Corner Cottage Garden

My own sunny garden surrounds Corner Cottage. Here I introduce you to it, and set the scene at the beginning of the 2019 growing season. I hope you will come back, ask questions, witness the successes and failures and follow the progress of each area. Corner Cottage is essentially Victorian. It was built in 1874 but almost doubled in size in the 1980’s. The plot surrounds the cottage, giving pockets of garden with all aspects and different microclimates, the largest patch being a south-facing slope at the back. The soil is a slightly acid sandy loam over pure sand. It drains freely and heats up quickly. The minimum winter temperatures are typically around -8°C. The coldest I recorded was -18°C during the exceptional winter of 2010/11. I had few plants back then. A Trachycarpus fortunei that had finally been given a permanent home after years of itinerant pot dwelling took a hit but survived. The poor palm was the first thing I planted in a sea of lawn after we bought the house in the summer of 2010. Its ordeal didn’t dissuade me from growing exotic and mediterranean plants in Staffordshire. We do get at least a few days of laying snow most winters but this last winter (2018/19) has been fairly benign with few frosty nights and a minimum of -6°C.

The old part of Corner Cottage in December 2010



1980’s part of Corner Cottage seen from the Veg. Plot with a view across the Circle Bed & Olive Bed to the Terrace in the distance

My area for growing vegetables is relatively small ~ 20 square metres. It incorporates my old composting bays. I intend to use the spaces within the pallet structures in the hope the added shelter benefits the plants.

I have already sown Broad Bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ and planted Garlic ‘Messidrome’ in the autumn and ‘Printanor’ last month. The garlic cloves are planted in potato bags of bought compost as previous onion and garlic crops in the ground have become infected with white rot. I am trialling Westland New Horizon All Plant Peat-Free Compost.

The Veg. Plot with old compost bays to the right and an Acacia dealbata in full bloom in the distance and delighting early foraging honey bees

The whole area is heavy with a spicy/vanilla scent from the mimosa by the garage.

The Circle Bed has been cleared apart from a few self-seeded honesty and foxgloves. Soon, I will be sowing Pictorial Meadows ‘Aqua’ mix of annual seeds that flower in mainly shades of blue and white.

The Olive Bed is a nod towards the scrubby ‘garrigue’ found in wild mediterranean landscapes. I encourage self-seeding there more than anywhere in the garden so it has a life of its own but I also aim to intervene to increase the diversity of planting this year.

The Olive Bed

The Terrace, by contrast, is the contrived outdoor room. The ‘walls’ are espaliered apple trees, the ‘roof’ a couple of vines and the floor self-binding Breedon gravel surrounding some reclaimed concrete slabs. It is heavily accessorized with pots, the larger ones containing Tulipa ‘Menton’ which are beginning to show.

The Terrace
The Fig Bank that borders the drive. Euphorbia characias and Salvia candelabrum in the foreground

The Fig Bank is a collection of mediterranean climate shrubs interspersed with some perennials and annuals including climbers. It is the sunniest most sheltered part of the whole garden. A young loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) and Cerinthe major have come through the winter.

I aim to grow a fair proportion of new plants from seed. This will be a priority in the coming month with the pots of seedlings typically transitioning from kitchen windowsill to greenhouse to cold frame before being planted in pots or the ground outside.

Inside the 6′ x 4′ lean to greenhouse. It is kept frost free (minimum 5°C)

Cyclamen seedlings

Apart from propagation the greenhouse is used to house tender plants such as grapefruit, plumbago and aeoniums over winter before they are moved out for display during the warmer months. Acacia pravissima has recently been released to join the pots by the garage. In the summer the greenhouse is home to tomatoes and chillies.

Cold Frame

Acacia pravissima



2 thoughts on “Corner Cottage Garden

  1. Hello Jim. Your garden looks spectacular – even this early in the year! The mimosa is glorious. Do you prune it at all? If so, when? Thanks for sharing your plot – look forward too seeing how the year goes at Corner Cottage.

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    1. Thanks for your comments and interest. The mimosa can be pruned lightly each year, in April, after the flowering season. I have seen quite a few outgrowing London front gardens that have been hacked back horribly and they just look ‘wrong’. However they bounce back from most assaults and even a severe frost that kills the main trunk will often stimulate a mass of new growth from the base.

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