Potager Planning

It seems like a lifetime has passed since I first dreamed the potager garden. In reality, it’s been about a year and a half. But it is surreal that the time to plan and plant is quickly approaching!

This has been my brain child for so long, it’s actually hard to believe that I’ve gotten through all the preliminary clearing and preparation phases. And I get to watch it be born this spring and summer! 🤣

So today, I cut some sticks for pole bean tripods. I decided on 3. I figure that’ll give me 9 plants, and if I get a decent crop of beans off them, that’s kind of all bonus, as I only really planned on doing my bush beans for fresh eating and canning. The pole beans I just like for the duality of practical and aesthetic value. If there’s one thing I learned from my time studying theatre, it’s that the set has to have “levels.”

“Levels” is not just height and depth. It also refers to the overall balance of the stage; not only height and depth, but entrances and exits, focal points, movement, stationary pieces, structural pieces, that all work together to help tell the story. If one side has numerous entrances and exits, it has to be balanced by something stationary, yet exciting and eye catching.

In the garden, I view the garden space as a stage. I have the bones of the set, which is a series of beds, with natural stone, terraced into the hillside. There are static pieces, such as the dogwoods and the honey suckle. I have perennial players like the yucca, periwinkle, primrose, and hollyhocks. And this year I added peonies near the day lilies. I hope that the beans add height to the garden and draw the eyes up and back.

From the opposite side, the beans are the backdrop for the annuals and flowers. I’m thinking of planting some silly pumpkins or maybe the Hubbard squash seed in the late summer so that by autumn, we have a whimsical, old-world feel.

Speaking of old-world feel, I’ve been really dreaming about a vineyard. Nothing huge, but that’s my dream for the hugelkultur swale. My dream is to plant grapes and trellis them along the length of the swale where we have been filling it in with wood, sticks, grass clippings, leaves, composted chicken manure, etc. The end goal is something like a self-fertile bed for the grapes with an arbor and a bridge, and maybe some roses just for their own sake.

It’s funny, the more I try for one specific “feel” in the gardens, the more eclectic it ends up being. It’s like my ancestral heritage comes out in the design and style; I have old English Tudor-style trellises and terraces, old world German flower beds, the water and shade loving ferns and mosses reminiscent of Irish gardens… All of it growing up into “kept forests.” As the gardener, I want it all to seem natural, and flowing, just looking slightly maintained, and never forced. There’s still work to be done to achieve the ultimate goal, but there’s plenty of beauty to enjoy along the way.

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2 thoughts on “Potager Planning

  1. It appears from the pictures that you have a lot of competition for light in the garden area. Obviously the sun is still very low in the sky due to the season, and doesn’t give an accurate sense of how things will be in June. Have you had success growing things in previous years in those same spots?

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    1. They were taken at sunset, so yes, the sunlight was minimal.
      We have cut down several dogwoods to open up the space, and we successfully have grown hollyhocks, daylilies and yuccas so far. Other than that, it has been extremely overgrown so this is the first chance we’ve had to try planting anything in those areas.

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