5 Steps to an Easy Bird-Friendly Cottage Garden
Cottage Garden Style
Cottage garden style is a casual, colorful, easy, beautiful and cheerful celebration of flowers and herbs. I started small and continued to add to my garden. It is much less overwhelming to do ‘baby steps’, rather than to craft a large garden all at once.
Start with Organic Soil
To reduce the amount of watering and fertilizing later, start right by using organic soil that is rich in nutrients. You will enjoy the gorgeous abundant blooms of happy plants that are thriving in ideal conditions. Healthy, well-nourished plants need little to no fertilizer.
One of the best things about this type of garden is its plant density. This dense growth keeps roots cool and moist while crowding out any weeds. Moreover, some seeds will naturally fall to the ground and provide a whole new crop of flowers the following spring.
How To Improve Clay Soil from essortment
First Step to a New Garden
All new gardens should start the same way:
- assess the area for the amount of sunlight it receives in a day
- determine if the spot is normally dry or moist
- if your soil is not ‘gardeners dream loam', add organic materials as needed to make it a great place for new growth to thrive
How To Create a New Garden Bed in 5 Easy Steps
Second Step: Define Your Garden Borders
- I love the old picket fences, and incorporate them to delineate the boundaries of my gardens. I think they add to the old-fashioned feeling cottage gardens evoke.
- Perhaps you would rather use stones or some other materials to outline your garden. That’s the beauty of a cottage garden-there are no rules except yours!
Flowers for a Cottage Garden
Third Step: Choose Your Plants
For me that is the most fun of the whole project. I prefer to use mostly perennial plant material, but you can certainly add annuals for a bright pop of instant color.
My favorite plant choices, which thrive in sun to part-shade conditions, include:
- Lady’s Mantle
- Lemon Balm
- Bee Balm
- Joe Pye Weed
- NY Asters
- Weigela bushes
- Climbing Roses
- Coral Bells
- Bleeding Hearts
- Bachelor Buttons
- Anise Hyssop
- Coral honeysuckle
- Lettuce (all varieties)
- Trumpet Vine
- Million Bells
Incorporate the plants that you love, and that work in your sunlight situation. As to choosing colors, I like to mix and match for a very informal look, as if Nature painted the picture herself.
But if you wish to use your favorite colors, or coordinate them with your house color, or use complimentary colors, then that is what you should do. Again, there are no hard and fast rules with this type of garden.
There’s something in blossom all summer long. It is so satisfying to walk around every morning and see the newest flowers that have opened.
How to Install a Soaker Hose
Fourth Step: Provide a Water Source
Wind a drip hose in and around your cottage garden to ensure your plants get all the moisture they need and you won’t have to haul out the hose at all! Water ends up where the roots can access it easily. There are inexpensive timers available at local garden centers and online. Just set the on/off time and duration so your garden is watered automatically.
Once established, cottage gardens require a lot less water than traditional gardens. Mine doubles as a rain garden, so I rarely have to water it unless we have an extended dry spell during the hottest part of the summer. Also, my cottage garden faces towards the east. It receives about 6 hours of sunlight, most of which comes during the morning hours.
Fifth Step: Mulch Your Garden
Mulching your garden is always an important step. Mulch holds in precious moisture and holds down weeds, plus it provides that finishing touch that pulls everything together. Use organic mulch like leaf mold or bark, and you have added another layer of nutrients as the mulch breaks down over time.
- I make my own leaf mold by filling up a large black plastic leaf bag with leaves in the spring; tie it up and let it ‘cook’ in a sunny place for several months. It will break down into usable mulch and be ready for spreading on your gardens in the fall.
Cottage Gardens Attract Beneficial Insects
Turtlehead Attracts Hummers and Beneficial Bees
List of Fragrant Flowers
- Over 60 of The Most Fragrant Flowers, Trees, Shrubs and Vines for Your Garden: Organic Gardening
Organic Gardening presents an extensive expert list of over sixty of the most fragrant flowers to perfume your garden and flower beds. The list includes the sweetest-smelling annuals, perennials, roses, shrubs, trees, and vines.
Attract Songbirds and Hummingbirds
Plants that produce nectar, seeds and seed heads are helpful for wild song birds. Nectar plants provide nutritious food during the warmer months; then in the wintertime the seed heads supply valuable nourishment when other seed sources are scarce.
Birds that will eat the seeds during the wintertime: Sparrows, Towhees, Juncos, Chickadees, Doves, Finches, Quail, Thrushes, Cardinals among others
Never use toxic weed killers or chemical fertilizers. Stick with natural and organic alternatives that do not harm us, our wildlife or our water supply.
The best gardens are those that bestow beauty and fragrance for us, as well as nourishment for wildlife and beneficial insects.
Remember it is always best to use native plants. They have adapted to your particular climate and soil conditions. Native songbirds, butterflies and bugs look for those familiar and useful plants and shrubs.
Your new cottage garden will have many far-reaching benefits for you and your local wildlife. Enjoy its fragrance and easy-care beauty; and know that you have made a positive difference by creating a much-needed habitat for birds and beneficial insects.
Organic Deer and Rabbit Repellent
List of Rabbit Resistant Plants
List of Deer Resistant Flowers
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Do You Choose Garden Flowers With Birds, Butterflies and Beneficial Insects in Mind?
Add Your Own Finishing Touches
Incorporate a bench, bird bath, fountain, gazing globe, sundial or any other decorations that enhance your cottage garden experience.
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