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.



  1. Looks beautiful Barbara - is the potager neat to your house.

    We have to rent allotments so are a bit more restricted as to what we so with them really.

  2. Congratulations Barbara! What a great first year! Your design is lovely and fine tuning will be fun. Your plants look so robust and healthy. Just Beautiful! I will have to go and reread your slug post. Wishing you the HAPPIEST OF NEW YEARS in gardening and all of Life!

  3. Our allotment is about 5 km from our downtown apartment. There aren't too many restrictions on what we can do there, except that we can't build a house on it! There's a small cottage, but no electricity or plumbing.

    Thanks, Carol, for your kind comment. I doubt if the fine tuning will ever be completed - but that's what's great about gardening, right?

  4. Wow! I love seeing the transformation that occurs with the seasons!
    You have a good eye for layout.
    Happy New Year!

  5. Barbara, What a wonderful transformation! It should be fun to tweak this and turn it even more into what you want in the coming season. Happy New Year! -Jean

  6. Your potager is coming together beautifully Barbara. I know what you mean about bird baths (and fountains come to that). You have an idea of what you're looking for, and sometimes finding the exact right one can be so very challenging. I love your choice, the scale is just right, and it suits the garden perfectly!

  7. The changes are stunning! Nice structure. Happy New Year to you!

  8. Wow, your potager has really come along beautifully. I really like the mixture of formality and abundance, even if the zucchini do look a bit intimidating in that spot.

  9. It seems as if last year was really a happy one for you,I envy your for all that space you have for vegetables...und natürlich gefällt mir Deine Idee einen Bauerngarten nach alten Ideen zu schaffen. Und außerdem beneide ich Dich auch um dieses einzigartige Birnenspalier, das mir schon vorher in Deinem Garten aufgefallen ist. Es hat mich angeregt so ein Spalier selbst an unserer Grundstücksgrenze zum Nachbarn zu ziehen.
    Hast Du eigentlich schon mal darüber ausführlicher berichtet?

    Ein frohes neues Jahr wünscht Dir
    Sisah aus dem Fließtal

  10. What a transformation Barbara. It has come a long way and well worth all of the hard work. The birdbath is just the thing and I love your roses.
    Happy New Year to you!

  11. It's a big project! I hadn't realised you were engaged in a massive re-design like this. It must be alarming to dig out what's there but satisfying when it turns out right.

    Best wishes for 2011.


  12. Liebe Barbara, vielen Dank für Deine lieben Weihnachtsgrüße! Ich war sogar am 1. Weihnachtsfeierag in Mannheim bei meiner Mutter. Es war die schlimmste Autofahrt seit Jahrzehnten, denn es war nichts geräumt. Soviel Schnee hatte ich in Mannheim direkt eigentlich noch nie vorher gesehen:o. Nun zu Deinem herrlichen Schrebergarten. Es hat sich alles prächtig entwickelt! Du hast die ganze Entwicklung wirklich schön dokumentiert und hier gezeigt. Auch mir gefällt Deine Gartenbegrenzung durch das Spalierobst ausgezeichnet. Das unterstreicht noch einmal den bäuerlichen Stil des Gartens. Ich habe mir ja auch ein Birnenspalier angelegt und bin ganz glücklich damit. Nun versuche ich auch Aprikosen am Spalier zu ziehen und bin gespannt, ob das gelingen wird. Ein Garten ist etwas wunderbares und es stimmt ein alter Sruch der so geht. Willst Du ein Jahr glücklich sein, dann verliebe Dich. Willst Du viele Jahre glücklich sein, dann erlerne einen guten Beruf. Willst Du ein Leben lang glücklich sein, dann schaffe Dir einen Garten an:-)) In diesem Sinne wünsche ich Dir ein weiteres glückliches Gartenjahr. Herzliche Grüße von Luzia.

  13. Liebe Barbara, danke für Deine Kommentare. Die Mohnbilder sind in der Tat Aquarelle (eine kleines und ein großes). Diese wunderbare Pflanze will jedes Jahr aufs Neue von mir gemalt werden;-)) Mein Birnenspalier kann ich eigentlich nicht fotografieren, denn es kommt mit ganz wenig Platz aus. Mein Garten ist übervoll mit Blühpflanzen (Pfingsrosen, Iris, Dahline usw.), Obst (Äpfel, Himbeeren, Quitte usw.) und ein wenig Gemüse. Es gibt glaube ich keine Perspekitve, aus der ich diesen Spalier fotografieren kann. Aber vielleicht geht es ja jetzt im Winter, wenn der Obstbaumschnitt dran ist. Dann melde ich mich nochmal...... Nun aber eine gute Nacht von Luzia.

  14. Dear Barbara, I love this post! This is the first clear explanation of a potager that I have read. The result of your planning and hard work is fabulous! Now I want one! Wishing you a healthy and happy new gardening year! P x

  15. What a wonderful way to see the progress you have made over the year by recording it photographically.

  16. I was reading about potager gardens today and found your blog in Germany. I will enjoy reading this blog at times. Looks pretty nice. Roberta Midwest Illinois