Ava Middleton is a garden writer and garden coach who maintains a cottage garden on a small lot in historic Midtown Memphis, Tennessee. Her postage-stamp front cottage garden is an ever-changing tapestry, taking on new characteristics each season. Her garden Zone is 7B. She is an avid plant collector and is a featured garden writer for The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis. She is a member of The Garden Writer's Association and travels to visit gardens whenever possible. Some of her favorite plants include hydrangeas, heucheras and long-blooming perennials, such as salvia and coreopsis.

Recent Blog Posts

May 06
Gardening Through Generations  

Mar 19
Garden Surprises   (2 comments)

Apr 19
Modern Cottage Gardening  

Feb 21
The Petunia’s Last Stand  




Gardening Through Generations
by Ava Middleton - posted 05/06/14

Each year, I have daylilies from my aunts’ yard that bloom in my yard, giving me a special link to family members who are no longer with us and reminding me that I truly inherited my love of gardening. My brother dug them from my aunts’ yard and distributed them to loved ones and friends. Now, we all enjoy them each year and know that their plants have a treasured place in our yards and hearts. My aunts were formal gardeners with designated beds for iris, daylilies and roses. I’m more of a cottage gardener like my maternal grandmother, growing a pinch of this and a pinch of that. But their daylilies fit right in, blooming each year with a special place in my garden. Waiting right now for them to bloom soon....

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Garden Surprises
by Ava Middleton - posted 03/19/13


There are often surprises in the garden: lady bugs landing on you and a guest, birds nesting in your yard, the first hummingbird of the year or a plant ununexpectantly bursting into bloom. My very large rosemary bush had only bloomed sporadically in the past with a few insignificant blooms here and there along the stems. It really surprised me this year with a fabulous display of bluish-purple blooms over the entire plant. I have always had a great appreciation of my rosemary bush for its evergreen contribution to my front garden, not to mention the wonderful fragrance and that I can share it with all of my neighbors for their culinary use. But the magnificent display of blooms at a time when not much else is blooming in the garden? Amazing.

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Modern Cottage Gardening
by Ava Middleton - posted 04/19/12

Vita Sackville-West described cottage gardening as plants growing in a jumble. Others define it as informal, dense plantings in a casual design. I refer to my style of gardening as cottage, often saying that  it allows me to buy one of every plant. That is always tempting, especially during spring plant sales. I do, however, try to pull the varied plants together by using a color scheme and by repeating plants and colors throughout my tiny front-yard garden. Each season does bring a never-ending experiment of combining annuals, perennials and grasses, always creating new looks. Constant are the colors: lavender, purple, pink, light yellow and a little white. The urn and planter baskets provide areas for seasonal plants. Since my space is so small, I like plants that bloom for a long time. Some of my favorites are coreopsis, salvia, cone flowers, yarrow, reblooming daylilies and allium.

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