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My English Cottage Garden
by Moneen Jones - posted 04/18/18

Spring Project. I always loved flowers. Living in Chicago (~1996 - 2006) gave me the opportunity to visit botanical gardens, forest preserves, home garden and orchid shows. With the latter, I still take a once a year trip from the Bootheel of Missouri to Chicago for Hausermann's Orchid show. Here I replace my dying orchids (or dead orchids) or purchase additional ones at sale prices. I can say I have an addiction to mycoheterotrophic plants. You can read more about these parasitic plants here.

I moved into my 1940's home a few years ago. The yard had not been taken care of for many years, so I applied weed and feed with the result that I now have large bare spots in my front, back, and side yard because apparently the 'grass' was mostly weeds. To say the least, I have many projects I will be covering with this blog, and I am going to start with the backyard. My goal for this year is to start an English Cottage Garden. These gardens are full of eclectic flowers, shrubs, ornamentals, and change with the seasons. They can contain fruits, vegetables, trees, benches, pathways, and remain productive to feed the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. So, let's start with my embarrasing first photos of my backyard. You'll note the gazebo, which is pretty much the best part of the backyard right now.

Backyard April 2018

Yard Prep. Crabgrass is a horrible nuisance weed in my area, and you need to control it early. I applied Dithiopyr 40 WSB* with a 2gal sprayer at 1oz per 2gal sprayer all over my yard in March. Dithiopyr is an early post emergent and pre-emergent herbicide and works on over 40 grassy and broadleaf weeds in established lawns. It won't hurt your grass. Make sure you read the directions for applying any chemicals in your yard and use them properly with protective gear. Next, I applied Milky Spore powder at a rate of 1tsp per 3 feet. If you have grubs and moles, these benefiial nematodes are great at controlling the grub stage. By the way, those grubs grow up be the japanese beetles that snack on your roses. You can buy Milky Spore online or most garden stores. Next, soil conditions. I live in the Bootheel, so it's a mix of sandy loam and gumbo (i.e. clay soil).  I have moss growing on my brick patio. The moss growth tells me that my pH is low, and I need to have an application of lyme. I could also run a soil test for quantifying the nutrients in the soil. I have filled in a hole (i.e. low lying area of my backyard) with top soil followed by garden soil that will fertilize that area for 3 months.pathways

Walkways and Stakes. Next, I decided where my walkways would be located. I used Scott's 25-year Pro Fabric landscape fabric (3 x 150ft) and stapled down the fabric using 6" 11-gauge heavy duty U shaped garden staples. I covered my freshly cut grass without using a weed killer to kill all my grass. 

Bulb planting. I purchased 400 bulbs from Michigan Bulb company. I selected the 4 of the summer flowering garden, 1 tall phlox mix super bag, and 2 hosta mix super bags.  I marked out 4 areas of my yard where I wanted the gardens to be using 8" craft sticks. Using these also lets me know how many of the bulbs come up (I mark each garden section with number of bulbs planted). The bulbs came with a suggested design, and I just made subtle differences to it by spreading out the bulbs at a further distance. I can fill in the areas with more flowers as bulbs start to develop and grow. Stay tuned for updates on this project and more as the garden season begins!

*The blog writer does not endorse any products that are mentioned in the writing of the blog stories.

 

 

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