Potager article for the Pigeon Magazine, May 2016

 

Garden space round here is scarce and valuable, but if you want to appeal to all the senses there is a style of garden known as a potager which balances beauty with growing to eat.

The idea is to combine flowers with decorative vegetable plants, and instead of conventional shrubs use herbs such as rosemary, lovage and sage, or fruit bushes to create structure. A top storey of small fruit trees completes a lovely and productive picture.

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A few firm favourites are yellow podded mange tout, which are so sweet I eat them straight from the plant and they rarely make it as far as the kitchen.

A ‘Fairylights’ chilli is as pretty as any bedding in a pot, and I often surround it with basil as that is so good to nibble as I garden.

Blueberries will give you blossom, berries and autumn colour, and for height I’d add in some red flowered runner beans, whose big leaves can add to a tropical style garden, and look great with cannas.

While for ground cover try Chives, Wild Strawberries or Poached Egg plant, which makes a pretty salad.

Although often cottage garden in style, a potager can be striking and modern: I have my ‘monsters bed’ which combines a gunnera and hollyhock with fennel and mint for tea and angellica for salads and cakes.

How about combining a purple phormium with yellow nasturtium and purple climbing beans, or let fluffy, flowery chamomile wash against clipped box balls… the possibilities are endless.