The Cottage Landscape

With the interior of the cottage basically finished, it became time to shift my efforts to the exterior, in particular the new landscaping and yard. If you remember, the front of the cottage was completely overgrown with Red Tip Photinias and the backyard, well, was just COMPLETELY overgrown with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.  Years of neglect allowed for all kinds of bulbs, poison ivy and other shrubbery to absolutely take over.  In a nutshell, EVERYTHING, except a beautiful tulip tree, one dogwood and a few other smaller trees in the back corner, was essentially wiped out and I was presented with a blank slate.

As with the rest of the restoration, I was adamant everything stay as close to “period” as possible. Meaning, I didn’t want any vegetation flanking the cottage that would not have been native to Louisiana in 1926 (the year the cottage was built).

After spending hours researching, and talking with several landscaping experts, I settled on a design rich in both texture and color.  Both features were extremely important to me.  The landscaping was the crowning glory for the cottage and it was definitely one aspect I did not want to get wrong.

Across the front porch of the cottage, I chose Dwarf Burford Hollies.  One glance at them at a local nursery and I was sold!  The deep green leaves and bright, red winter berries provide the perfect pop of color against the freshly painted, white siding.  Flanking both sides of the walkway, I chose Yuletide Sasanqua Camellias. Both ends of the front porch are bordered with deep pink Crepe Myrtles, Dwarf Gardenias and Variegated Liriope.

Photo: Callie Jo Photography

Along the north side of the cottage and driveway area, I knew I again wanted pops of color but also lots of fragrance to greet me when I arrived home.  Behind the Crepe Myrtle, the north side wall starts with bright yellow Ligustrum and Dwarf Gardenias separated by a small flagstone walkway that provides access to the front porch.  Then, one of the most southern plants of all, Hydrangeas, flow beneath my dining room and kitchen windows.  They are supposed to be pink, but who knew the color could change based on the soil?! (Apparently this is a well-known fact I wasn’t aware of.)  We’ll see what happens in the spring!  Nearing the backporch area, the bed comes to a point, so I chose to fill a small area with Society Garlic that will bloom bright purple in the spring.  There is a tinge of a “garlic-y” odor, but it only compels me to cook!

Moving around to the backporch (that was newly added to the cottage), Dwarf Yaupon Hollies line the brick border.  Near the new bedswing (created by Ali’s Creations in Calhoun, La), I knew, again, I wanted lots of fragrance.   So there are two Sweet Olives, Dwarf Gardenias and more Society Garlic.

Along the south side of the cottage, you’ll see a line of pink Knockout Roses (yes, Knockouts are a relatively new hybrid, but roses were definitely a part of a 1926 landscape) that are sure to be showstoppers when traveling north up McDonald Street.

You may remember, I also had Bolin Construction erect a new garage in the backyard area. So of course, it needed its own “mini-bed” too! Keeping consistent with the rest of the landscaping, I included another Sweet Olive, Sasanqua Camellias, Variegated Liriope and Dianthus.  In addition, there are a few pads of flagstone leading to the entrance of the craft room.

Photo: Callie Jo Photography

Then, to REALLY put on a show, approximately 36 flats of Pansies and Dianthus line all the beds and Variegated Liriope is sprinkled throughout.  To top everything off, about 13 pallets of “magic” St. Augustine grass were installed to give me an instantly GREEN yard just as winter is beginning!

As I watched this process unfold (with gracious thanks to Robert Jones, of Four Seasons Landscaping of Minden), my heart beamed.  With every square of grass placed, every hole dug and each bundle of pine straw carefully positioned, this little cottage became closer and closer to the beauty she once was. When the landscaping was completed and I stepped across to Academy Park for a panoramic view, I could hardly believe this was the same cottage I spotted on that Christmas drive 3 years ago. I was overwhelmed to say the least.  I “saw” THIS cottage when I first drove by, underneath all the overgrowth and neglect.  I saw the potential and KNEW what could be. And after all the prayer circles (mine and others), this little cottage is complete!  But the journey is just beginning….

Spring will be here before we know it and it will be time to change out the annuals.  I’ll go ahead and tell y’all, I’m a MASSIVE fan of petunias and I will MIRACLE-GRO the heck out of them to get them all bushy and big.  So stay tuned for that!  What are some of your favorite annuals and/or shrubs, etc. to landscape with?  I’d love to hear in the comments below. 

*This post first appeared in the January/February 2018 of The Minute Magazine and can be read here


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  1. Susan says:

    It looks fantastic. Great choices. We have a lot of deer in our area and they eat everything!! How about a few lilac trees?? And peonies ?

  2. Sonya says:

    Another “old” flower option are 4 o’clocks. I have them blooming at our property next door to our home that was built in the early1900’s. Easy to tend to & come back every year. I love lantana also.

    • Simply Sara says:

      Oh I agree on both! I love four oclocks! My mamaw had some. I would love to find the old timey ones like she had. And I love lantana too! Love the butterflies it attracts!

  3. Sonya says:

    I can save you some seeds or we might could find some little ones this spring for you to transplant. My Mamaw had them & Touch Me Nots. Haven’t seen those in years.

    • Simply Sara says:

      Oh would you! Are you local to Minden or I can pay to have them shipped? Just email me at sara at I would be SOOOOO grateful!

  4. Donna says:

    Absolutely love everything you’ve done. Your housr is beautiful. Looking forward to seeing all the decoration ideas you share. Love love love ❤❤❤

  5. Wow. These pictures are very beautiful. looking forward to more pots from you.

  6. Amy says:

    Wow! Your landscaping is so beautiful. I love everything about your garden, including the knockout roses and the pansies! I bet some blue salvia would look great with the roses. Just make sure to fertilize the roses on a regular basis. I prefer liquid fertilizer on my roses because I get more flowers that way. Have a blessed day and much luck with your garden Sara.

  7. Ashwin says:

    I have them blooming at our property next door to our home that was built in the early1900’s. Easy to tend to & come back every year. I love lantana also

  8. Jessica says:

    Beautiful home! We just bought our fixer house and trying to find inspiration for our landscaping design. Pleasant with pops of color!

  9. Gregg Jones says:

    Your garden is simple yet beautiful. I liked the hardwork you put in your landscape. I also have a beautiful landscape but I got it doen from a professional Landscape architect.

  10. Ava says:

    I love everything about your garden, including the knockout roses and the pansies! I prefer liquid fertilizer on my roses because I get more flowers that way. Your house is beautiful and amazing.

  11. Your yard, as well as the trees and plants in it, also play an important part in cleaning the air around your home, so it is just as crucial to keep them healthy as well.

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