Monday, 11 March 2013

WHAT IS A POTAGER?




A potager is a French term for an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden. The French named their kitchen gardens 'Jardin Potager'. The historical design precedent originated from the Gardens of the French Renaissance and Baroque eras.  Today this term is used to describe a decorative garden where fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown in a plot in a ornamental fashion. 


The Potager is more than a vegetable plot.  It is a formal, decorative kitchen garden that places vegetables at the top of the bill, whether they are suitable as crops or just for orientation. The beauty in the garden is the celebration of the vegetables, herbs and fruit on their own merit.


The potager is a usually set away from the formal lawns and ornamental plants.  The arrangement of the crops is just as important as the production of food. These herbs and vegetables are often interpolated with flowering plants and shrubs, but the main features are the vegetables. Non-food plants play a supporting role in the potager but never take centre stage. The kitchen garden has year-round visual appeal and can incorporate permanent perennials or woody shrub plantings among the annuals.

Potagers are formal in design, often conforming to geometric patterns and beds are typically enclosed by dwarf hedging.  Often the paths are gravel or stone.  Arches often run across paths and are covered with runner beans, grapes and roses.

Plants are grown in groups for maximum effect.  Ornamental vegetables are grown as specimens amongst the beds.  Vegetables are set out in beds to contrast with each other with regards to form, texture and colour.  Swiss chard, with its white veins and stalks, or red varieties of celery and brussel sprouts make unusual plating combinations. The ferny leaves of the carrot, the red stalks of beetroot and yellow marjoram all contrast well.  This is an opportunity to showcase vegetables in a formal garden style to dazzling effect.

For related articles click onto:
Differences between vegetables and fruit
Feeding plants
Green manure: Broad beans
Preparing a seed bed
Potagers
Soil structure
What is a potager?
What is a vegetable?
What is the difference between a vegetable and a fruit?
Vegetable crop rotation

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