Happy Happy Quilt in the Hoop

Happy Happy Quilt in the Hoop via cottagemagpie.com

Happy Happy Quilt in the Hoop via cottagemagpie.com

Since the Scrappy Pink & Green Irish Chain is still being quilted, I thought you might like to see one of the other quilts that I have been slowly working on. I made the top last year during the Very Hard Summer, and finally got it pinned a few weeks ago. I did some basic straight line machine quilting and now I am putting one sunny yellow tie in the middle of each square.

Surprisingly, tying is pretty time consuming. You would think it would be so much faster than quilting… you know, “Oh, I’ll just throw a few ties on there and it’ll be done,” but in fact it’s a pretty slow and laborious process and something you have to enjoy for it’s meditative qualities. I definitely enjoy tying quilts, although I only do it if (a) I think the quilt would just be less without it, or (b) I am okay with the quilt taking a very long time to get done. [Read more...]

A Confection of Spring

Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

I am sometimes amazed at how different the garden looks now from when I first moved here. I mean, I don’t know why, really. I’ve worked on it for hours upon hours and made so many changes. But for some reason, at each given moment in time it seems like things are just going to stay that way forever. That you’re never going to get where you want to go. And yet, in the nearly six years we’ve lived here, things have changed so much.

When we first moved here there was grass, barkdust and a few overgrown rhododendrons. Nothing else. The end. I worked and worked and worked at it and it didn’t seem to get any better. I never thought I’d ever have anything pretty at all. But guess what? A few years later and all that work starts to accumulate and there’s little bits of cottage garden goodness all over the place.

Here’s some of the things that are blooming right now in my garden.

Lady Banks Rose
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Cottage Rose
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Knockout Rose Hedge and Catmint “Walker’s Low”
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Spanish Lavender
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

“Shirley” Poppies & Foxgloves
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Red Valerian & Clematis
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

“Superstition” Bearded Iris
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Is there anything blooming right now in your garden?

~Angela :-)

P.S. Linking up to May Dreams Gardens and An Oregon Cottage.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I have this ongoing battle with the front containers. Every year I get this idea that I want to plant them up with evergreens or perennials so that we’ll have foliage and interest year after year without having to buy starts at the local garden center. But then every year I realize after a winter of neglect that the perennials (or evergreens) are miserable and sad, really need to be just planted in the ground.

I’m not good with containers, have I mentioned that? When I say that I am a low-maintenance gardener, what I mean is that I don’t maintain anything. I mean, sure, I weed from time to time, and mow as often as necessary, but otherwise? It’s a cutthroat business, this garden of mine.

So this year, I decided that enough was enough. Annuals do well all season in the containers. They are welcoming and colorful. Sure, they’ll die this fall, but you know what? That’s perfectly okay. I’ll stick some evergreen clippings in the pots for the holiday season and that will be that. Problem solved.

Life is so much easier when you just accept the reality of who you are, don’t you think?

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I had to include some carnations. I love love love the way they smell. I put them in the post closest to the window, I’m hoping I’ll be able to smell them from inside.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I have eight containers in the front garden. Two by the door, two by the porch and two by the bench. I used to have two by the garage door, but this last year I moved them to the path to the gate. I still may add a pair to the garage area, but I’m not sure. I’ve run out of pots and I don’t want to buy any more! :-) I do still have a matching pair of barrels, so maybe I’ll use those. Eventually. For now, I just have the eight.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I put Calibrachoa in almost all of the pots. You may have seen them marketed as “Million Bells”? They look kind of like tiny petunias and are great for pots, spilling over the edges, even in partial shade. You can see I only planted these a week ago and they’re already expanding like crazy.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

Someday I might get ambitious enough to start all my plants from seed. Or to take cuttings and keep them over winter, since several of these plants are actually tender perennials. But for now, having my annual birthday ritual of picking out flowers for the pots is working for me.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

They’re still very sparse, but I still kinda love them! And I love knowing that cheery billows of little flowers will be spilling over the edges of these containers all summer long.

Do you plant annuals at all?

~Angela :-)

Linking up to: An Oregon Cottage and Sew Much Ado.

Carnation or “Clove Pink” (Dianthus x caryophyllus)

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

I have always always loved the smell of carnations. It’s no surprise to me that they are also called “clove pinks” because their scent is spicy and sweet like the culinary spice. It’s a distinctive smell that you never quite forget, and because of it’s use in bouquets and corsages, one that I associate with many happy memories.

As a new gardener, years ago, I was thrilled to find that many types of pinks (Dianthus) grow well in the garden, including my favorite, the carnation, or “clove pink” (Dianthus x caryophyllus). They are most commonly seen in shades of red, pink and white, but yellow varieties have been bred over the years. The blooms float above the tuft of the plant on long stalks, and as an extra bonus the blue-green foliage is evergreen.

I haven’t had any in my garden for a few years, but I couldn’t resist adding them to my pots for the summer. In fall, I’ll transplant them to a permanent spot tucked in front of one of the perennial borders.

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com


  • Latin Name: Dianthus x caryophyllus
  • Common Name: Carnation or “Clove Pink”
  • USDA Zone: 6-9
  • Height: 18″-24″
  • Spread: 15″-18″
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring through mid-Summer
  • Bloom Color: Shades of red, pink, white and pale yellow
  • Foliage: Evergreen, blue-green (glaucous)
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Water: Average water needs, do not overwater
  • NOTE: Seeds and all plant parts are poisonous if ingested. (Don’t eat the carnations!)


Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

In my experience, these plants can be somewhat short lived, and definitely do not like to be soggy. But they’re worth it for their long bloom time, evergreen foliage and that wonderful clove scent. I have not tried collecting seeds, but I have wanted to try that. Then you could be assured of an endless supply of pretty clove pinks.

Do you have any carnations growing in your garden?

~Angela :-)

Just Like That, It’s Summer

June Blooms in the Bird and Butterfly Garden

Blooming Ditch Lily

Remember last week when I showed you the foxgloves and roses, but said the “next wave” was coming? Well, it’s here! The new flowers are starting to come into bloom, bringing brighter and wilder colors.

The first thing that always appears is the orange ditch lilies. It’s funny, because every Spring I’m so in love with the pinks and blues and I swear I’m going to tear out all the orange and yellow that’s coming down the pike, but as soon as summer starts and the orange and fuschia and purple and indigo take over, I fall in love with the brighter colors all over again.

I wish I could take credit for all this, but I didn’t really do it. I mean, yes, I built this bed and planted these plants (there was nothing here when I moved in five years ago). But it was mostly just a matter of answering two questions. First, “What didI bring with me from the old garden that attracts butterflies?”, and second (to be repeated several times each season), “What do I have on hand that I stuff in that bare spot?”

This bed evolves every year. I add things, things die. It’s a great bed for tinkering.

Bird and Butterfly Garden in June Bloom

Verbena bonariensis and Catmint

I love how the orange mixes with the pink and blue as summer starts to heat up.

Blooms of Ditch Lilies - Hemerocallis fulva

This adorable little rose is an Apothecary’s rose, and is a recent gift from a friend. I have them in the herb bed right now, but this fall I will move them to a better home. They’re going to get way too huge and swamp my cooking herbs! The little blooms are so pretty, aren’t they?

Bloom of Apothecary's Rose - Rosa gallica var. officinalis

The gazebo “thing” is right in the corner, between the butterfly garden and the not-yet-defined-bed-that-I-haven’t-figured-out-but-is-full-of-foxgloves garden. I do love the foxgloves. I’m going to have to transplant a bunch of them, though, because I’m going to have to fix that bed one of these days.

Gazebo in Corner of Garden

OH yes, and lest you think I am some kind of superwoman who can keep her garden picked up at all times, I will remind you that I do, indeed, have children.

Children's Toys on the Back Garden Lawn

While there’s still gray skies more often than not here in the Pacific Northwest, summer is definitely here.

What about you? Do your gardens change their colors for summer?


~Angela :-)

P.S. For the fellow plant enthusiasts, here’s the main things pictured:
Ditch Lilies: Hemerocallis fulva
Rose Campion: Lychnis coronaria
Yarrow: Achillea millefolium ‘Cerise Queen’
Catmint: Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’
Brazilian Verbena: Verbena bonariensis
Apothecary’s Rose: Rosa gallica var. officinalis
Foxgloves: Digitalis purpurea

P.P.S. Linking up to Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.

Foxgloves and Roses, Oh My

Foxgloves and Roses around Gazebo

Bloom on New Dawn Climbing Rose

Every evening when I walk into my office, I walk past this window that looks out over the gazebo thing in my garden. And of course I take a peek on my way to the computer to see what’s blooming, how many weeds have grown since yesterday, how much of a raggedy mess the lawn is, that sort of thing. Sometimes I’m so compelled by what I see, I have to get my camera and go try to get a few pictures before the sun goes down. Tonight was definitely one of those nights. What an explosion of flowers!

I mean, I knew they were blooming, I walk past that window every day. But I hadn’t really realized just how much they were blooming. It kind of just stopped me in my tracks. When we moved here, that corner was a chemically stripped barren wasteland, and it seemed like it would never be pretty. So it still kind of surprises me when I notice that it is.

(We’ll just pretend we don’t see the shaggy lawn and the billion-and-two weeds, okay?)

Of course, I had to sit in my chairs there and enjoy being surrounded by flowers.

Foxgloves and Wild Roses

June Blooms

On the fence behind the gazebo thing I have a New Dawn climbing rose. It’s just starting to bloom now, and the blooms smell fantastic. I can’t wait until the clematis joins in, there’s just loads of buds on it. I never thought all the shades of pink would make me so happy, with the different roses and foxgloves, but they do.

Blossom on New Dawn Climbing Rose

A Jumble of Roses and Foxgloves

Foxgloves Close Up

Coming down the path from the gate it’s a shaggy, lush mess of flowers. I like it, shag and all.

Path to Gazebo

But if you turn a bit to the left, you can see that the next wave is already coming. See the bit of orange?

Butterfly Garden

Summer Blooms Just Starting

New colors are coming, you can see them starting to show! Right now, the weather is still cool and lovely, and all the pinks and blues are so pretty. But very soon the son will be hot and bright, and the pink would seem washed out. Right about then, the brighter colors take over, and the garden becomes a bright, cheerful riot of color. I like that, too.

What’s blooming in your garden?


~Angela :-)

Linking up to: Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, June 2102 and Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.

Top Ten Garden Photos From 2008

Top Ten Garden Photos From 2008

In the spirit of “end of the year” posts, I thought it would be nice to post my top ten favorite photos from this year. These aren’t necessarily my best photos, but they’re definitely my favorites for one reason or another. Here they are chronologically:

Peach Primroses

In March I posted Signs of Spring that featured these peach and yellow primroses. Every time I run across this shot it makes me smile. It was one of the very first spots of color I was able to add to the blank slate of my new yard.

Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms

In April I got all gooey over the Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata “Kwanzan”) blossoms, after delightfully discovering a fairly sizable one in my neighbors yard. One of my favorite flowering trees, I was thrilled to see it.

Pink Dogwood Blooming

In May I discovered that the only other tree in my new yard besides the pear was this flowering pink dogwood.

Sarah Bernhardt Peony Bloom

In June I started to see blooms from the plants I had brought to the new garden, including this beautiful Sarah Bernhardt Peony (Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’). Love those.

Purple Clematis Macro Close-Up

July brought another fantastic discovery. I inherited this spectacular monster of a clematis in my new garden. I just love clematis, and the color on this one was lovely. Don’t know which one it is, but I love how it engulfs the back fence.

Tutti Frutti Agastache Hummingbird Mint

In my September “What’s Blooming” post I showed off some spires of “Tutti Frutti” Hummingbird Mint (Agastache x ‘Tutti Frutti’). It was my first time growing it and so rewarding! It just bloomed and bloomed for months, and attracted so many hummingbirds. If we sat quietly enough they would hover right next to us.


The weather this year was odd from one end to the other. We had such a late start on everything that we had our major harvest of tomatoes in October. October! So I included them in my October “What’s Blooming” post.

Fall Foliage Zelkova Serrata

November’s “What’s Blooming” post featured the gorgeous foliage on my newest favorite tree, the “Green Vase” Japanese Zelkova tree (Zelkova serrata ‘Green Vase’). I planted three along the sidewalk in front of my house, and having never had them before was a little unsure, but they’re very graceful and this fall foliage really convinced me I chose well. I can’t wait to see how well they fill out in 2009.

My final “What’s Blooming” post of the year was December, and included this shot of one of my favorite evergreens, Parney cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lacteus). It gets overlooked but it can be trained into a wall without additional support and such a profusion of berries. I have three that I still haven’t settled on a final spot for. But I loved this photo.

Snow on Garden Tuteur

Of course, no 2008 retrospective from the Pacific Northwest would be complete without photos of our bizarre snow. Not that we never have snow. We do. Occasionally. But this year we had snow and snow and snow and more snow. For days! With temperatures in the teens! I know for many of you that’s very ho-hum, but for us, completely baffling.

I think those are my favorites for the year. I didn’t spend nearly as much time gardening as I had hoped to, and I realized that wasn’t healthy for me. So I’m refocusing on it for the year upcoming. Thanks to all of you for sticking with me this year, though I didn’t post as much as I would have liked to. I’m rarin’ to go for 2009–this is going to be a great year!!

What about you? Do you have favorites from 2008? Hopes for 2009?

~Angela :-)

Roses in December

December Rose Blooms<

Can you believe these roses blooming in the middle of December? The neighbor told me she's had roses from the garden on her table for Christmas, and I wasn't sure I believed her. Now I do. If it hadn't been for the freak snowstorm we had, these would have been on my table Christmas day. This mystery rose has been blooming non-stop since June, if you can believe that.


Several other roses are also blooming, and there’s stragglers on the hydrangeas. This hebe is also throwing off a few blooms, too (Hebe ‘Ritt’).

But as remarkable as the flowers are, this time of year I’m most excited about all of the foliage and berry color…

Palace Purple Heuchera

…like the leaves of this coral bell (Heuchera ‘Can Can’)….

Ornamental Purple Kale

…or this purple ornamental kale.

Mourning Widow Geranium Phaeum

I also love the bright splashes of color in this variegated mourning widow geranium (Geranium phaeum ‘Variegatum’). I’ve been propogating it all over the shady parts of my garden.

Autumn Color Azalea Foliage

I was really surprised by the color in this azalea. It was a freebie from a friend who was digging it out. I don’t even know what color it blooms yet. But the winter color is lovely.

Parney Cotoneaster

Of course, one of my favorite winter interest plants is cotoneaster, and I brought several with me from the other house. This one, Parney cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lacteus) is great for training onto (or into) a wall, with big leathery leaves and a stunning amount of berries when mature.

PeeGee Hydrangea

My PeeGee hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) has lovely brown mopheads, dried on the plant. I left them on for interest, so I’ll have to be careful when I prune this Spring so I don’t lop off the new buds.

Buds on Fruit Tree

But speaking of buds, here’s my most favorite thing to see this time of year. Buds on the trees. This is a plum tree from my veg garden, and it just makes me so happy! Spring is coming! I know, not for months.

But it’s coming!

What about you? What’s your favorite thing to see in your winter garden?

~Angela :-)

This post is a part of the DecemberGarden Bloggers Bloom Day, sponsored each month by May Dreams Gardens.

Foxglove Seedlings

Foxglove Seedlings

I love, love, love foxgloves. They are one of the classic, top ten cottage flowers, in my book. I’ve had them in all of my gardens, including the entry garden at Valentine Cottage.

Naturally I brought some with me to Pear Tree Cottage. They didn’t bloom well, probably the transplanting, and I didn’t think about them again until the other day when I was outside and noticed a green haze around each plant.

Foxglove Seedlings

Guess what I found?


Hundreds upon hundreds of foxglove seedlings.

I am SO happy! I’m sure I won’t have room for them all, but I certainly won’t be lacking in foxgloves. I’ve never had such good luck with anything self-sowing before. I’m so excited! I hope some of them come up purple like the ones I had before.

What about you? What are your best self-sowers?

~Angela :-)

You Know it’s Fall When You Fall in Love with Ornamental Kale

Purple Ornamental Kale

Fall is well and truly here in the Pacific Northwest. How can I tell? Not the position of the sun, the turning leaves, or the crisp cool air. I can tell because ornamental Kale looks absolutely beautiful to me. I have some in my containers out front, and the crinkly leaves have such lovely color, I was mesmerized.

Tomato Harvest

As I think I’ve said before (repeatedly), this has been an odd year. The garden has been odd, too. Case in point: this basket of tomatoes. We just harvested these last week–our plants were loaded with them. Our tomatoes only started turning in mid September, and the plants were still loaded with green fruit when the frost hit.

Rosa Guy de Maupassant Rose

I’ve also been surprised at the roses continuing to bloom. I found this floribunda, “Guy de Maupassant” (Rosa ‘Guy de Maupassant’), on clearance at a big box store a few months ago, and it smelled fantastic. I picked up four of them for $2 each. I love plant clearance.

Hydrangea Sun Spot

The hydrangeas have managed to put out a last few blooms, like this new one I found, “Sun Goddess” (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Yellowleaf’), which has chartreuse leaves and seems to handle the sun better than most.

Hydrangea Nikko Blue

Then there’s the classic Nikko Blue (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’). It looks so pretty, glowing blue in the shade by the shed.

Salvia Black and Blue

This Brazilian sage (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’), is something I’ve not grown before. I saw the gorgeous deep blue color in a friend’s garden last year and snagged a cutting. Now I’ve got two and they’re going strong.


I left the Bacopa (Sutera cordata, not sure of the variety) in the containers–it’s so healthy and I can’t believe how many blooms are on it this time of year.

Moth Mullein

This ephemeral thing is actually a weed. I found it growing in the garden over the summer, and finally identified it online as a field weed called Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria). But I think it’s pretty, and it’s exactly like the cultivated verbascum I bought this year except yellow instead of purple. So I found a spot for it. We’ll see how my experiment works out.

How about you? Do you have things blooming that you weren’t expecting to in October?

~Angela :-)

This post is a part of the October Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, sponsored each month by May Dreams Gardens.