earthworms had begun to set up camp in our garden.
More holes dug, more plants purchased. Already our soil had changed DRASTICALLY, as had our hands and feet- so calloused with all the digging cause I hate gardening gloves xD Cosmo and Hollyhock seeds were planted in the garden bed and along my back fence and marked with black cups. I watered them vigorously each day to make sure they sprouted.
The final holes were dug and the final plants went into place. Two truckloads of mulch later, stepping stones bought, backs sunburnt beyond belief, and our garden bed was FINISHED.
It’s now August, and I am SPEECHLESS at how everything has grown. Hard work truly does pay off, and I’ve loved every second. I spend hours each week dead-heading, spraying with Neem, spraying with insecticide to fight off Earwigs and other chewing bugs, pulling weeds, pruning, mulching, and fertilizing, to make sure my babies are happy as can be. While I give them lots of attention, I know a huge reason for our success is because we made sure the most important thing was stable: THE SOIL! Already we’ve had our Hollyhocks shoot up and begin to bloom in less than 60 days, when it’s supposed to take them 90-120! Keeping up on everything has made for a mature garden in just a matter of months- seeds we planted 60 days ago are now shooting up 4-7 feet tall and are bigger and stronger than mostly everything else we planted as young plants!
One flower that has stolen my heart way more than I anticipated has been my small, compact, bushy, and beautiful Rubinato Cosmos. These fellas were grown as seeds and they look GORGEOUS next to my yarrow, foxgloves, feverfew, and roses. They are a stunning magenta red with golden center, extravagant bloomers, and make beautiful cut flowers that I use around my house and in my photo sessions.
A full list of the plants you’ll find in my garden:
Indian Springs Mix Hollyhocks
Pow Wow White Echinacea (Coneflower)
Moonshine Achillea Yarrow
Green Spice Coral Bells
Peppermint Spice Coral Bells
Princess Charlene De Manaco Rose
Mini Marguerite Daisies
Wild Blue Flax
Gentle Hermione Rose
Princess Victoria Louise Poppies
Dalmation Peach Foxgloves
Dwarf Weeping White Cherry Tree
Sombrero Yellow Echinacea
Grandessa White Daisies
Iceberg Climbing Rose
Raspberry Sunday Peony
Coral Charm Peony
Scepter’d Isle Rose
Keep scrolling to see some Before and Afters from April/May-August!
It’s been such a fun journey and I can’t wait to share more photos as our garden grows bigger and bigger and evolves! There is definitely some rearranging that will need to be done and a few more plants I have on my list for this next year, PLUS we have our whole vegetable garden area we need to work on this fall, but for now- I’m more than content.
Want to take the beauty home with you?
Click here to order art prints!
Enter RUBINATOLOVE at checkout for a 10% discount
Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments below.