Potager gardens originated in 16th Century France arising from kitchen gardens of monasteries, growing vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs together in symmetrical geometrical garden beds planted in groups rather then rows. Plants are chosen for both their good looks and colour, plus their productive and edible qualities.
The layout can be complicated or simple, from formal knot gardens to simple raised beds. In practical terms, I think simple are best, especially for smaller areas. This is a working area of the garden and in design terms, practical concerns are important. With raised beds, whether they are made from stone, metal or wood, think carefully about the right height for you and your back. How about a couple of smaller beds for the younger members of the family? How big? The maximum width I design is between 1 metre to 1.4 metres, otherwise you will be climbing into the beds to weed and plant.
Width of pathways between the beds? Make sure you give yourself plenty of elbow room to easily move around, if you are bringing the wheelbarrow into the area – check the width to make sure it fits with some room to spare and you can manoeuvre it around any corners. Pathway surfaces should be practical and easy to maintain and keep clear of weeds, so if you are using mulched bark or gravel, lay a weed surpassing membrane underneath. If your Potager is not near your garden tap or other source of water, you might want to lay a pipe underground with a tap in the area to make watering easier too. Don’t forget an area for a seat, so you can have a coffee and relax and enjoy the planting. A little planning really will lower the physical work needed and increase your enjoyment.
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