Hug Cottage Gardens (In the making)

Back Fence Temporary Garden

My friend, you have admired our gardens at our previous homes. I hope too, that one day you will be able to visit and admire the gardens at Hug Cottage. Just don’t visit too soon. (Just kidding. You can visit whenever you want.)

The making of the Hug Cottage gardens are going to be a several year chore, just to get the basics taken care of.

When Lorraine and I first viewed the property the seller said, “The property is lovely landscaped.” We were enticed by the claims of several roses and hydrangea, two lovely clematis, blueberries, grape vines, a lilac tree, Rose of Sharon, forsythia, lavender, ground cover, and a “lovely pink weeping tree.” When looking at a home in the snow it is a bit hard to verify all of this. But the pictures did show some most of it. Our first hint of problems to come should have been when she couldn’t tell us the color of the clematis or the what the “lovely pink weeping tree” was.

To put it bluntly: All the bushes were butchered. She had no idea about how to prune or when to do it. The clematis and grape vines were climbing up the telephone pole. We knew that, but what we didn’t know that everything from about two feet up was dead. The pink weeping tree, a red bud, was rotten at the core. The ground cover was an invasive weed. And to add insult to injury several of the plants that should have been left were taken.

Ah, well. New Hug Cottage gardens will spring forth from the ashes. (Which reminds me, I do need to add some lime to one of the beds.)

It is fun recreating. Picking what flowers we want. Where this perennial or that perennial should go. Right now we are just experimenting a bit. Planted a lot of annuals – many zinnias – for summer color. Just started buying closeout perennials from the garden center. After having lived in hot Austin for several years we’ve had to learn Lake Erie gardening all over again. As the yard is always at least 6 hours sunny somewhere during the day we’ve had to think quite a bit about choice of plants. I think we might have one small bed that will work for shade lovers. The few that are in seem to be doing okay.

In spite of all the work, I do love gardening. It keeps me sane.

Naturally, there’s always those difference of opinions of what goes where as we recreate. Yesterday I cut back the mint around the mailbox because it was going crazy, only to find out that Lorraine loved the mint there, just as it was. “Now it won’t be green for our company next week.” I am learning to ask first.

One thing that has helped us along immensely is that we found a garden center that we really like. They grow a good bit of their own plants and they’re reasonable. The only drawback is that they are way on the other side of Cleveland, and their main outlet is even further away in Amish Country. We do frequent a few local growers too. No “Big Box” stores for plants, we haven’t had much luck with them.

So anyway, here’s what we’ve accomplished so far….

The rotted red bud tree has been removed. The butchered bushes cleaned up as best they can be until their proper pruning time.

The negative front grade at the house has been built up to the recommended height with soil and plant mold. I will need to add more this fall to shape it. Lorraine and I ferried the leaf mold, several buckets at a time, from the recycle center.

We had the stump grinder in to remove the stump and surface roots from the tree in the front yard that the previous owner had cut down. I need to mention that we came across a handyman who helped us out at a significant reduction. He seems to have friends who do everything. One of the many advantages of small town living.

We need to remove the small replacement tulip tree before the roots meet the foundation They love water and being our grade is toward the lake….

Our plans are to create an English cottage-style garden in the front with mostly deer resistant plants. The neighborhood deer when they come out of the woods to drink at the creek, look over at our yard and say, “Snacks!”

The roses will take some special care. Some David Austin roses are on the way, thanks to a generous gift from Lorraine’s sister.

The neighbor and I have talked about pulling out the hedge row between our properties. As it is all on our property Lorraine and I will replace it with a berm planted with perennials and grasses. That will meld into the side yard and the rain garden in the back northwest corner. Also for the back yard, a fire pit. The backyard beds will be expanded. Never can have too many plants. Well, you can, but we have a ways to go yet.

We did create a pretty good mixture of annuals and perennials in the pergola garden. Kind of an experiment for placing.


P.S. Plan to see if I can’t scrounge up some perennials this fall as people thin their gardens. Hopefully, some irises too.

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