Bounty of Blooms

Welcome to this color-filled garden where the blossoms are standing-room only.

Steve Bender
May 2008 Resources

If Kathy Greeley’s flowers were marines, they’d be kicked out of the corps for refusing to follow the rules. They do not grow in straight lines. They sprout where they like. They bloom in all directions, and some don’t stand straight. But Kathy doesn’t mind. This exuberant lack of regimentation is exactly the look she’s after.

“I want an English cottage-style garden,” says the interior designer and avid flower arranger. “I want lots of flowers for cutting--roses, larkspurs, foxgloves, delphiniums, and peonies.” A bounty of blooms arrives on cue from spring through fall. The look perfectly suits her cozy, modest-size home in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Hunter Stubbs of B.B. Barns Landscape Company in nearby Arden helped Kathy design the garden and still helps to maintain it. He defines the style as a grandma’s garden. It has a lot of familiar flowers--including Siberian irises, poppies, and other plants--that are typically passed around.

Old, dependable peony selections such as “Sarah Bernhardt” (rose pink) and “Felix Crousse” (ruby red) exemplify this. Kathy dug them up from the garden of her mother and stepfather. “My stepfather died last year at 94, and these peonies were his mother’s,” she recalls.

Many Happy Returns
The genius of the cottage style is that many of its key flowers come back from seed, so you have to plant them only once. Such is the case with Kathy’s foxgloves, larkspurs, poppies, hollyhocks, and summer bloomers such as cleomes. If a flower sprouts in an inconvenient place, you pull it, but otherwise you let it be and watch the garden change from year to year.

“You need the good sense to leave things alone,” asserts Hunter. “Let things just sort of happen. If you’re too neurotic about it, this is not your style of garden. The best compliment you can get is for people to think it happened by accident.”