Cottage Reflections

May 2014

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02 - cottage reflections By linda stilkowski for the free press COTTAGE GARDENERS kNOW MAINTAIN- ING TWO HOMES COMES WITH A PRICE – DOUbLE THE TOIL AND TROUbLE – bUT THE SACRIFICES ARE WORTH IT. To keep the stress levels down, Shelmerdine Garden Center greenhouse manager Deanne Cram suggests working with what you've got. "There are so many elements that go into picking the perfect plant for the cottage, depending on the time spent at the cottage, the conditions and lighting," she said. "I think the route I would go is to keep it simple, represent the seasons or time most spent there and keep the feel more natural. Don't fight it, work with it." Aside from the challenges of cottage gardening – poor soil and competition from aggressive native plants – gardeners must also be respectful of the local wildlife and mindful of the damage it can do. One great perennial plant Cram recommended adding to the cottage landscape is yarrow (Achillea). This genus has its roots as a prairie native wildflower with flat-topped clusters of white flowers, but modern cultivars have been bred in vivid shades of yellows, pinks and reds. "It will naturalize and will tolerate many different soil types, (is) drought-tolerant and tends to not be a favourite (food) to wildlife." Some other proven prairie-hardy perennials that flourish in the long, lazy days of summer are black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) with its cheerful, yellow daisy-like blooms; blanket flower (Gaillardia), a brightly coloured butterfly magnet, and stonecrop (Sedum), a large family of succulents ranging from statuesque specimens to thick, creeping groundcovers. "Within these perennial families there are so many great choices. I also love perennial grasses like feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster) and blue fescue to keep the natural look flowing right into your yard. Add in some great annuals for a bright burst of colour – lantana and verbena are great drought-tolerant sun lovers that know how to put on a show." Shrubs are a good addition for filling in bare spots of the landscape, adding interest and increasing privacy. Cram suggested viburnums, lilacs, forsythia and evergreens for their tough constitutions, but noted no plant may be immune to a really hungry animal. As much as everyone loves a fresh garden tomato or crunchy carrot, growing vegetables at the cottage can be a challenge as they require PLANT PICKS FOR THE COTTAGE LANDSCAPE VARIETIES OF CORAL bELLS MAkE GOOD CHOICES FOR DRY, SHADY bEDS. photo courtesy of Judy white.

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