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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!