Planting Dahlias in the Cottage Garden

We're pretty proud of our dahlias, they've come a long way since we sowed them in a propagator in the depths of winter. We have around eighty Bishop's Children after potting on and hardening off and they all have places, we're even squeezing them in among the vegetables. There are some ready to go into pots in the herb garden, if we have a space, a dahlia will go in. Don't forget that dahlia roots are edible, like a sweet potato, but we grow ours to bring in pollinators in from late summer to late autumn.

dahlias, life on pig row

A majority of them have been earmarked for the cottage garden, and we are planting them today for late summer colour. Around sixty will go into this part of the garden along with some sweetcorn we grew from seed. Don't get too excited, out of the twenty corn plants we sowed, we got two but these two are taking pride of place in the cottage garden by the new support. The new support is there for several reasons, to support our sad looking sunflowers that are nowhere near how they grew last summer, and to create a windbreak for the new Greengage.

sweetcorn, life on pig row

We may never get corn from our sweetcorn but it looks good for its foliage too, and therefore will be a welcome lift in colour in the late season cottage garden. Still, we must plod on, bums in the air, hands in the soil getting in the dahlias. It's the only way to move through a mature bed, in the most undignified way possible. We always lay our dahlias out first. The great thing about Bishop's Children dahlias is that the foliage often tells you what the colour of the flowers are going to be. The dark foliage often means red or dark flowers, the occasional yellow may sneak through but the green foliage tends to give yellow or white, very rarely does it give us a dark flower. However, we don't really know and we use the foliage too as a repeated design, creating a tapestry.

gardening, dahlias, life on pig row

Half the fun is waiting to see what colours we'll have. Some of the dahlias going in are old ones from previous years, Lavender Perfection and Sensationalism, both pom-poms. We do however prefer Bishop's Children due to the open nature of the flowers they attract bees. We prefer bee friendly plants in our flowers patches because more bees means more pollination.

gardening, life on pig row, cottage garden

In our own bee waddling way we move back across the bed until we have filled it, tidying as we go and enjoying the growth in the cottage garden. The cottage garden is a million miles away from where it started, gone is the thatch grass, the invasive laurels and the stony, stony soil. The hornbeam cossets it and the cordoned fruit is coming into its own for crops and screening. As in the herb garden, we always leave spaces in the cottage garden to sow annuals or plant dahlias, it allows us to tinker with the look of a garden each year without taking away the perennial structure. It creates interest for us and means that a small patch in the cottage garden can be given over to brassicas or peas or beans or cosmos, dahlias and cornflowers. Try it, a perennial garden doesn't have to remain static. 

dahlias, cottage garden, life on pig row

In the end, backs smarting, bums and tums toned, we have dahlias snaking through the cottage garden ready to grow and flower, to give us the final bang of the summer.

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