Now is the time to get all the spring cleaning done, in your cottage and your garden. In the cottage, it’s finally warm enough to open the windows for an hour or two in the afternoon and dust the bookcases, pare down the winter accessories and bring in some flowers. Tulips and daffodils are everywhere at the store and will soon be up in the garden, too. I like to change the fabrics and pillows this time of year and lighten everything up, to make it feel more like a garden inside and out.
In the garden, it’s a great time to pick up any garden debris, rake up any old leaves and start pulling out those little weeds. Now is the time to weed, before they get those long roots that are almost impossible to pull out later in the spring and summer. I like to wait until I see the bulbs peeking up, before I start weeding. It’s such fun to find a small hyacinth or crocus as you clear out the garden bed. It’s too wet to dig in our clay soil, but by this time next month, the vegetable garden will be ready for peas and potatoes, with broccoli and cabbage to follow soon after. This year, I want to move the vegetable garden to the other side of the cottage and add some roses. Roses over the small seating area and perennials along the fence, to bring in the bees and other pollinators, along with hummingbirds and butterflies later in the summer. The current vegetable garden is going to be an herb and tea garden, along with fruit shrubs and more flowers.
What are your plans for spring?
This is the time of year, when we start looking at websites and catalogs for the perfect rose for our garden. It’s too early to shop for potted roses in our cooler climate, but the catalogs and websites make it feel like spring is right around the corner. In a few more weeks, we should start seeing daffodils and other bulbs starting to bloom. Then, the nurseries start displaying all the potted roses, in full bloom. I have such a difficult time resisting anything pink and fragrant that I’m almost afraid to stop at the big box stores. Even so, at least one beauty finds its way home to my garden.
It may be too early to plant roses, but it’s not too early to plan for them. February is such a wonderful time to go out in the garden and decide where to add a new bed or find the perfect rose, to grow up the side of the garden shed. I am very fortunate to live close enough to a well know rosarium that I can go out and choose my roses. But, many people order online from nurseries that specialize in roses of all classes and colors. There are also the bagged roses, which show up in big box stores in early spring. Now, some people see these as less desirable, but I’ve found some wonderful shrub roses this way and often on clearance. And of course, it’s hard to resist the potted roses, often already blooming that will be available later in the spring.
Whatever you decide to do, research what roses will do best in your area. We have long winters, so many of the old fashioned damasks and gallicas do very well in our climate. People with short winters and hot summers may want to consider tea roses or noisettes. If you live in a coastal area, then rugosas might be a good choice. Of course, if you live in a climate similar to England, you will probably be able to grow a large variety of roses. The important thing is to do your research, know what zone you live in and make sure you’re getting a healthy rose that will do well in your garden.
Valentine’s Day is the holiday of flowers. Roses are a favorite choice, especially pink or red. There’s nothing like a bouquet of red roses, especially when they’re a gift from someone you love. Of course, lilies and tulips are nice choices, too. And flowers dress up the cottage, quite nicely. Bring a little romance to your winter months and enjoy a reminder of the garden, even while it snows.
There’s something wonderful about sitting by the fire, curled up in a big chair and watching the snow fall. All cozy inside, while it’s so cold outside that the panes of window glass are frosted on the corners. There are no roses now, but the canes stand guard at the doorway, all thorns and a few dead leaves. In time, they will be covered with blooms, but for now the snow falls and everything is covered in white. By morning, it will look like a winter wonderland outside. But it will still be warm and cozy, sitting by the fire.
For many of us, a cottage with roses brings back memories of our favorite childhood stories. The cozy cottage with the ivy-covered chimney and roses growing over the doorway, where one would be safe from worries beyond the garden. At cottage with roses, I hope we can recapture a bit of that magic while sharing our love of gardening, smaller homes and especially roses.
What is it about cottage gardens that make them so popular? I would say it’s the mixture of plants we find in them, all growing happily together. In one bed, there’s may be a fragrant pink rose bush shading a head of broccoli or cabbage. Lavender and other herbs compete for sun along the garden border and bunches of lettuce and spinach are tucked in wherever they will fit. Sweet woodruff and strawberries grow among peonies and daisies. A climbing red rose frames the gated entry, welcoming all into this charming space. It’s such a magical mixture of food, herbs and flowers that it brings to mind all the fairy tale gardens we remember from our childhood.