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!





Two small additions to the garden with big impact

Spent Spring flowers left me with two big blocks of green. There's nothing wrong with green, but I like to break it up some. A spontaneous purchase at Home Depot solved my problem. I fell in love with brightly blooming Red Riding Hood penstemon and a steely blue phlox, in the dwarf Flame series, ''variedad enana". I was supposed to be shopping for a couple of annuals for pots. The quandary was where to plant my new perennials. After looking at things with a critical eye, I found a home for them. The penstemon are in front of my Swan Pink and Yellow columbine. I hope that next year the penstemons will be in growth mode, when the columbine is in bloom. I thought that penstemons wo

Flower Gallery Late May 2017

We've had an incredible amount of rain this month which is reassuring as April was dry. I'm aware of two plants that didn't enjoy it. My new daphne odorata bush is wilty and some old fashioned sedum have yellowing leaves. Here are a few plants that have enjoyed the rain. Purple Heart Brite Eyes Rose Chinese Aster Pickerel Rush Black and Blue Sage Echinacea Spirea Neon Heuchera Blackout

Hybrid Echinacea

We have many plantings that were chosen with pollinators in mind. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds bring a garden to life. I had not considered the gift of hybridized plants. This echinacea came up from seed. I rate it as one of the showiest that I have. I've waited for two years to see these blooms. I don't know what was holding it back, but it was worth the wait. Actually, I do know of two problems, a lawn mower accident and one small Maltese. This echinacea has a phenomenal scent. It has a top note of honey with a finish of jasmine. I have mid-pink and Fragrant Angel (white) echinaceas close by. I suspect this is their combined offspring. It opens as a blush color, then lavender

Potting up for summer

I've slowed the pace of perennial plantings in the yard, so it's time to pot annuals. I'm sure you've heard of the "Thriller, Filler and Spiller" formula. I've never been very good with filling my pots. I'm just not excited about them the way I am with my perennials. I had a revelation this year about my potted plant past. I typically skip the filler.** This year I will follow the formula more diligently. My sister, Annette on the other hand is an expert. One tip she advises is overfill the pots with plants. Don't give the plants too much space as they are there for only one season. I still don't do that on Annette's scale, but I'm adding more. She uses potted plant groupings on her

Duke Gardens May 2, 2017

We had the perfect May day to visit Duke Gardens. The sky was a beautiful clear blue and temps were only in the 70's. I hope you enjoy the slide show. This doesn't begin to cover all of the garden offerings. This is such a wonderful place to visit. I highly recommend it when you are in Durham.

Create a Private Sitting Space with Trees

Duke Gardens has two magnificent examples of training a tree over a bench using magnolia and weeping bald cypress. I'm fortunate to have a home that came with some mature plantings. One of these is a weeping cherry tree. We found an artistic bench at Center Fest several years ago, which now sits below the Cherry and looks over the garden pond. The tree gives me shelter from the sun and even small rain showers. The Duke Garden trees have a canopy behind the bench and to the sides. My Cherry tree's canopy is high and in the front of the bench. Consider these ideas when you create your "secret" space. Weeping Bald Cypress Another view of the Weeping Bald Cypress Bench under Weeping Ch

Yet, another unusual bird sighting Update May 8, 2017

One of my neighbor's took a photo of this "turkey" in their backyard. What is going on? Pheasants and turkeys in Northgate Park? We are bordered by a creek and walking trails on one side of the community. Perhaps, this is why we are seeing them. I suspect that they are losing habitat somewhere else though. Below, is another neighbor's photo taken on May 6, 2017. 5 8 2017- The consensus on our neighborhood list serve is this isn't a wild turkey. It's more likely she is a Royal Palm Heritage breed, not used for meat, but insect control. Here's one more photo of her that was shared today. This will be my last turkey post, until we hear some good news. Hopefully, she will be reunited w

Happy May Day!

Some of my favorite pinks and blues are thriving on this beautiful day. I took the photos on April 30. Have a beautiful May Day, wherever you are. It's a peaceful May Day here in Durham, NC. It's slightly breezy and overcast as we wait for evening storms. Please take note of the budding columbine sent to me from my good friend, Julie in Ft. Wayne. This is a hybrid from her garden. Enjoy the slide show.