The Happy Cottage

Small Garden Inspiration

This blog was started in Jan. 2017 on a cold bright winter day in my 1945 cottage home in Durham, NC.  Photos of the Spring 2016 garden inspired me. Winter is after all, the perfect time for gardeners to daydream of Spring. Please join me for real world small garden inspiration interspersed with lifestyle.  

Visit the "Butterfly Compendium" to see a catalog of pollinators in the garden and host plant information.  View this and other favorites in the Featured Post section of the blog.

Gardening/lifestyle ethos at The Happy Cottage: support Mother Earth and yourself by being as natural as possible. Avoid the use of synthetic chemicals and weed instead of spray. Include host and nectar plants for pollinators. Favorite garden medium: organic mushroom compost. It's the soil that mushrooms were grown in. Full disclosure:  We do use biological mosquito dunks.

My gardening style has evolved over twenty years to include scent, food for pollinators, butterflies, birds and shelter for small creatures.  A multi-dimensional garden will bring you years of enjoyment!





Fruit Infused Water

In my 2017 quest to get healthier, I've added fruit infused water to the list. This summer I had melon infused water at a hotel in Columbia, SC and found it to be a really nice touch. The warmer days here have encouraged me to try a couple of combos at home. I have a real weakness for beers, Sauvignon Blanc (from New Zealand), Pimms and natural ginger ale during the warm months. I'm also the queen of drinking cold skim milk. So basically, not enough water in my life. I'm not saying I'm giving these up, but having a healthy option as an alternative is a good approach. Checkout Wellness Mama for several fruity ideas. I've started with two simple recipes: lemon (remove the rind) and ros

Spring in February 2017

I'm sure that the Piedmont in NC is setting a record for several weeks of warm weather in Feb. I'm accustomed to the odd day of warmth here and there, but not a string of them. This morning I noticed my forsythia is already sending out green leaves. Normally, the forsythia peaks in mid-March. I also have daffodils blooming a month ahead. Let's hope we have something left to bloom in March. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the spectacle of my neighbor's tulip magnolias against the forsythia. I knew the lady who planted the magnolias, Patsy Chambers. She left us a beautiful legacy. Here's a follow up on the weather from a CNN story: "What Happened to Winter?" Over 4000 record highs

More Vigorous than a Knockout Rose?

I've often admired my neighbor Carol L.'s rose bush. Once it starts blooming it keeps coming. It appears to be unfazed by our summer heat. A couple of years ago she had a pet name for this tremendous bush, Maleficent. Remember the Angelina Jolie fantasy film? Today she simply calls her "Beauty". Carol has kindly sent me photos of this special rose and introduced me to an American native, the Noisette. Noisettes are prolific climbers. Carol keeps hers confined to a bush shape. Her advice for maintaining this beauty? "I cut her back 3 times a year. Out of self defense. " That's in Spring, Summer and Fall. Here's two interesting links about the Noisette rose: Noisettes- America's N

Fairytale Beauty of Columbines

Julie B., a longtime friend and former work colleague sent me a packet of columbine seeds enclosed in my Christmas card this year. I will pot the seeds today as it is in the mid 70's here, if you can believe it. Don't worry, I"ll bring them in for nightfall. We have a roller coaster of temperatures forecast for this week. Lavender wide is another of Julie's beautiful columbines. She gardens in Ft. Wayne, IN and the Upper Peninsula in MI. The Swan Pink and Yellow is in my backyard. I purchased these online from White Flower Farm. Update: Fedex or squirrels knocked the seed pots over 2 21, but fortunately, they were on a tray and none had germinated. Tip: The front porch isn't alw

Vintage Style

About twenty years ago, I discovered barkcloth fabric and fell in love. I indulged in a few throw pillows and have had them ever since. Recently, the guest bedroom decor was in discord for awhile with the purchase of the wingback chair. Once again, my love of prints put me in an awkward position. How to pull it all together? I found the answer online at Annie Selke. It's the Dash and Albert Ines micro hooked wool rug. The yellow paisley pattern, pinks and browns connected everything. aahhh.

Spring Stirrings, Imbolc

The Gaelic tradition of Imbolc or Saint Brigid's Day marks the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox around Feb. 1st. We have an expected high of 65 degrees today! I'm looking for signs of growth in the garden. Flora and fauna assure me that Spring isn't too far away. The hydrangeas are budding, Spanish blue bells, daffodils, and irises are peeking out. Even the paper bush has some blossoms starting to open. Standing close I can smell the honey scent. My cool weather herbs are looking fresh. The gold finches are starting to turn yellow again. Though, I'm still seeing plenty of dark eyed juncos to remind me that Spring isn't here yet. Inspiration for this post cam