Posts tagged elements of a potager
A Glimpse Into An Artist's Potager

Kathy Lafleur's Potager Remember my dear friend, Kathy Lafleur, who has the incredible mosaic-decorated chicken coop? See VintageGardenGal's related post, Chicken Coop FAQ. Well, she has been working hard on her potager, and has allowed us to catch a glimpse.

If you recall in a previous post,7 Elements of a Potager I emphasized that you must create a potager in your personal style. Kathy has done an amazing job of emphasizing her potager elements in her personal style.

Kathy's entrance into her potager is a newly designed archway "welcoming" you to come in. A work in progress, she has made and grouped clay bluebirds and mirror squares, as her beginning mosaic design. On the opposite side of this arch she has planned a surprise for those entering her potager, two espaliered fig trees, whose structure and design will eventually echo the curved archway.

Look closely through her archway and you can see two tall focal points, the first one, a towering Spanish three-tiered fountain, replacing water with heat-loving spilling succulents. More of Kathy's artistic ceramic birds adorn its top and pay homage to the "goodness of the garden." The second towering focal point is her genius "totem" pole, created from her inspiring collection of European vintage watering cans. A straight rod anchors each watering can, and keeps them precariously in place. Kathy's watering can "totem" pole, is an excellent example of repetition. See VintageGardenGal's related post, "Repetition is Design". The simplest things in repetition can create fabulous design.

The heart and soul of any potager are the plots or raised beds. Kathy has several raised beds painted in a vibrant green, to show off each season's vegetables and flowers. Ample gravel pathways allow easy access and working area for each raised bed. Her entire potager is enclosed by a low clay brick wall, enclosure another important element of the potager.

Kathy Lafleur's potager is so inviting, so artistically well-done, when you are in her potager you don't want to leave. It is as functional as a kitchen garden, as it is artistically beautiful to enjoy. When planning your potager, create it in your personal style.

Have you thought of mixing art with functionality in your potager? Do you have a favorite collection you can create something with?

7 Elements Of A Potager

A Potager Changes With Each Season There are many different sizes and styles for a potager, or year-round kitchen garden. In fact, it is important to create a potager in your own personal style. Generally, a potager is a small plot, large enough to feed a family with daily fresh vegetables, accented by fruit and flowers.

Choose your site wisely. A potager is a permanent year-round growing plot which is functional, as well as beautiful. As the months roll into years, you will spend a lot of rewarding time in your potager. Enhance your personal potager by where you locate it, what you grow, how you enclose it, how you adorn it, and how you manage it.

There are many wonderful elements which embody a potager such as enclosure, pathways, borders, structure, order, chaos, beauty, small trees, garden ornaments, the intertwining of function and beauty, and the romantic mixing of vegetables and flowers rotating through their seasons.

Elements That Define A Potager

1)A potager is usually defined by some type of enclosure. Enclosure can be defined as walls, fences, thick hedges. Some of these enclosures can be a working surface for your potager, for espaliered fruit trees, support for tall plantings, and heat retention. Enclosure protects from competing critters and forces such as wind.

2)Pathways are important to divide your plots, create travel pathways, and working space to care for your potager. Pathways may be made of materials such as coarse mulch, gravel, bricks, cement, or even bare soil.

3)Borders can be of a permanent design, for instance growing a low boxwood hedge, a "wood box" edge, or a stone border. Borders may also echo seasonal plantings such as a marigold border, or ornamental cabbage. Like borders will create a formal design in their repetition.

4)Structure is the bones of your potager. Structure can be vertical in the shape of an arbor, small trees, a garden ornament. Structure is also walls, gates, and even terraces. Structure adds interest, and further defines the personal style of your potager.

5)Order versus chaos. You might prefer a very formal potager, set out with boxwood borders, and neatly confined rows of planting. Your potager might start out with order, and as it grows becomes chaos, or a more romantic mixture of vegetables and flowers. Or your plantings from each seasonal beginning may by more informal, such as planting wildflower seeds.

6)Center a focal point in your potager such as a small tree, garden ornament, urn, statuary. In my potager I have planted a bay laurel tree trimmed into a two-ball topiary. A focal point might also be an impressive artichoke plant, which renews itself year and year. More examples of possible focal points are a sundial, bird bath, obelisk, or a planted arbor.

7)Place a convenient tool shed or small building where you can keep all your tools, seeds, perhaps a potting shed, and your other potager resources at hand.

Divide your potager into plots, or if you have raised beds, begin dedicating each plot or raised bed with specific seasonal vegetables you would like to grow. Remember to plant your tallest plants to the north of your potager or in the back plots of your potager.

You can start your potager with any season. Whatever season you start with plant about 2/3 of your potager, and leave 1/3 free to be planted later. For example, create a 9' x 12' plot. Divide your plots in to four rows of three plots each. Begin your potager by planting 9 of your plots, leave three of them empty. Another example, if you have 4 existing raised beds, plant 3 with seasonal vegetables, and leave 1 free to start planting when appropriate for the next season.

Eventually, your potager will slowly move into the next season, as your vegetables mature, are harvested, each plot is tilled, and replanted for the next season. Remember to keep a portion of your potager empty in anticipation of the next planting season. It will take a while to get the "ebb and flow" of it. Eventually, your potager will become fluid.

Everyone has their own timing with the four seasons and climate-specific vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs they can grow. Adapt your plantings to your own seasons, and your own preferences. Classic perennial favorite herbs for a potager include rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and tarragon. Other classic plantings for a potager might include strawberries, melons, annual herbs, espaliered fruit trees, and then of course, the rainbow of seasonal vegetables.

Do you have a potager now? How do you plant and manage it? What is unique about your potager?