Thursday, December 30, 2010

Four seasons in the potager - transformation of the allotment garden - Happy New Year!

When I bought my allotment in late summer of 2009, one of my goals was to create a potager, sometimes known as an herb or kitchen garden, or in German Bauerngarten, with the elements traditional to this European garden style: symmetrical form, hedging, a centerpiece, and a mixture of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

Now, a year and a half and lots of planning, digging and planting later, the potager is pretty much how I want it to be. For final post of the year 2010 I've put together a review showing the transformation throughout the four seasons.

August 2009
Here's what the area intended for the potager looked like when we bought the garden. It was occupied mostly by a makeshift tomato shelter and several beds of wax beans, bordered by roses and currant bushes.

September-October-November 2009
We removed or transplanted almost everything, tore down the tomato house, ripped out the wooden planks serving as paths, removed some of the lawn, hoed and improved the soil by adding compost, planted lupins as green manure (which were unfortunately greatly decimated by slugs - my first introduction to our slug problem), and began planting a boxwood hedge around the perimeter.
Before winter set in, we completed the outer perimeter of boxwood and planted some bulbs and perennials.

Winter 2009
My husband climbed the trees on the edge of the garden and pruned them considerably in order to let more sunlight into the potager. It was really worth it. After that, the garden lay dormant under the occasional light blanket of snow until spring.

March 2010
Finally I could continue! The main jobs to be accomplished in the spring were to lay the stone tiles for the four paths, create a circular area in the center where the paths would meet and the centerpiece, a birdbath, would be located, fill the center with gravel and plant a circular boxwood hedge around it. And of course to begin planting in the resulting four sections of the potager. My little boxwoods had all survived the winter well.

April 2010
It turned out to be harder than I had imagined to find a birdbath I liked. On a trip to Holland to visit an old friend, I stopped by one of that country's fabulous gardening centers on the way home and finally found one.

May-June 2010
Simultaneously with completion of the paths, gravel and hedging, the bulbs and perennials planted in the fall started to bloom, and I was delighted with progress so far!

Summer-Fall 2010
In the course of the summer I planted two of the quadrants mostly with vegetables and herbs, and two with predominantly flowers in a mix of annuals and perennials. In each section we kept at least one of the heritage roses I inherited from our predecessor. I revised my original planning to accommodate for the slug problem. If you're interested in my conclusions on slugs after a summer of observation, here's a post I wrote on it. The following shots are of early and late summer, respectively.

Winter 2010
This winter I'll be spending some time planning improvements for the spring - some things were too big or too small for their locations, some areas need a different mix of blooms, the zucchinis have to go somewhere else, and I'm considering putting some kind of tarp under the gravel to keep plants from growing through. This year we've had lots of snow, but the potager has enough contours now to look nice even so.

It's been a wonderful gardening year for me.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas - Fröhliche Weihnachten

I wish you all the very best for the holidays as well as happiness, health and prosperity in the New Year!

My grandmother gave this December Angel to my mother when I was born. It has adorned our Christmas table ever since.