It’s still not time to begin planting here in central Indiana. Our official frost-free date is May 15. For the last month adhering to the COVID-19 stay-in-place orders, I’ve had plenty of time to search garden/nursery websites to select exactly what I’d like to plant this year. I’ve found some amazing things!

This is a picture of the front of my house, actually my condo, in 2015. I removed a small blooming crabapple from the left corner soon after I moved in. So you can see, I have lots of room for brand new beautiful flowers. I’m leaning toward using lots of perennials to keep down on flower bed maintenance, and plants that can take full sun and are drought tolerant.

You can barely see the very large peony just to the left of the sidewalk. It was a large mound covered with great big blooms. I love peonies, but their bloom time is so short and the stems and blooms bowed to the ground after a heavy spring rain. I hated to do it, but I removed it last fall. The happy part of the story is that I put the roots in a large planter, it survived the winter, and it’s beginning to sprout stems! Hooray!

Please watch this video about planting a cottage-style garden. Laura LeBoutillier is the owner of a video gardening blog, Garden Answer. She and her husband live in eastern Oregon on a huge homestead. Recently they purchased acreage next to their property that they will transform into a cutting flower garden. To say this girl has boundless energy and ambition would be an understatement. She’s always planting and always bringing new ideas. I’ve found Laura’s videos so friendly and helpful. She’s such an inspiration.

One day I was looking around her blog and found this video on planting a cottage-style garden. I was in love. Below is her video: “Tips on Planting a Cottage Garden.”

I like the idea of a cottage garden because it’s not supposed to be highly structured. That lends well to my tendency to fall in love with lots of different kinds of plants. I don’t need to plant an entire border of one plant. I can mix the border with a variety of annuals and perennials. Yep, this is going to work.

I don’t intend to use all of the plants that Laura did in her lovely garden. Like the allium – not sure about that one yet. But others really appealed to me. I’ve always loved the color combination of peach and lavender. To me, it’s soft, feminine, and pleasing. So, that’s the color palette I’m aspiring to. Here’s where I’m starting.

This is the third season for my Bobo® hydrangeas that I planted under my living room window. I’m loving hydrangeas and this variety is spectacular. You can see (above) they’re leafing out very nicely. Bobo® hydrangeas are dwarf shrubs but they have full-sized panicles that cover the branches from the ground to the top. They tolerate full sun, and have strong, sturdy branches that won’t flop over with wind and rain. They grow 36″ tall and spread 48″. I’m expecting good things for my Bobo’s this season. (Proven Winners)

Here’s another show stopper “The Lady Gardener” shrub rose from David Austin. I’ve always wanted David Austin roses. When I saw these in Laura’s cottage garden, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. This particular rose has a strong fragrance, large full blooms, and is highly disease resistant. In addition, they’re a soft apricot color and a vigorous repeat bloomer. I’m planting these on the side of my bed along the sidewalk. They grow 4′ tall and 4′ wide. I ordered 3 bare root roses and they’ll fill in the sidewalk bed very nicely.

Illuminati Tower™ from Proven Winners is a dwarf mock orange with a narrow and upright habit. The smell from mock orange blooms is unforgettable but a normal mock orange bush would not fit into my garden. This one won’t take up too much space either – perfect for my garden. It grows 36″ high and has a 18-24″ spread. I have some sort of perennial blue salvia in the bed that blooms in summer. I’m planting Illuminati Tower™ among the salvia. That way there will be color from spring through the summer in that spot in the corner of my bed near the front door.

These are selections for lavender color interest. First is Cat’s Pajamas nepeta.  Cat’s Pajamas gets only 12″ tall but spreads 18-20″. It’s a great choice for the border of my bed in a couple of places. It’s a prolific bloomer, but I may have to cut them back when it’s past its peak to encourage reblooming. It’s a small sacrifice for such a pretty plant.

My second lavender choice is Sweet Romance Lavender. Who doesn’t love the smell of lavender? To me, it’s such a clean and pleasing smell. So, I’m going to alternate Sweet Romance with Cat’s Pajamas to complete my border. Sweet Romance grows 12-18″ tall with an equal spread. It’s heat and drought tolerant. I can’t wait!

My final selection of perennials is this Siloam Peony Display daylily. It only grows 18″ tall, but it’s such a beautiful flower with peach-colored blooms – more like a peony than a daylily, according to the description. And it is a repeat bloomer if you remove the spent flower stalks before the plant begins to produce seed pods. This plant is so pretty!

I think that’s enough for now. I will bring some annuals into the cottage garden bed to fill in blank spaces until the perennials mature.

What are your plans for your flower beds this year? I’d love to hear about your inspiring garden news!

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