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🌸 3 unusual, must-have perennials for your garden 🌸
+ a free gift to my readers from ORTA!
PS. There is a gift for you halfway through this email so stick around. <3
THE SOUGHT-AFTER ENGLISH COTTAGE GARDEN
Many of you know that I help design gardens, and while each is different and designed to bring the home and it’s owner’s personality to life, the hardest garden to create in North Carolina heat is an English-style cottage garden.
(Naturally, this is my personal style and what I’ve always tried to create on my property. The universe loves a good prank.)
For years I have been learning the hard lessons of what perennial and annual flowers will and will not survive here. I started out like all of us, flipping through catalogs and admiring Floret Flowers from afar, thinking surely all these gorgeous lacy things could thrive in my newly amended soil! Well, let me tell you — they all cannot, ha.
The primary difference between England and North Carolina is…well, everything. We have endless clay. We have heavy heat. We have months without rain. We have thick humidity. This combination has battered and killed quite the plant collection on my property and I have wisely begun to follow the guidance of more experienced gardeners, slowly learning what native flowers will better take their place.
It has actually surprised me how easy it is to mimic the English-style cottage garden with our native “dupes” if you will.
Garden design is more often about the texture, color, and composition that it is the exact varieties of plants.
If you stick with (1) same muted color palette, (2) plant in large swathes with some intentional structured borders, and (3) include a few large, stately expected staples (hydrangeas, dahlias, peonies, climbing clematis, honeysuckle) — it will feel the way you want. Extra points for figuring out how to incorporate grasses.
One day I will write everything I’ve learned about creating an English cottage garden here, but for now I will share with you 3 invaluable perennials to use that you likely have not heard of!
BUT FIRST, A GIFT FOR YOU + IMPORTANT PSA
I met Anne and her handmade, self-watering Orta pots and immediately fell in love with both of them. Another passenger on the train trying to make it easy and earth-friendly for everyone to grow their own food and flowers from seed! 🚂 👩🏻🌾
She designed these GORGEOUS terracotta containers that help babies thrive and only need to be watered once a week. There is a reservoir underneath, and the plants absorb water through the terracotta as needed. ✨ There are 6 and 12-pot options, as well as the open squares and rectangles. ✨
If you are working hard to eliminate plastic in your gardening efforts or want something more beautiful on your kitchen windowsill, go get an Orta. (This is also a life-saver for people who travel!) Personally, I just want the world to return to things being handmade.
Anne has so generously offered to give all the Floricult readers a FREE factory second (while supplies last). Sign up for her email and get your lil gift, and maybe take a moment to share this with a gardening friend who would love it. Word-of-mouth makes the small business world go round. 🌎
*Note that you will need to pay $10 shipping for your free Orta pot, to help her cover the cost of getting it to you. :)
Top 3 Standouts From This Year
Among the dozens of new perennials I have tested in my own yard and others, here are the 3 new favorites that check every single possible box: Perennial! Drought tolerant! Compliment an English garden! But also compliment almost any other style! Attract a crazy amount of pollinators! Bloom nearly all spring, summer, and fall!
Yes, these are the gems.
Technically an herb and in the mint family, this is one of the rare small, evergreens that also adds a wave of color in the spring months. I have started to use it along pathways, at the edge of rock borders, or sprinkled into my raised beds. It can withstand the heat, but like all these plants, you do want to baby it for the first couple months until it gets established.
If it every looks scraggly or you don’t like it’s shape, just trim it. Occasionally a few branches will die out — just cut them out. You can trim it up to keep it tidy or let it be it’s wild self.
To be candid, this is a plant I saw a thousand times online and thought, “my lord, who would put that in their garden?” It just doesn’t do it for me in photos, and looks kind of weedy and wild? This all changed when I found some at the end of a season, it was still blooming (and looked so much better in person!), and had DOZENS of bees swarming it at the nursery. I had to shake them off to get the plants into my car. I took them home, planted them, watched a new swarm of bees arrive in front of my eyes, and drove right back to the nursery and bought five more.
These purple blooms stayed for MONTHS and I realized it was the plant I’d been searching for. Amidst a mix of grasses, echinacea, sedum, and others, it was the perfect filler that immediately made my bed look full.
If you are struggling to bring pollinators to your vegetable garden and have very little additional space for flowers, this is my #1 recommendation, without a doubt.
This is another plant you’d likely walk right past at the nursery. It’s quite small initially, primarily green, with itty bitty (usually) white flowers - although I’ve seen it in a pale purple too. It is sweet and delicate, considering its resilience and growing tendencies.
Calamint blooms foooorrrever. Months on end. Insects adore it for this, and it makes a beautiful border or filler between your larger taller flowers. It can grow in full sun but also tolerate partial shade, though you may have slightly fewer flowers. It also can handle fairly poor soils as a Mediterranean plant and would sit perfectly in an herb garden that features lavender, rosemary, and sage.
*Native note: Calamint and Hyssop are native to the North Carolina / Midwest region and Wall Germander is not. This is about the balance I try to strike on my property.
**Local note: If you are in the Triad, Franks Perennial Border Nursery usually has all three of these.
PS. It’s January and I’m working hard on making all my resources available so that none of us are limited to scheduled events. Please grab any of these that would be meaningfully helpful to you! I also just added a lil bundle deal in case you need ‘em all. :)
Until next week,
But always, to her, red and green cabbages were to be jade and burgundy, chrysoprase and porphyry. Life has no weapons against a woman like that. - Edna Ferber