Saturday, May 20, 2023

Lake House Living

Lake House Living is casual and relaxed. Think childhood summers at the lake house and long summer days of picnics and barbecues. Evenings playing games on the porch and nights under the stars with a cozy quilt. Our collection of Lake House decor features fabulous rugs, bedding, pillows and art.

If you do not have a lake house and dream of owning one you can create a cozy retreat in your house with our lake house decor.

Lake House Pillow

Lavender Fields offers full interior design services locally and nationwide. If you are setting up your dream lake house contact us for details. 

Visit our retail shop at 250 E Main Street Port Jefferson, New York

Monday, May 15, 2023

How to Create a Low-Maintenance Pollinator-Friendly Garden [With Links]

 How to Create a Pollinator-Friendly Cottage Garden

We love beautiful cottage gardens - they're like candy for pollinators like hummingbirds, bumblebees, and butterflies. These little flying friends don't just look pretty, they provide an essential service for humankind. According to the US Department of Agriculture, "Without pollinators, the human race and all of earth's terrestrial ecosystems would not survive. Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, i.e., those that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination by animals."

Unfortunately, in suburban areas especially, pollinators are in trouble. Due to climate change, overspraying of pesticides and lawn chemicals, and a lack of pollinator-friendly plants, pollinators have a hard time finding food and shelter.

The good news? Pollinator-friendly gardens are beautiful, and once you get them in the ground, the plants can be easy to maintain. Most of them are perennials or hardy, deer-resistant annuals like zinnias. 

Pollinator Garden Supplies: 

Butterfly House

Butterfly Feeder

Bird Bath Fountain Pump

Solar Pathway Lights

Star Solar String Lights

What Needs to Be in a Pollinator Garden? 

Some general tips for a pollinator garden are:
  • Less grass, more garden beds. Pollinators can't feed on or shelter in vast expanses of grass. Removing the grass to create more garden beds is the first step to making your yard more pollinator-friendly: and the best part is, more garden beds, more room for beautiful cottage gardens! 
  • And most importantly, restrict the use of pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides kill all bugs, not just the ones you don't want, and herbicides can severely harm pollinators. All-natural options like tick tubes and mosquito dunks are more effective and much less effective than sprays, anyway. 

How do You Organize a Pollinator Garden? 

As with any garden design, you want to layer the heights - not just for visual interest, but for the pollinators themselves. They need little spots to rest on and shelter in.

Start with your larger shrubs in the back, then your medium-height plants in the middle. 

If you're going with a cottage garden design, you can start small, then fill it in as you find plants you love. If you're using plants that spread, like butterfly milkweed and yarrow, make sure to leave space for them. 

Are Pollinator Gardens Low Maintenance?  

If you're planting a lot of perennials, pollinator gardens can be very low-maintenance! They come back year after year. 

Adding weed-preventing ground cover like creeping thyme or phlox can make it even easier. 

Not a pollinator, but a pollinator-appreciator! 

Are there Pollinator-Friendly Perennials?  

There are plenty of pollinator-friendly perennials. Some of our favorites are:

  • Butterfly milkweed: an essential shelter for Monarch butterflies - a must-have for any pollinator garden!
  • Catmint: this grows big and beautiful, and is especially beautiful next to a fence or trellis. 
  • Salvia: similar to lavender, it grows big with beautiful color. 
  • Lavender: perfect for dry areas with sandy soil.
  • Yarrow: grows like crazy in sandy, dry areas. 
  • Liatris: excellent to pop in as bulbs in the spring, they grow fast and don't spread too much.

Are there Pollinator-Friendly Annuals?  

  • Wildflower Seed Mix is the easiest way to plant annuals. 
  • Zinnias are deer-resistant and last until the fall. 
  • Cosmos are a beautiful addition to our garden this year, they grow nice and tall. 
  • Sunflowers are a favorite, as long as you protect them from deer when they're small (they'll bite the heads right off!) 

Our sweet Ray loved to watch the butterflies

How to Create a Dreamy Cottage Garden [With Tour and Links] | Updated 2023

How to Create a Cottage Garden

  • Cottage gardens are full of pollinator-friendly plants and not too planned out. I love them because you can find a plant you love, tuck it in somewhere, and it'll fit right in. 
  • The non-toxic pest controls work better and are much less expensive than the poisonous sprays! Mosquito dunks, tick tubes, and deer fences work like a charm. Neem Oil and Copper fungicide, applied on alternating weeks, will help with bugs that eat your plants and fungus that affects their health. For hungry rabbits and squirrels, Bonide's Repel-All Spray is a lifesaver. It uses this egg solid mixture instead of poisonous chemicals. It stinks to high heaven while you spray it, but keeps the critters away. 
  • Dwarf trees are my secret for controlled shade. Have an area where you only need a little bit of shade? Dwarf trees are the perfect fix. 

Cottage Garden Supplies

Neem Oil for all natural pest control
All Natural Spray to Repel Pests
Flea and Tick Spray
Tick Tubes

My Personal Cottage Garden To-Do List

Here's my personal to-do list for my garden this summer:
  • Remove grass from front yard and create a cottage garden adding seasonal interest.
  • Create paths in the side garden - one with crushers (Martha Stewart inspired) and the other with Irish moss) again removing all grass.

  • Create path to pool with crushers also removed more grass and will remove grass on either side and plant to create privacy.
Once they're maintained, they need such low maintenance!

  • Side garden in backyard. Remove grass and plant all pollinators in my bird and bee garden.
  • Small lavender and catmint garden on the opposite side for pollinators.
  • Create a mural with Ava on the side wall.
  • Maintain slate path by weeding between slate and patching cement. 
  • Add climbing roses to side arbor.
These beautiful climbing roses are a season-long stunner! 

  • Work on sloped front garden to stop erosion and add privacy.
  • Add to fairy garden
  • Back garden install fence and add more plants this year. This has been a tough area due to the deer going to watch this one over the summer before adding more plants since I lost so many last year. Soil is poor so I had a rock wall installed and added all fresh soil and planted roses and hydrangeas two years ago but it is not doing too well.
  • Create a Japanese garden in the backyard. This is going to be a huge task as it is a big space. Thinking of starting with planting dwarf trees and creating paths. Doing a lot of research first.
  • Herb garden - growing sage, chamomile, mint and basil
These look and smell beautiful! 

  • Rose garden front right - adding some low plants for weed prevention.
  • Front of picket fence. Adding catmint and roses. 
  • Paint adirondack furniture and maintain rock seating area under Japanese Maple. The mother of this tree died a few years after I moved in and I was devastated but she dropped seeds and one took off and is getting huge.
  • Paint picket fence and maintain.

  • Work on front paths to help with erosion. House is on a sloped side and water pours down path when it rains. Had to have the entire front of the house sealed. Working on the front of the fence to avoid the erosion.

Cottage Garden Advice

The best advice I can give while working on so many projects is something I learned from a mentor many years ago. Do a little of each project each day so it is not so overwhelming and before you know it you get so much done. This has worked for so many projects in my life from work to my home.  Yesterday morning was beautiful so before I went to the store I painted some of the front picket fence and then dug up some more grass for the cottage garden. When I was out shopping for groceries after work, I picked up a few lavender plants and catmint and soil for my iris moss path.  On a busy day I was able to fit in some gardening tasks I did not think were possible. This morning I will be weeding the irish moss path and putting down the soil and planting the moss.

The best garden inspiration: my beautiful daughter Ava and Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island