You don’t have to leave the pleasures of gardening behind when you venture out of the city. Here are some suggestions to help you bring your favourite pastimes to the cottage.
1. Go low maintenance. Remember, unless you vacate the city for the entire summer, you won’t be able to devote much time to your cottage garden. Go with plants that require little care.
2. Plant perennials. Cottages are all about relaxation so save the major annual re-plantings for your home base. Perennials wait for spring to sound the "all clear" and take care of the rest themselves. They’ll also self-seed, allowing your garden to get as big as you want as the years pass.
3. The wildflower way. A perfect low maintenance perennial choice. They give you the best of both worlds: pretty and delicate floral displays combined with the hardiness of a weed. Depending on the breed, wildflowers will do well in periods of drought or in soggy soil. Plant seedlings in June when all danger of frost is past. Or try starting flowers directly from seed. Break up the soil, scatter seeds, cover with an inch of dirt and give them a good watering.
4. Rely on roses. In areas with good drainage, roses are another great option that brings a classic feel to a cottage garden. Many garden centres now carry "wild" rose varieties, from climbers to ground ramblers. Like their wildflower counterparts, roses withstand drought well. Pick varieties that are known for voluminous floral displays, as you won’t be around as much to encourage new blooms with deadheading.
5. Plant for privacy. If another cottage is in close proximity, put up a wooden trellis and plant climbers such as ivy, clematis and snow peas. You’ll get some added privacy and a greater sense of "lushness" when you’re surrounded by greenery. Clematis and snow peas also give the added bonus of flowers.
6. Aqua spikes. Container plantings demand regular watering, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them at the cottage. Use aqua spikes. These spikes screw onto a standard size water bottle and have small holes at the spike end to gradually release water to the plant’s roots. Using spikes will make sure your plantings won’t shrivel up and die if you can’t get to the cottage for a couple of weeks.
7. Befriend birds. Cottage country has an abundance of our feathered friends to take care of pests. Use a birdbath to attract them. Avoid using a feeder as it will encourage unwanted visitors such as raccoons.
8. Move over, mosquitoes! Plant citronella plants as a natural mosquito repellent.
9. Reduce, reuse, recycle. In cottage country, the world is your composter. After you’ve finished with your vase of hand picked flowers, don’t put them in the garbage. Chuck them in nearby brush or forest where they’ll be composted naturally. Also, keep a composter at the cottage. It’ll reduce your trips to the dump and provide you with excellent soil to use in the garden.
10. Invest in a rain barrel. Your plants will thrive when they receive a non-chlorinated drink. This also means that water running off into lakes and streams won’t contain chlorine.