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Adventurous gardeners everywhere, welcome to our website for 2014. In business for 29 years, and gardeners for many more, we are a popular family owned destination nursery in southwestern Illinois specializing in plants that thrive in the hot and humid summer climate of the lower Midwest. Enter our website for truly unique plants, many introduced to the greater St. Louis area by us. Unlike the X-Marts, we seek out the new and unusual and our passion is displaying them in creative and innovative ways.

Our plant list continues to grow, trial tested in containers and display beds throughout the nursery area. We adore nature friendly plants that attract beneficial insects and birds, and our list reflects that passion.

New for 2014    We are seeding gravel beds around the retail area with pollen and nectar rich annuals and larval host plants and native perennials to nourish our local insect population. This in turn will feed the many beautiful songbirds you see when you visit our nursery. We love nature and are committed to growing plants that benefit our local wildlife. We, in turn, are blessed by their presence. 

Cottage Garden is also renowned for our hummingbird plant collection that includes a large number of salvia, cuphea, justicia (‘shrimp’ plants), agastache (hummingbird mint) and winter hardy native perennials. Anytime from mid-April through mid-October you are sure to see many ruby throated hummers dipping and diving into our many magical display containers and garden beds for nectar and insects. Our gardens are a work in progress, evolving to become low maintenance yet colorful and interesting over a long season. We know you will enjoy them and be inspired!

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A word about our plants. We grow all of our plant material here on our prairie nursery in the beautiful southwest countryside of Macoupin County. Perennials are exposed to a hardy outdoor climate year round, and will not require fussy acclimating when you take them home. Plant them out directly and watch them take off. Annuals and tropicals are greenhouse grown and exposed to the cooler temperatures of spring before you purchase them. They should be planted out when night time temperatures remain above 50-55 degrees fahrenheit. We do not use growth retardants or dangerous neonicotinoids destructive to bees and insects on any of our plants.  A porous bark-based potting mix  promotes optimal growth so you can expect a fast and vigorous ‘take off’ when you plant them in your own garden.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2014   This year we have over 150 new varieties of tropicals/annuals and succulents. Container sizes range from 4” pots to 3 and 5 gallon containers. How about some jaw dropping ‘thrillers’?  Bring on the spectacular new elephant ears from Brian Williams Colocasia ‘Gigante’ series and Dr. John Cho’s Royal Hawaiian Colocasia series, featuring boldly beautiful foliage, exotic beauty and a glamorous living architecture ideal for containers and garden beds. ‘Victorius Gigante’ is a phenomenol new ‘ear’ with puckered, humongous leaves resembling an Amazonian water lily.  The blush green leaves curl upward along the edges and are held aloft on sturdy red stems, simply breathtaking!  ‘Dragon Heart Gigante’ is another impossibly beautiful selection with smoky black, huge, heart shaped leaves. Colocasia ‘White Lava’ boasts seer-suckered deep green leaves with bold, creamy white veins and bright red leaf stems, one of the finest variegated elephant ears I have seen. Colocasia ‘Maui Gold’ is a sun tolerant ‘ear’ with chartreuse – gold leaves that will not burn in our intense summer sun. These spectacular new elephant ears thrive in heat and humidity, tolerating full sun to half day sun.

Ramp up the container excitement with Juannulloa aurantiaca (Gold Finger) this summer. The exotic, interesting inflated orange tubular blooms evolved to be pollinated by hummingbirds in its Central American haunts, an unusual and entertaining patio specimen. Another great container tropical new this spring is Mussaenda ‘Dark Pink’, a shrubby poinsettia relative with awesome large pink flowers loved by butterflies.

Other heat tolerant tropicals and annuals include Tecoma x stans ‘Bells of Fire’ bearing red-orange trumpet shaped blooms, and Tecoma x stans ‘Lydia’, with canary yellow fragrant blooms, both celebrated new hybrids of trumpet bush with a more compact habit, blooming at an early age. Tecoma ‘Sparky’ lives up to its name with bright yellow blossoms eye zoned in red. Salvia splendens ‘Peach’ offers soft peach- hued blossoms that cover the plant spring through fall, morphing into a three foot wide and high clump covered in emerald green leaves. This Salvia splendens selection prefers partial shade and certainly afternoon shade, a Cottage Garden exclusive that hummingbirds love!  American native annuals are hard to come by, but we are offering a few selections of the species. Cleome serrulata ‘Solo’ is a diminutive plant with charming magenta/white blooms typical of the genus. Gaillardia pulchella ‘Punch Bowl’ is a lovely pink selection of our native blanketflower. Both are attractive to beneficial insects. 

Our new Sun/Shade Perennials collection offers dependable heat and drought tolerant plants, many derived from American native plants. Newcomers include Asclepias syriaca (Common milkweed), Boltonia ‘Jim Crockett’, Clematis virginiana, Pycnanthemum pilosum, Scutellaria ovata (heartleaf skullcap) and native perennials grown from seed collected in our local Illinois community by Ken Schaal of Bluestem Nursery. These plants are noted as ‘Illinois Ecotype’ in our plant lists. We are also offering a selection of native woody plants from Forrest Keeling, essential for the modern eco sensitive garden. Check into our Sun and Shade Perennials pages for many new varieties for 2014.

We are often asked ‘When are all plants available?’  Availability fluctuates since plants grow at their own pace. We suggest you call or email for availability on specific plants before visiting. Availability peaks from April onward. We look forward to seeing you this spring and summer! 

Bill and Chris Kelley


© Cottage Garden 2014