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Cosmos & Zinnia, So Many Bulbs, Sweet Peas, Hens & Chicks

Our newly planted cottage garden has really come into its own! On the shady half, alongside the roses, we planted wildflowers, California poppies, dwarf marigolds, snapdragon, rudbeckia, Bachelor’s Button, nasturtium, bee balm, dianthus, candytuft, echinacea, asters and petunias.

On the sunny side, we planted a lot of different zinnias and cosmos, and starting mid-August, when they reached full height, they were truly the star of the show! Click below on our gallery to see how beautiful they are! The bees were sooo happy, if you sat amongst the zinnias & cosmos, all you could hear was busy little buzzing. Sometimes the bees would be working so hard, they would get tired and take a nap inside the flowers. That was Mom’s favorite thing, to look for sweet little napping bees.

Here are Niko & Sebastian on the first day of school:

It was our first year growing sweet peas, and many of our little seedlings flourished into full-grown plants! We planted them all over, in the rose garden, the cottage garden, and around the porch. They seemed happiest in warm, dry areas. Sweet peas have incredible fragrance and they bloomed for a long time. As long as you keep cutting the flowers, they will keep putting out new ones, so we tried to cut them often and bring them inside to make little fragrant bouquets:

In September and October, we went a little bulb crazy. We ordered over 300 bulbs! We chose many different kinds of tulips, alliums, and some huge Red Crown Imperial fritillaria and amaryllis. It seemed like a great idea until they arrived and we realized we actually had to plant them!

We made room for the bulbs in the cottage garden by taking out more grass. We did it the same way as last time, Mom used an edging tool to cut the line of the new garden bed and then cut the grass into little squares. Dad and Niko pulled the chunks up with shovels and carted them to the back of the yard in the wheelbarrow. We made sure to try to only get rid of grass and not the worms and dirt, because we need those to help our new garden get started!

We started by raking out the new garden bed and adding new soil on top:

We only have 1 bulb planter hand tool – which is a round metal tool that you stick into the ground and do a little corkscrew motion and pull out a chunk of dirt. Then you pop the bulb into the hole, and squeeze the tool to drop the dirt back over the bulb. It also has helpful measurement lines on the side, so you can see how deep your hole is.

Here’s Sebastian digging some holes:

When you are planting bulbs, always check the directions for each type of bulb before you start, to make sure you are planting them the correct depth and that you’re giving them enough room on both sides to grow. We took turns using the tool until our hands hurt, and then we passed it to the next person. Whoever wasn’t using the tool would dig more holes with a spade or pop the bulbs into the holes.

When we planted them, we used the same type of design with the bulbs that we had done with the flowers – we planted “hot” colors like yellow, red and orange on the sunny side of the flower bed, and “cool” colors like white and light pink on the shady side.

We used a technique to place the bulbs that we learned from our favorite television gardener, Monty Don. We love to watch Gardener’s World and on one episode, Monty taught us that bulbs look the most natural if you just kind of chuck them in the area where you want to plant them. Then plant them wherever they land, even if some of them are grouped together. You shouldn’t plant them in a straight line like soldiers, or perfectly spaced out, because they won’t look natural. We had fun chucking them into the bed! It was kind of hard to keep from being perfectionists and actually plant them exactly where they landed, but we did it. We can’t wait to see what they will look like in the Spring!


We decorated the house with spooky skeletons and all kinds of other creepy things for Halloween! Halloween is Dad’s favorite holiday and he loves to make the house look haunted!

One of the last projects we did for the season was to plant sedum and succulents in the front of the cottage garden. Earlier in the season we had wildflowers and California poppies in that area, but now it was empty. We wanted something that would be low-growing and would be able to survive well over the Winter. We planted Stonecrop sedum ‘Firecracker’ and ‘Autumn Fire’, along with Hens & Chicks sempervivum succulents. Here is what it looked like when we were getting ready to plant:

And here is what it looks like after it was planted, and the sedum bloomed:

We planted the Hens & Chicks along the side of our old stone steps. We always have to weed the sides of the steps, they get overgrown quickly. So we thought a good way to keep it looking neat and pretty was to plant some succulents there. We made sure to use soil that is specifically made for succulents and we added a lot of little rocks as a top dressing to ensure that the area was well-drained and they don’t sit in wet ground. Also, it’s on a slope so that helps it drain. We are really happy with the way they look!

You don’t have to spend much money on something like this, we bought one plant for just a few dollars. It had lots of little guys all bunched together, and we very carefully pulled them apart, and planted them separately. As long as you plant them right away and don’t damage the roots, it’s easy to separate succulents and make a lot of new plants out of 1 plant. We ended up with 12!

The very last project of the season before we tucked ourselves inside for the Winter, was planting a witch hazel tree. Mom picked one that was native to our area, Hamamelis virginiana. Witch hazel has long been used as a home remedy – it helps with inflammation and can soothe burns, insect bites, itching and more. It is an autumn-blooming variety, so it bloomed shortly after we planted it, and we were able to enjoy the unique spiky flowers at the same time as all the leaves on the other trees turned crimson, orange and yellow. It was so pretty:

The weather is getting cooler and we are looking forward to snuggling inside by the fire in blankets watching lots of good movies and enjoying the holidays together. We hope you have a wonderful Winter and we will see you again in the Spring!

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