Choose Your Plants Carefully
As you ponder how to create your garden oasis, consider what plants make you happiest. The more demanding ones are probably best left in town, but the low-maintenance types could be perfect for your summer spot. If your home garden is formal, the cottage garden may be just the place to let your hair down.
The plants you choose should look at home in the landscape. They should also be a balanced selection of native and naturalized plants. It’s important to know the difference between the two: North American native plants are those that existed in your area before European settlement, naturalized plants are non-native plants that do not need human help to reproduce or maintain themselves.
Native plants help restore highly complex eco-systems, attract native pollinators, are important sources of food and shelter for wildlife, and are a good choice for low-maintenance, low water-consumption gardens. At my cottage (Canadian zone 5a), the native plants likely to be found include goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), fringed aster (Aster ciliolatus), common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), spotted Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). It may be possible to relocate some of the native or naturalized plants from surrounding areas to the cottage garden, but many don’t take well to transplanting. (There’s a reason they’ve become established where they have.) Take sun, shade and soil types into account. What grows in one corner of the property may not thrive (or even survive) if moved to what is a vastly different environment for that particular plant.
Swamp milkweed is a beautiful native plant that provides food for butterflies.