A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Adopt-A-Plot 2007

The theme has been chosen for 2007 for the Display Gardens at Rutgers Gardens. For those of you who are just joining us, the Adopt-A-Plot system was explained in this post. This coming year's theme is "The Nature of Our Heritage". The committee beds will have plants from Mexico, China, Puerto Rico and India. How did they arrive at those countries? Those are some of the nationalities of the people living in the nearby city of New Brunswick which is the home of Rutgers University. Hopefully, there will also be new veggie beds behind the existing ones planted with veggies native to those countries. (A diagram of the Display Gardens can be found here) They are also hoping to attract volunteers of those nationalities to act as docents for those beds similar to what we saw at NYBG.

The Head Hatter who oversees the design, planting and maintenance of the Display Gardens suggested that the volunteers who are adopting plots could plant their plots according to their own heritage. Hmmm . . . my ancestors were mostly from England . . . Of course! An English Cottage Garden, my favorite gardening style and a chance to showcase some of my beloved heirloom flowers.

While I waited for the seed catalogs to arrive, I did some research. My local library is part of a consortium of libraries, so I have a wide variety of books available to me. I visited their site and found three books that I highly recommend to anyone interested in cottage gardening: Christopher Lloyd's The Cottage Garden from which I came up with a list of "authentic" English cottage garden flowers, Creating a Cottage Garden in North American by Stephen Westcott-Gratton for cottage garden flowers that grow well in North America and, since the Display Gardens showcase annual flowers, Clive Lane's Cottage Garden Annuals: Grown from Seed for Summer-Long Colour.

After reading all three books, I came up with my first list of possibilities for my bed. I winnowed the list down after talking it over with Head Hatter. She was advised me on which flowers wouldn't do well in the Display Gardens based on her many years of gardening there. Hollyhocks are too tall (nothing over 3 feet tall). No larkspur or snapdragons, too hot and dry. Petunias are heavy feeders and also not recommended. Cosmos bipinnatus flops although the Cosmos sulphureus I grew last year had no problems. Based on my own observations, Bachelor's Buttons are out. The ones in the Head Hatter's bed last year got eaten by deer? ground hogs?

On the plus side, cleome and nasturtiums grow great there. My calendulas was fabulous last year. No cottage garden is complete without sunflowers which shouldn't mind the hot dry conditions there so I'm going to try some miniature ones. I also discovered Verbena bonariensis in another volunteer's plot last year and fell in love. I'm going to grow it both at home and in my own plot. I received some nigella as free seed last year and just wasn't thrilled with it but it is a classic cottage garden flower so I will also be growing that. I still want to try Seashells cosmos despite how awful the cosmos looked in other beds last year. I'm hoping since it is an heirloom, it won't flop as badly. And I will probably break down and try the Bachelor's Buttons.

My second (and still preliminary) plant list looks like this:

Miniature sunflowers (variety to be determined)
Rose Queen cleome (heirloom)
Seashells cosmos (heirloom)
Verbena bonariensis
Bachelor's Buttons
Empress of India nasturtium (heirloom)

The seed catalogs have begun to arrive. I'm sure I will be adding and subtracting to my list as I peruse them.


At 4:41 PM, Blogger Kasmira said...

I think annual poppies look cottagey. They are easy to grow and don't mind dry conditions. They'll look like crap by the end of July, though....but that's about the time some of the other annuals will be coming into their own.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Kasmira, the end of July is when Rutgers Gardens has their big Open House so I crossed poppies off my list. I do love them and will be growing them at home.


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