Cottage Garden How-to: Best plants & a few other tips!

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” –Helen Keller

My favorite style of gardening is by far the beautiful and free flowing cottage type! Although I do prefer some semblance of organization, I embrace the free flow of the cottage garden… as long as she stays in the lines LOL!

Cottage gardens are calm, relaxing, and functional for any gardener… in my opinion!

Be sure to keep posted for next weeks garden how-to: Shakespeare Garden Design!

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.”

Cottage Flowers

Certain flowers provide balance & fit the scheme of things best.
I love cottage garden flowers with their happy, free spirit. It’s as if they call out to their garden mother or father and lavish love to them through their beautiful blossoms.

Pro Tip: Some cottage type flowers include: Hollyhocks, Delphiniums, Foxglove, Bleeding Heart, Climbing Roses, Peony, Phlox, Lavender, Bee’s Balm, Zinnias, Lilacs, and of course one of my personal favorite, Lupines. 

I used to have a children’s story book called, The Lupine Lady by Barbara Cooney I used to love to read it to my children. It was just a happy book that I would recommend to anyone! 

Just like specific flowers fit best in a cottage garden, so do certain garden elements. For instance a white picket fence is a must have!

Here are few other unique garden junque items I love to use!

  • Stepping stones or slate slabs make a beautiful meandering path in any garden. 
  • Old wooden posts. 
  • Arbors and pergolas.  
  • Cool old mailboxes placed in a flower bed are absolutely adorable. 
  • Old galvanized buckets, wash tubs, and watering cans also make great art pieces in a bed. 
  • Use an old step ladder to be home to cute little terra cotta pots filled with beautiful posies!
  • I have an antique lightning rod in one of my raised beds that always strikes up a conversation with guests!
  • Bird baths.
  • Stone creatures, word signs, or other garden plaques.
  • Glass gazing balls.

The list could go on and on… let me know what you like to include in your gardens in the comments below!

If you would like to see more great ideas on other garden junque you can include in your gardens, check out my blog posts More Garden Junque Ideas: Garden Bikes and Yummy Fresh Chive Topper and more at More Garden Junque: Delightful Doors and Yummy Spinach Pie.

If you enjoyed this blog & bonus recipes, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think,  I love your feedback! 

Added bonus tip: To find recipes like the ones you’ll find in my posts, you can go to my blog at to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

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Happy Day,


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All text and images on this site are copyright of For Dragonflies And Me. Unless otherwise noted, you may not use this content without written permission.

Shakespeare Garden Design How-to & few other tips!

“A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.” ― Wendell Berry

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m going to share several types of garden design & themes during the cold days of December! Be sure to keep posted for next week’s garden how-to: Friendship Garden Design!

Gardens are such a joy and can be an inspiration to others.  When one walks through a garden they should be welcomed by a warm, fuzzy feeling that grabs hold of them to the point of not wanting to leave.  Quiet, rest and peacefulness ought to be the theme of every garden, and it can be accomplished simply by making it a small reflection of who you are. 

When your friends are there it should be a time of not just visiting, but sharing secrets of both joy and sadness; a place where memories are in the making.  A garden says so much about its creator~ favorite plants, colors, garden style~ mine is all cottage!  My hope is that these writings will stimulate that new, hopeful gardener to dive into a new project, or inspire the one that has it ‘all’ to do something new.  Gardening is meant to be a joy, so be joyful & garden!

Many people are moved by Shakespeare’s writings and find his work quite fascinating. Some may have even heard of a Shakespeare Garden Theme.  This garden represents plants that have been mentioned in many of his writings. 

As you will notice, many of the plants listed are herbs, and therefore an Herb Garden would be a great way to incorporate this into your yard! 

Remember, as with all gardens, consider your area, drainage, available sunlight or lack of, and the plants growing habits. 

As always, I suggest drawing it out and planning before you start~ this always saves a lot of disappointment.

Here are some specific plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings. Would you consider creating this garden theme? What garden themes do you currently have?

  • *Mustard     
  • *Strawberry
  • *Parsley     
  • *Calendula
  • *Bay           
  • *Carnation
  • *Burnet       
  • *Columbine
  • *Savory      
  • *Flax 
  • *Thyme       
  • *Pink Rose
  • *Marjoram  
  • *Hyssop
  • *Lavender   
  • *Johnny Jump Ups
  • *Lemon Balm  
  • *Myrtle
  • *Chamomile     
  • *Flax
  • *Rosemary     
  • *Mint

If you enjoyed this blog post, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think,  I love your feedback! 

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Happy Day,

Copyright Policy

All text and images on this site are copyright of For Dragonflies And Me. Unless otherwise noted, you may not use this content without written permission.

More Garden Junque: Bountiful Buckets and Yummy Blueberry, Kale and Quinoa Salad


Spring rains have been faithful and all the gardens are looking lush and beautiful. The hosta’s, bleeding hearts and other cool loving plants are thriving while the roses and hydrangea’s are wondering when warmer days will arrive. As I meander along the garden paths, the sweet scent of my Miss. Kim lilacs wafts up across my face… it’s dimply heavenly. Ahhh, spring in the gardens!


Lets move on to another of my favorite garden junque items- old buckets! Whether they be galvanized, tin, old canners or enamel ware, they add charm and delight to any garden space.

pansies in old canner_emailver

I love the thrill of stumbling upon a stash at a yard sale or thrift shop. An exhilarating feeling rushes over me and I think, “I better grab those before someone else sees them!” You garden junquer’s know what I’m talking about.

Three pots with geraniums atop my patios buffet

Three pots with geraniums atop my patios buffet

Purple geraniums look stunning in these mini buckets lining my buffet in the patio! I strewed the pots down to the posts of my buffet and then just place the potted geranium inside… no worries on them tipping or blowing off in heavy winds!

Here are some photo’s from my garden’s and how I’ve used them… hope you’re inspired!

Buckets on the side of my potting shed

Buckets on the side of my potting shed

A lovely trio adorns the side of my potting shed. Filled with Apple Bloosom geraniums say welcome to all those that come up our lane.

Another trio of buckets resting in my outdoor back entry.

Another trio of buckets resting in my outdoor back entry.

These happy hostas planted directly into old buckets greet those as they enter through the outdoor back entry. Hostas typically do very well potted. I always take them out in the fall and replant into one of my garden beds, water and mulch until next year.

Buckets on my porch

Buckets on my porch

I typically always have buckets filled with geraniums and petunia’s scattered on my front porch. Such a happy and relaxing place to rest after a long day in the gardens…

White enamel ware bucket

White enamel ware bucket

I am in love with enamel ware anything, but I hit the jackpot with finding two of these at a sale. Planted with double impatiens is so charming. This pot sets on top of one of my front porch tables.

Pretty pot!

Pretty pot!

One of my favorite things is to take a lush hanging basket and plant it directly into my larger pails! I planted these petunia in my fave pail and simply placed it in the seat hole of one of my garden chairs. Instant wow as I like to say!

Here is another yummy recipe to help you along with the kale that’s coming out of your gardens… along with some super yummy blueberries! Enjoy


Blueberry, Kale, And Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled (prepared according to package directions)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cup shredded kale
3/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh ground pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, blueberries, kale, feta, and almonds. Mix until well combined.
2. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss to fully coat.
3. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Happy Day!
Be sure to check out For Dragonflies Facebook for more ideas, photos and recipes!

More Garden Junque: Charming Chairs

I’ve been busy in the gardens, fields and green houses with all the duties that our farms market and CSA demands of me. But now I can happily and thankfully say that what needed to be done is done! What a splendid feeling that is! My gardens have that full, lush look that cool spring days and frequent rains allow… summers heat hasn’t yet exasperated them… or me.

front porch21

I left all of you off with garden junque topics, so without further adieu, lets move on to one of my favorites… garden chairs.

Putting an established hanging basket in a pot, nestled in the seat of a chair!

Putting an established hanging basket in a pot, nestled in the seat of a chair!

I love to have instant WOW in my garden’s with my larger pots. What I do is purchase large established hanging baskets and then plant them in my patio pots… I think they call that ‘instant gardener gratification’! Here I planted one in a really cool old galvanized milk pail and then set it in the seat hole of the chair.


Here I simply placed a planter with a potted geranium on top of a freshly painted chair.

A simple iron chair resting in the garden

A simple iron chair resting in the garden

You don’t always have to add a potted plant to a chair. Here I’ve used an ornate iron folding chair and simply placed it in the midst of the soon to be blooming Russian sage.


Here is a rooster planter that I put another potted geranium and set in the midst of my front garden.

Here are some idea’s I’ve discovered along the way! Enjoy friends!






Well, I hope this gives you lots of inspiration to get in your gardens… enjoy friends!
Be sure to stop by Dragonflies Facebook at if you haven’t and give a Like & Share!

See you soon!

More Garden Junque: Wonderful Windows

I love this time of year. As each day grows warmer and brighter with the suns rays shining down upon me, I feel those butterflies well up in my stomach. I’m enjoying the time that I can spend outside cleaning my flower beds, dividing my plants and mulching my gardens. March and April were quite difficult to take for us gardeners, at least for us in the Thumb of Michigan. I really can’t complain though… after all, I have my greenhouse where it’s summer everyday.

Well, lets move on with more garden junque- that is sure to cure the faint of heart! I’ve seen lots of great ideas on windows lately and have been able to get lots of great photos. You can see lots of them on For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page at . Please take a trip over there and LIKE & SHARE my page with all your gardening friends.

Here are some nifty ideas on how to re-purpose old windows:

Here I have an old paned window on the side of my potting shed.

Here I have an old paned window on the side of my potting shed.

*Simply hang a window on a porch wasll or the side of a potting shed to give the illusion of a window. I like to put grapevine or bittersweet over the window, cascading down on one side to give it a warm and homey feel.

This window is on the wall of my front porch over an old table.

This window is on the wall of my front porch over an old table.

*Paint a picture on the glass of a window.

*Make a coat rack! This photo is actually a French door… but there just a bunch of windows, right!

This is actually a French door.

This is actually a French door.

*Use a window for the back of a potting table.

Cute back to a potting table

Cute back to a potting table

*Create an organizer.

window pane organizer

*Window pane mini greenhouse. I’ve shown this idea before, but thought it was worth sharing again.

This is my mini window green house. It's so happy!

This is my mini window green house. It’s so happy!

These are only a few of the many ideas. If you have some ideas that you’d like to share, please go to Dragonflies Facebook and post your photo there. I’d love to see them.

Happy Day Friends,

More Garden Junque: Delightful Doors and Yummy Spinach Pie

The sun’s warmth is shining brightly and it is a delight to my soul. I took a stroll through the gardens yesterday to find my tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths are up. Day lilies tips are bright green and the lilacs are budded out… the roses and other shrubs are showing signs of life… spring has finally arrived here at The Garden Gate Farm… and I am so happy!

We’ve been looking at one of my favorite topics lately- garden junque. Today lets look at some ideas on what we can do with doors. Be sure to go to For Dragonflies And Me’s Facebook page… for links to my other articles at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog and several others.

Old doors are a delightful find to the cottage gardener looking to create a whimsical feel in a garden space… maybe a new ‘garden room’ or a back drop to a patio. What about using one at a picket fence for a gate? The idea’s are endless only with your imagination.

Here are some ideas on how-to use old doors inside as well as outside… after all, our gardens should be a reflection of our home’s interior inside.
Indoor Idea’s:

Now that's a privacy wall!

Now that’s a privacy wall!

I took the regular door off my office and replaced it with a really neat old door I picked up at an antique shop. I had wanted to do this for some time, but was waiting for just the right thing. Of course I had an idea in my mind of exactly what I wanted and wouldn’t settle for less!

This is my office door that I found at an antique shop!

This is my office door that I found at an antique shop!

Make a head board out of doors to your bed! Trim the bottom off of two or three doors till you are satisfied with the height and have a one of kind head board that your friends will wish they were dreaming beside.

Outdoor Idea’s:

Place a door on the side of a building and add a decorative touch to it. For example: a basket with flowers, a star or even a wooden garden angel. This door has an interesting ‘potted plant statue’ displayed in front of it!

Very cute idea!

Very cute idea!

If you need to surround your garden with fencing to keep pesky animals out, here is a great way to use an old door for the entrance to it!

What a great entrace into this garden!

What a great entrace into this garden!

Use an old door as a table top in a patio area.

Here I took a french door and placed it on the back of my potting shed. It adds a cute element, especially when I put a living wreath hanging on it.

This is a shot of the back of my potting shed.

This is a shot of the back of my potting shed.

A wooden door can be used to create a back wall for a potting table.

Here is an old door that I simply leaned on the side of my front arbor… just because. I added a sign that welcomes all my family and friends!

My front arbor

My front arbor

Doors can add a lot of charm to any space… like I always say, make it say it’s yours!

With spring comes greens… lots of yummy greens that we can eat fresh or cooked in other yummy ways. Here’s a really easy recipe to test on your family! Enjoy friends!
Yummy Spinach Pie

6 cups baby spinach, trimmed
1/4 cup sweet onion chopped
2 eggs , beaten
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Colby jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. salad dressing
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. celery salt

1. Rinse spinach; chop and place in a large saucepan over medium- high heat; Cook covered for about 3-5 minutes, or until wilted; Drain, pressing out as much of the liquid as possible.
2. Combine remaining ingredients; fold into spinach.
3. Spoon mixture in a well greased 9″ pie plate; bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Life is good, then you garden!

Serendipity Discovered, My Banister Garden and Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche


As you stroll through my garden’s you’ll notice many unusual things sprinkled here and there… peaking out of a cluster of tulips or bowing over a rash planting of zinnias… Friends say that I have a flair for mixing my passion for plants and garden junque, marrying them together into welcoming and intriguing garden rooms. As I place these abandoned and unappreciated objects throughout my gardens it allows me to express my passions using my innate creativity.

Recycling things that no one else wants is something I enjoy doing… I can see the ‘practical’ and artistic use of an old fashioned metal canner… a rusty old wagon wheel… wooden crates or drawers… a wash tub or even more exciting, a derelict water trough… tin buckets, old wheel barrows… garden bikes, chairs… oh the list could go on and on! In my last post I talked about that discovered element… stumbling upon some tiny treasure you’ve been unknowingly looking for. My eye has become quite keen to spotting usable junque at estate sales, thrift shops and even along the curbside. My minds eye is in tune with what I love in my gardens. I’ve been to sales and there and behold an old wooden crate and tin bucket cast off in a corner… yes that will sit beautifully on my porch topped by that tin bucket over flowing with double petunia’s in it!

pansies in old canner_emailver<

As my friends and I walk and talk meandering here and there I watch their faces… I delight in seeing the shocked look at how cute 'they think' my antique metal canner's look planted up with purple pansies… how whimsical that old banister appears in the garden surrounded by a cascade of nasturtiums… and the 'wow' when they see hot pink geraniums in a white enamelware bucket that now sits on a rickety old chair… I love inspiring people, especially in the home and garden.

Banister Garden10 emailver

I name all of my gardens. When we bought our home the upstairs railing was kicked in and totally destroyed by the previous owners… but a beautiful, old white banister still stood. As the men were removing what was left of it and getting ready to toss everything in a ‘junk’ pile, I was quick to say, “Hold on to that! That’s not junk… that is going in a garden!”… and so was born my Banister Garden.

Legend for The Banister Garden
Here is my rendition of my Banister Garden. This garden is just under 200 square feet.

The Banister Garden Emailver

1. Knock Out Rose Bushes- 2 pink
2. Daylily- 2 orange
3. Creeping Phlox- 3 lavender
4. Burning Bush shrub
5. Lavender- Hidcotte
6. Peony- 2 pink
7. Bee’s Balm planted behind Antique Two Burner Antique Canner filled with geraniums. The Banister stands behind the Bee’s Balm
8. Hydrangea- old fashioned white- just planted last summer
9. Iris- purple
10. Purple Bell Flower
11. Varrigated Sedum
12. Purple Ruffles Basil
13. Spirea- pink
~I have a garden chair that sets in the garden and I usually have a tin bucket planted up on it.
This garden like the Side and Bistro was dug up and replanted as well. I didn’t do all of these gardens in one year, it has been a process going on since 2009. This garden has had many faces as you will see in the photo’s at the end of this post under the recipes.

I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to plants as well as for garden junque. If I can’t grow it myself, swap or get from a family member or friend then I wait for stuff to go on clearance. In 2011 I ‘stumbled’ upon a great deal at a big box store on a couple Knock Out rose bushes. They were discounted 75%… now I never would have paid the full price for these even with all the hype about them… I can’t say that anymore! They are worth every penny… honestly, they don’t stop blooming except for about two weeks in mid summer. I would like to get several more and make a hedge with them in another garden… I always have a garden plan in mind!

Banister Garden11 emailver

Here are some idea’s for things to combine in your gardens!
*Tin or Enamelware buckets with either geraniums or double petunias.
*Wash tubs- I purchase nice big hanging baskets and plant them right into them… instant wow! I have also planted them with cascading nasturtiums. (see photo).
*Wooden crates and drawers- I like to incorporate right into my gardens. I will take the bottoms out bury part way, fill with dirt and then plant herbs or again hanging baskets. I also like to use crates on my front porch as both planters and as objects to place other pots on.


*Tea Kettles, coffee pots, old oil cans, any other type of metal container plant worthy. I have planted succulents like Hen’s & Chicks in these, pansies and petunias.
*Mailboxes- I have not done this, (yet) but I have seen some really cool ones done up. You need to use a ‘top’ door type- one where the top opens and the mail drops in (see photo at my blog 😉 )
…here are a few other ideas of some things I have seen, but haven’t done and don’t really fit into my garden scheme, but may be of interest to others…
*Old fashioned claw foot bath tubs- I would plant something tall down the entire center- zinnia’s, cosmos, cleome or all and then have something that trails out all around the edges- Wave Petunias, trailing nasturtiums.
*Row boat or other nautical piece- I would bury it and then do as with the bath tub- height and cascade
*Antique Metal Bed frame- Plant the bed’s legs or just set the frame down on the ground and then using appropriate flowers, plant a design of a quilt block- obviously not too detailed- maybe a Bow Tie, Diamond, Nine Patch or something along those lines.
… there are many other ‘found’ objects that you can use… be creative, you know what you like!
~The key to using any type of container is proper drainage!


We are still in the grips of winter and here is Michigan we just got another six inches of the white stuff… so today I thinking comfort food! Enjoy friends!
Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.


In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 c all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp slat to combine. Add 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tbsp more water, 1 tbsp at a time). Form dough in a 1 inch thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerated until firm, 1 hour or up to 3 days).

“So… what are you going to do with a rickety old wooden chair with chipped paint Jean?” my husband asks me…”It’s serendipity Neil….”
Happy Day,
Please check out, Like and Share my Facebook page for my Dragonfly friends for daily extra recipes, photo’s and more at

Banister Garden8 emailver

This photo was taken in Spring of 2009. This was the first ‘face’ she had… the tulips were beautiful and the creeping phlox looked stunning. Notice the lattice on the side of the front porch… The wisteria that now covers that side of the porch was just a baby in this photo.

Banister Garden14 emailver

Here is a photo of the same garden, same spot but taken in 2012. You can see it is deeper and quite a bit different. The burning bush in the far left corner is larger and now there is the spirea bush in the front right corner.

Banister Garden4 emailver

This photo was taken in Summer 2011. You can see the black ground cover still laying around the edges from the ‘re-do’ that this garden received early in the spring.