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!





Wild Bergamot

This is my new favorite summer bloomer. I first saw this in of course a British gardening magazine. I love plants that have a long bloom period, soft colors and attract pollinators. In 2015 I planted Wild Bergamot seeds which did not come to fruition. Fortunately, White Flower Farm added Wild Bergamot plants to their extensive inventory in the Spring 2017 catalog. I ordered three and planted them in a part sun area. They are between some fairly aggressive Black and Blue Sage and a white butterfly bush. The Bergamot started to bloom this week. It is a type of bee balm, Monarda fistulosa. I've had multiple bees feeding on the blossoms. Soft lavender Wild Bergamot Mine are paler than t

Artful Combinations, June 2017

Here are a few combinations that have worked well in the garden. Often, they start with serendipity and then I keep building on it. Make sure you scroll to the last photo from Michigan. It's worth it. Early June- Orange Cosmos and Scabiosa Ochroleuca These just keep re-seeding themselves each year. Late June- This garden bed was inspired by meadow gardens that I've seen in the UK and in plenty of garden magazines. It starts with lots of soft blues in Spring and morphs into summer colors. A few purples have been added: salvia and also pincushion flowers. I'll continue to build on the blues in this garden. The green plant on the right is a blackberry lily. It blooms later in the season.

First bouquets are still coming

Thanks to my neighbor, Carol L. for sharing her first bouquet of summer with me. Carol also shared the great photos of her Noisette Rose with me in an earlier post. You can use the search field at the top of the page to find the post. Search on "rose". Stargazer lily, gladiolas and dahlia- Beautiful!

Summer Solstice 2017

Astronomical summer rolled in at 12:24 a.m. today. We continue to have abnormally wet weather, so I took a few photos on mid-summer's eve, June 20th while we had a little sunshine. 6/20/17 Mother Catbird protecting her eggs- photo by Ian We are adding depth to a hedge between our yard and next door to protect smaller wildlife. That will be a topic for a future blog post. 6/20/17 A particularly happy photo of Fairy Tale pinks with ladybug. There are many ladybugs on my day lily blossoms in the front yard. They eat aphids. No need for spray here. If I did do anything, it would be to use a homemade spray with just water and dish detergent. I've had to use it on vines in the backyard a few

It's National Pollinator Week! Tried and True, the White Butterfly Bush

I know its not fashionable these days to extol the virtues of Butterfly bushes. Many people see these as invasive. I have not found that to be the case here. I will confess that this one came from my mother's compost pile at least fifteen years ago. I haven't had seedlings pop up in the yard very often nor I have seen this occur at our local park where butterfly bushes have been planted. Our weather seems to have such extremes that I suspect it keeps them under control. I also dead head more often to extend the bloom period. The buds on the bush opened several days ago and no pollinators. Today, happily that has changed. I love the scent, beauty and of course the nectar it offers

Summer Gardenias and Memories

One summer bouquet leads to another. Our neighbor, Sara surprised me with fresh cuttings from her beautiful gardenia. Thank you! The old fashioned gardenia in our yard died about three years ago. I was advised to get rid of it when I first moved here. I declined and it lived 20 years more. We replaced it with a "Frost Proof" gardenia in 2015. It's still pretty small and has smaller blossoms than my old fashioned one. I grew up with a big gardenia below my bedroom window. I loved to press my nose against the window screen to smell the beautiful scent before going to sleep. This was back in the day, when you could safely sleep with your window open on the first floor and didn't have cen

Proof of Pollinators- June

I've decided to capture proof of pollinators on the plants in my garden with photos. I suppose all of us have purchased plants that were supposed to be good for pollinators, but it didn't actually happen. I have seen spirea listed as a good shrub for pollinators. I haven't seen any such activity on my "Neon" spirea shrubs. Perhaps this variety doesn't have much nectar. I've also observed that we don't have as many bumble bees this year. I saw carpenter bees in early Spring. They are quite aggressive with other bees, if not people. As I noted earlier, we've had a super long wet Spring. Is this weather or carpenter bee related? This week we have returned to the high 80's and the 90'

First Bouquet of the Season

I'm typically reluctant to bring my flowers indoors, but a heavy rain storm broke a stem of my favorite home grown hybrid echinacea. One flower led to another and now I have a small bouquet. In the vein of one thing leading to another....... Here's a group of dining room photos. The bouquet- echinacea, buddleia, yarrow, and Russian Sage The dining room (really more like a nook). That's 1945 for you. Wall art- These are postcards from Glastonbury, UK. Hare imagery is very popular in the UK. The frames are from reclaimed barnwood, purchased at Parker and Otis. Please forgive the angles. I was trying to avoid my reflection in the photo. Why stop now? A friend from work gifted me this b

More Daylilies!

This is a beautiful lily from local hybridizer Dr. Robert Elliott of Durham. Lady Elizabeth, a true ivory. In the morning light you can see a crystalline effect on the petal ridges. I haven't been able to capture it in the photo, but I'll keep trying. A profusion of Fairy Tale Pinks. These are truly peach. Think peach sherbet. One of my favorites.

Dreamy Sunset

We had a painterly sunset on May 28, 2017. Take the time to enjoy the sky on a summer evening. I just wish I could show you the lightning bugs.

June is for Lilies in Zone 7

June is glorious in general, but one of the reasons is lilies. I have many daylilies and a cluster of Asiatic lilies. The daylily show has started with Barbara Mitchell, Fairy Tale Pink and an unknown gorgeous ruffled yellow. These plants require little to no fertilizer. I use organic bone meal and organic mushroom compost for the initial planting. That's it. I haven't applied any additional fertilizer since. I do divide them every three or four years. Fairy Tale Pink Barbara Mitchell Yellow unknown- Don't you love the texture and frills? Asiatic lily- This opens as a soft cream and fades up to white.