In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
October, 2006
Regional Report

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Even a small twig tepee adds a decorative element amidst these colorful greens.

A New Cottage Garden

I've always loved the look of a cottage garden that combines annual and perennial flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruits, but never felt I had the room to add one. Next year will be different.

Even though we've had our first freeze, there's still so much to be done in the garden. In fact, this is when I get my real inspiration for next year. I feel so smug when my chores are finished for winter, but an even better reason for getting everything finished is because it gives me a blank slate to work with. I can see the unbounded potential for next year.

A Garden Centerpiece
I love to haunt the garden centers at this time of year because you never know what great bargains you'll find amidst the Halloween and Christmas paraphernalia. A couple of weeks ago I brought home a lovely, huge, square, terra cotta pot that's perfect for a fountain. My next find was a wrought iron tuteur that has now become the centerpiece of my vegetable garden.

Well, with this lovely new centerpiece, I'm going to turn my utilitarian vegetable garden into a cottage garden. I'm particularly fond of the idea since my vegetable garden is in my front yard -- not exactly a designer look.

With the tuteur in place in the center, I moved in my sorrel, tarragon, and thyme to become permanent residents of the new cottage garden. At the back of the bed, I started a long-awaited asparagus bed, and also moved in some winter onions. I've already made plans to add 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard next year, as well as alpine strawberries, nasturtiums, and annual herbs like opal basil and fennel.

I will still have plenty of room in the other beds for the other vegetables, but I think I'll work at dressing them up a bit also. For several years I've used bamboo tepees for cucumber and runner beans. For next year I plan to order finials to go on the tepees to finish them with style.

I've left the grape trellis in place and will make a greater effort to keep the grapes in bounds next year. I finally have a great crop of morning glories that return annually to join the grapes on their trellis, perfect for a cottage garden look.

Last year I moved in currants to form a hedge on one side, and this past spring I added low-bush blueberries to the other side, I have several bush cherries scattered about the yard to move into the garden to form the "bones" and give some more architectural integrity to the garden. Now all I need to add to the mix are some old-fashioned annual flowers, perhaps cosmos, larkspur, and poppies, and I should have a cottage garden extraordinaire. I can't wait to see how it looks next year with its tapestry of flowers, fruits, and vegetables!


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