Wednesday, September 30, 2020

This Month in the Cottage Garden: September 2020

The Stumpery

September's highlights included a major event and a new project. The event was the wedding of a dear friend's daughter for which I agreed to provide the flowers. The project was the design and installation of a stumpery in my garden. For both of these ventures I was blessed with the help of my talented grandson, Jonathan. 

 First the stumpery: Stumperies have been found in England since Victorian times. They are similar to rockeries, but with logs, roots, and bark instead of rocks. Artist and gardener, Edward Williams Cooke, created the first stumpery at Bidulph Grange, England, in 1856. They quickly became popular across Britain. Prince Charles built one at Highgrove House in 1980 using sweet chestnut roots. The largest in the world can be found at Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, Washington, USA. My desire to have my own stumpery took root (pardon the pun) when our beloved catalpa tree was felled. I thought it would be a great way to continue the 'life' of the tree a bit longer. So one weekend when two of my grandsons were visiting, I asked them to help their Pappy move logs. I first chose a location and cleared it of weeds. As you can see above, I sited it next to the outhouse that Duane commissioned his friend George to make for me. I decided to put down landscape fabric as the area was infested with Japanese stilt grass. I wisely asked Jonathan, with his experience of creating miniature gardens, to select the best logs and come up with a design. I would be in charge of the plantings. Duane purchased bags of pine nuggets for the finishing touch.

Jon selected the logs and instructed Duane and Harry on their placement. (Sorry Harry, I didn't take a  picture of you.)

When the logs were in place, I transplanted hellebores from the woodland walk. Stumperies usually have ferns, but the deer often eat mine. This area is frequented by deer, so hellebores seemed the best bet. Then Jon sprinkled pine nuggets around to hide the landscape fabric.

As you can see, we didn't use only catalpa logs. Jon added a door to this interesting stump.

I told Jon about the stumpery at my friend Jenny Rose Carey's garden, Northview. It is very much larger than mine and is the home to gnomes. At Jon's suggestion, we browsed Amazon to find some suitably scaled-down gnomes for my little stumpery. Jon had fun placing them in their new home.

The gnome house, bottom right, was made by George who constructed the outhouse

On the other side we made a chicken garden. The new gardens anchor the outhouse nicely

The wedding: I felt honored to be asked to make the bouquets for the wedding of my friend's daughter, using flowers from my garden. I was nervous because I had never done this before, but Jon reassured me that we could do this. It was to be a very small affair, due to Covid, with just parents and siblings instead of the large number of guests previously invited to attend. The bride had no attendants, just two little flower girls - the bride's niece and the groom's niece. I made the bride's bouquet and a posy for each little girl. I added a boutonniere for the groom. Jon's help was invaluable.

We were limited by the small number of early September blooms. These are some we chose. I wish there had been roses, but we only had a couple of buds.

We gathered flowers very early in the morning, picking far more than we would use to give us plenty of choice. I decided to make hydrangea 'Limelight' the focus of the bride's bouquet. We chose tiny zinnias and the like for the little girls -- matching them to the color of their dresses. Carnations plus yarrow 'The pearl' would work for the groom.

A few weeks earlier, Jon and I practiced by following a U-tube video. We learned how to use floral tape, covering it with ribbon, and securing with a pearl-headed pin. There were more blooms available that day.

The final result: hydrangeas 'Limelight', sedum 'Autumn Joy', pale pink zinnias, a rose bud, and sweet autumn clematis.

The flower girls' posies and the groom's boutonniere. I wrapped the posies in paper doilies.

The beautiful bride, handsome groom, and adorable flower girls. It was a perfect day.

Autumn arrived on the 22nd. Right on cue, my garden began to look very fall-like. I am not ready for this, but I've started cutting back dead plants and Duane is tuning up the leaf blower.

Hydrangea 'Limelight' in its autumn colors

The path to the front porch -- and I haven't even decorated for fall yet

Since I took the previous picture, I changed the wreath on the door and put pumpkins on the bench. But, as I said, I don't feel ready for the end of the growing season. Where did summer go?

I am linking with Sarah at Down by the Sea in Dorset, England. Let's go through her garden gate to see her beautiful September garden. 

I wish you a happy change-of-season wherever you grow.

Love, Pamela x 

Goldenrod, Solidego

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: September 2020 -- Plus Announcement of Winners

'Glorious gleam' nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Gardeners know that ever year is different. The plant that failed last year is magnificent this one, and vice versa. The 2020 gardening season is true to form: with nasturtiums that made a poor show in 2019 full of leaves and flowers now, roses performing better than usual, and tomatoes having their first good year for ages. On the other hand, my milkweed failed to appear, the sunflowers got the sunflower stem borer and, as many of you know, I lost my Turks' cap lilies to the red lily beetle. These are minor setbacks, however, in a year full of horrors. I am just thankful for all that I have blooming on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Thank you Carol of May Dreams Gardens for bringing some welcome flowers and sunshine into our lives at this troublesome time.  Here are a few of my blooms, today.

Top left: Trailing nasturtium; top right: Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi); bottom right: 'Glorious gleam' nasturium; bottom left: Tithonia 'Torch Red'

Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is a noxious weed popping up all over the place. It is native to this area. I love its pretty white flowers and don't remove the plant unless I find it growing near the goats' pasture -- it is very toxic to grazing animals.  There is a nice clump in the kitchen garden at the end of the cutting bed. Most of the vegetables are finished now. I still have flowers on the zucchini plant, but they aren't developing into fruit. I don't expect any more squash because the weather is quite cold. The chilly temperatures are due to smoke in the upper atmosphere from the terrible wildfires out West. I pray for those who have lost their homes and their loved ones, and for the brave firefighters. Also, for those in the path of Hurricane Sally. As I said, 2020 is full of horrors, beginning with the pandemic. I am so blessed, so thankful, to be safe in my beautiful gardens.

The Kitchen Garden

White asters in a container near the potting shed

I was hoping the helianthus would be blooming by now at the entrance to the kitchen garden. It isn't, so I put pots of mums each side of the arbor. As compensation for no helianthus, a volunteer morning glory appeared this week. It's color is stunning.


Arbor into the kitchen garden with budding helianthus, tubs of mums, and a stunning morning glory.

As I said, my roses are especially lovely this year. Rosa 'Peace' is attracting those bees that brave the cooler weather.

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Purples and Blues

It is officially autumn in one week; my garden is changing rapidly with leaves turning to brown, red, and gold. There is leaf litter on all grassy surfaces.

The leaves of the vibernum (left) have already changed color

The pond has been particularly beautiful all season with constant water lilies.

 Lots blooming in the Serenity Garden: Turtlehead (Chelone 'Hotlips'), sedum 'Autumn Glory',  foxgloves, and hydrangea:

The Serenity Garden's flowers

Surprise! A miniature hosta blooming in one of Jon's gardens.


I am happy to announce the winners in my website-launch event. There were a total of 14 friends in the U.S.A who left comments on my Facebook page and on this blog after reading my new website,

 The winner of the book, Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden by Adrian Higgins, is Ellen who tends Bryant Gardens that I wrote about last time. Katharine, of Stroudsburg PA, won the gift voucher. The Country Gardens Magazine: Summer 2020 issue containing the article about my gardens, goes to Alana who blogs at Ramblin' with AM.

Thank you to everyone who left lovely comments and expressed support for my efforts. Congratulations to all the winners! 

Wishing you a Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, everyone!


Pamela x

Goldfinches are flocking to the seeds of the cone flowers

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