Plan Ahead for Next Spring’s Potager Garden

A modern take on the potager garden, with raised beds.

If you have not yet studied the potager garden (pronounced: puh ta zhay), you’re going to love the idea.

But, what is a potager, you ask? It is a garden where the beauty inspires you, and a garden designed to be close to the kitchen to bring vegetables for the cooking pot!

Combining both edible and flowering plants, a potager is purposeful and utilitarian in nature as seen in delightful kitchen beds of England, but designed with aesthetic beauty in mind (inspired by lovely compositions of French gardens).

And why would I write about this topic now and not in the spring? To give time for the ideas to wind around, to germinate, as it were, and for you to create a space for your potager garden before this winter sets in! Anything worthwhile takes time and thought.

The Square Foot Gardening Kit is an ideal foundation for the potager garden. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

So, whether you are a newbie or a seasoned gardener longing for healthier food, be inspired by the beauty to be had in a well-planned potager. You can pack a lot into each square foot of a potager garden.

Flowers and garden plants grow well together in the potager.

“A traditional French kitchen garden ~ potager ~ mingles vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs to make the function of providing food for the table aesthetically pleasing. An urban potager uses every inch of available space, growing edibles and ornamentals on balconies, patios, porches and rooftops.” ~Cynthia Brown, the Smithsonian Gardens’ Education Specialist

There are often rustic elements that add to the earthy beauty. Simple and yet elegant, you can create trellises or pyramids of twigs or that are both practical to support climbing plants, and beautiful, as they show off the plants. Graveled walkways between the beds, or wood-framed raised beds all look wonderful, but are practical too.

Remember that by adding flowers into your plan, by this time of year you will have a non-stop cutting garden as well! Potager gardens have several seasonal peaks, but I think they look best in August, in the very late summer.

Knowing that not all of you live in a part of the world where the weather is conducive to a garden, I still must encourage the rest who do. Even the smallest potager can be very helpful to your family. A truly lovely, working garden doesn’t just happen overnight. It often takes years of dreaming, planning, and hard work. Gardening is, in essence, a creative journey, a picture of God’s design in Creation. Go ahead; dream and plan a little spot right outside your door…

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.” ~ Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was an influential British horticulturist.

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2012.