In the Kitchen

Today's ornamental kitchen garden generally is smaller and less formal than the traditional potager (puh'-tuh-zhay) that originated in 16th Century Europe. With the typical French chateau potager, a tasty tapestry of herbs, fruits, flowers and vegetables was planted a few feet from the kitchen door and delivered dew-fresh to the table.

Record high food costs have made vegetable gardening more popular, but that doesn't mean gardeners must work from miniature farm production plots -- rectangular in shape with plants aligned in parallel rows we can do it all in the kitchen. That's a proven arrangement, to be sure, but it's also uninteresting.
The humble vegetable, if chosen well and given some landscaping help, can elevate the kitchen garden into a living, vibrant work of art.

In a potager garden you can play with shapes. Sure you can do symmetrical shapes which create a more formal feel, but you can also incorporate curves, patterns and even tunnels. You can incorporate pathways, water features and focal points like a charming bench or table to rest at, or something as dramatic as a statue.

The medieval potager garden was distinguished by a combination of walls, gates, walkways and growing beds. They provided a sense of privacy, a degree of shelter, enough space for crop rotation, seasonal beauty, usefulness and order. Many of those plants, including fruit trees and shrubs, were trained to grow upward into two-dimensional decorations on walls or fences. Herbal knot gardens also were customary.

Contemporary kitchen garden design is more casual and more personal. It borrows features common to healing gardens (raised beds, walkways), meditation gardens (twisting and turning trails, statuary or fountains) and outdoor rooms (trees, benches and hedged borders).

The French have such a fabulous way of presenting the humble little kitchen garden. Originating back in 16th century France, everybody had one, from the grand aristocratic families to the humble little country farmer, it was the cool thing to do.

A potager garden is much more than just your average square vegetable plot plunked down in the corner of your yard. They are a more formal take on a kitchen garden. Instead of straight rows and rows of veggies, you will find fantastic designs of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers all mixed together in specific ways designed to create an overall effect.

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Published on June 01, 2009 at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

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