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!





Abnormally Dry

So, if you've noticed a slow down on photos, here is why. The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council has confirmed that we are indeed classified as Abnormally Dry. We've had a fairly gentle summer until mid-August, so that was great, but we haven't received significant rain fall in several weeks. I've posted a photo of the columbines that Julie sent me from Ft. Wayne, IN. They are surviving with a little help: mulch and water. I'm optimistic for them in Spring 2018. If they can survive their first summer in Durham, NC they are tough little plants. They are facing south with some protection from a small Japanese Maple. Julie's photo of the columbines in Ft. Wayne. I can hard

Mystery Weeds

Have you ever had mixed feelings about an unknown weed in your garden? This year I found what might be a tomato seedling in the front yard sun bed and transplanted it into the herb bed in the back. Voila! I have dry-grown cherry tomatoes. I noticed the fruits this week. I say dry-grown because we have had a serious dry spell here for the last few weeks. The other mystery weed reminded me of a tall phlox. so I kept it. I knew it probably wasn't a phlox, but you never know..... It turned out to be a milkweed, the host plants for monarch butterflies. I had planted some in another part of this bed about three years ago. The plants didn't return. I did not plant anymore milkweeds because

Autumn Equinox 2017

Autumn Equinox found me at a garden center. The traditional planting of pansies in pots is here. Photos will follow soon. In the meantime, one of my favorite grasses has started to open, Pink Muhly grass. I have a collection of five next door and one is way ahead of the others. Fortunately, the center point plant is the one in bloom. These have been a bit tricky for me. They are in a dry area and this is their second autumn here. The two that bloomed last year aren't showing any signs of blossoms yet. Fingers crossed that all five will have flowers soon. One day this will be mesmerizing when the sun sets. I tried a geometric pattern with these grasses. ::: ::: ::: :::

September Garden Magic by Mother Nature

I finally have some photos of hummingbirds. As mentioned on previous posts the Black and Blue Sage is a favorite of theirs. I was fortunate to catch a photo of a female using the Obedient plant, physotegia virginiana and the Black and Blue Sage. Obedient plant and female Ruby Throated hummingbird Hummingbird in the Black and Blue Sage Our little garden guy, Pan thru the flowers I'm thrilled to see a Black Swallowtail. We had so many caterpillars on the parsley that I expected to see more butterflies. Look closely and you will see the butterfly looking at a caterpillar. Maybe, checking out her offspring? Variegated Fritillary feeding on the peppermint blossoms Mourning doves enjoying the

Salvia Late Summer

Salvia is a great choice to keep your garden going into late summer and early fall. I deadhead all of these with the exception of the pink annual Salvia. The annual will keep going until November some years. I hadn't realized how many of my latest bloomers are Salvias. These photos were taken in early September. The lead photo has three salvias: peachy pink annual Salvia (it re-seeds each year), hot pink Salvia greggii, and Salvia Black and Blue sage. White perennial Salvia Purple blue perennial Salvia Black and Blue Sage (Salvia) A frequently referenced plant on this blog.

Deadheading for Extended Beauty

Some of my longest bloomers in the garden require deadheading to extend the show: Salvias, Butterfly Bushes, and Roses to name a few. Here's a few photos to prove it is worth the effort. Black and Blue Sage. I trim these rather than deadhead. Salvia Again, I trim these when the blossoms are spent. The butterfly bush is still providing food for the butterflies. Gomphrena in the pot. It's going longer than the petunias. I might replace the petunias with purple pansies soon and keep the gomphrena until they peter out. The perennial verbena is still going strong. I hope this survives the winter. I would love to have it again next year. The purple petunias have stopped. What's left of them