On the near northside, in a sea of severely modern new construction homes (sharp angles and edges, lots of stone, and tons of ornamental grass), the Browns’ stands apart as an example of traditional architecture melded with modern style. Hannah wanted to create a garden where she could teach her three kids about nature, and since she’s a gardener with significant experience, she had both knowledge and time to spend working in the garden, making “low maintenance” design a low priority.
A Cottage Garden for Butterflies, Birds, and Cut Flowers
- The Site
A full-sun front garden in a new construction neighborhood with rock-hard soil.
- The Task
Create a vibrant cottage garden where children can observe butterflies and birds and where the homeowner can cut flowers.
The Browns wanted to feel immersed in the garden from the front porch without feeling boxed in, so we designed a refined cottage style: bright and traditional flowers, but more organized than the traditional cottage jumble. We began by breaking up the rock-hard soil, incorporating compost, and improving the small drainage outlet near the sidewalk with a stone basin planted with cardinal flower. To compliment the lovely blue facade, we chose brightly hued flowers that doubled as cutting flowers, including red yarrow, bright yellow tickseed, and purple aster. The south side of the house is all natives selected specifically to provide food and habitat for butterflies, birds, and pollinators. Viburnum and chokeberry offer fruits to birds (and amazing fall color), while switchgrass provides food and cover to seed-eating birds and small mammals, and bright orange butterfly weed hosts monarch butterflies.
Hannah has continued to make the garden her own, adding whimsical allium bulbs, and uses the space as a learning garden year-round where her children can observe progress every day. When we visited last spring, her son was convinced that bees grew inside the flowers and would emerge once they bloomed. We look forward to charting the development of his hypothesis.