A Cottage Garden

Mackinac Island, Michigan, is any perennial garden’s heaven on earth.  The drainage is perfect.  The breeze off the water and the cool nights keeps fungus at bay.  It is a lean life; there is not much soil.  But it is a good life.  The air and the water are clean.  The color of the flowers is brilliant.  Though the island is far north, the water is a mitigating circumstance.  Most anything hardy for me in the Detroit area is hardy there. Mackinac Island?  A really great place for a cottage garden.

A summer cottage on the island means there is no particular call for evergreen structure. There is no need for a winter landscape.  The summer perennial gardens can be the sum total of the landscape.This particular garden-every shrub was a rose.  The thriving Rosa Glauca at the top right of this picture was beautiful in bloom, and equally beautiful in leaf. The large stands of shasta daisies, beautiful.  

What exactly is a cottage garden?  My understanding is as follows. The origin of cottage gardens reside firmly on English turf; such is their history.  Big, easy, loose, breezy, informal, friendly, meadowy-a cottage garden gives space for every plant to be the best it can be.  No edging.  No roll call. Local-most assuredly. Situated in the village or neighborhood-of course.  Low key-by this I mean artless.  A hello garden.  Come round to see the columbines-they look rather good today.  Later, the delphiniums might be representing.  No need for a letter-just a friendly call.  The delphiniums look great-want to pop by for a glass of wine and a tour?      

Cottage gardens are welcoming. A stone walk leading to the house from a pair of garden gazebos asked for some planting, some softening.  Rock garden plants thrived here.  Armerias, thymes, sedums, heathers and heaths, saxifrage, iris setosa, flax-I could go on.  I planted this walk with the intent that the way to the front door would be a garden experience.  Walkways can be planted.  A walk can be a garden, should you plan for this.  Any tall plant in a walk can slow down the pace.  If you have a garden, you are in charge of the experience of that garden.  This garden says hello, welcome, how are you doing-so pleased to see you.  All of this exchange, easy and exuberant.      

Herbs played a big role in the plant material specified for this cottage garden.  This patch of dill-beautiful. Cottage gardens suggest utility as much as they suggest the beauty of nature.  The generous intersection of the beauty of nature, flowers, herbs, and optimitistic community.  This makes for a cottage garden.    

Hollyhocks-what could be better?  This stand, accompanied by the salvia hybrid May Night- this is a good look.  Old fashioned hollyhocks-most every cottage gardener would fall for them, as well they should.        

The Carefree Beauty rose hedge across the front of this cottage provided structure, and stature.  Shrub roses are so easy to love. They are equally easy to make happy. Why would you not have them?  A Mackinac garden is different than most-the spring and the summer run together.  The dianthus blooms with the roses.  There is but one big blooming each season.  This garden is particular to a place.  Your garden is equally as particular.  Take notes.       

Plants thrive, given a judicious placement.  This stand of lamb’s ears-really happy.  Should you have and love a cottage garden, place every plant in the spot you deem the best.  Plan, and plan again.  Plant.  Once you have planted. watch what happens.  Interfere as little as you can.  Expect to hear music.    

Certain plants speak to the cottage garden idea.  Shrub and species roses, monardas, salvias, hollyhocks.  Boltonia, shasta daisies, astilbe, hyssop, dill, fennel, species delphiniums, columbines, echinacea, asters, Japanese Anemones-and so on.   There are lots of perennial plants out there.  A version of spring arrived today in my zone; it is about time.       

The roses, the herbs, the tomato plants, the rock garden plants, the perennials, the meadow, this and the structure that-write a recipe, and cook.  It is spring.