Thursday, June 24, 2010

Potager Gardens

Potager Garden Definition: (pronunciation: puh ta zhay) a garden that combines both edible and ornamental plants; a vegetable garden that is utilitarian in nature but designed with beauty in mind; much like an English kitchen garden, but often formal and symmetrically designed in the French fashion. 

I love the idea of a potager garden. I don't know that I would want one to be so formal, but beautifully designed? Most certainly! I prefer to mix formal and informal elements together. Something perhaps... like this:

Photo Credit: Lisa Hubbard

While there is structure to this garden, it definitely has rustic elements, such as the fence and edging material. Also, the plants are neatly contained, but not in such a structured way that you feel you must be in your best dress to walk through it! And see the flowers casually mixed in?

Most of you are already vegetable gardeners, but have you considered adding marigolds alongside the tomatoes, zinnias next to the cucumbers, or sunflowers behind the green beans? How about roses along the outside of the fence?

While you may feel that your garden space is limited or producing enough vegetables for your family and a few neighbors is a priority, don't overlook the value that flowers alongside your veggies can add to your life...

• Some flowers are edible and can grace both your garden and your dishes. Pansies, nasturtiums, and lavender are all great to include in a potager garden. Here's a list of more edible flowers.

• Flowers can be visually soothing to the soul and soothing to the body as well since many are medicinal in nature. For a list of 15 medicinal flowers, read here.

• Flowers with high nectar concentrations can help attract bees to vegetables that are in need of pollination. They can also encourage beneficial insects to stick around your veggies while other flowers repel the bad bugs

• There are several combinations of flowers and vegetables that actually help each other. Who wouldn't want to give their vegetables a beautiful boost?

• A potager garden can be a colorful source of cut flowers from spring through fall, and in some areas, even winter. Flower cuttings in vases bring an element of the outdoors inside, but they also provide something for you to take to friends when visiting. What a blessing to be able to arrive at a friends house with a small bouquet of daisies or an armful of lilac branches!

Photo Credit: left-hand

Ideas For Adding Flowers To Your Vegetable Garden

• Consider adding a fence to define your garden space. It will not only deter animals (to a degree), but it will give you a backdrop to add plants. On the outside, add larger flower options such as roses, peonies, lilacs, and climbing vines. On the inside, grow tall flowers along the fence, such as sunflowers, and smaller vegetables in front of them.

• Use smaller flowering plants as borders and edges around your beds. Marigolds, pansies, and chives.

• Don't forget to add flowering herbs! Mixing these in around the garden can add fragrance, texture, and flavor to your vegetable dishes.

• You may wish to add a central bed to the garden, specifically for visual interest with flowers being part of the focus. An obelisk with a climbing vine surrounded by an array of flowers would make any gardener want to visit the veggies often!

• Consider mixing neat and formal plants with the casual and informal; for example, a row of flowers that are shaped in a compact mound alongside a lacy and slightly wild veggie, such as beans.

• Try growing a climbing vegetable alongside a climbing flowering vine. Let the two intermingle to create a beautifully unique look.

Photo Credit: Ilja

* If you've planted extra vegetables of a certain variety, allow some of them go to seed and flower out to enjoy their own unique beauty.

• If you really prefer things neat and tidy, you can always plant beds of flowers and vegetables separately, but next to each other, alternating between the two.

Photo Credit: UGArdener

A lovely garden doesn't happen over night. It often takes years of dreaming, planning, and hard work. By adding the element of flowers you can make the process a joy!

How have you incorporated flowers into your vegetable garden and what tips can you share?


  1. Yesterday I voted that my garden is strictly vegetables, but I forgot about the sunflowers. We planted sunflowers as trellises for the snap peas and pole beans.

  2. Hi Amy,
    I love this post. I dream of having a garden like this some day. We are in a rental right now so my garden is just functional, but I my dream is to set my garden up to be very productive and beautiful to look at.
    Thank you for sharing.


  3. Okay. The garden in the last photograph is amazing. I probably function too much on the practical side of things and keep vegetables in my garden and flowers in my flower beds. Mixing it up does look lovely. Maybe next year....

  4. LOL - Who knew there was an official term for it? I always thought I was being sneaky:-)

    My veggie gardens are in the back yard, and I have always added some *companion plantings* of flowers. I like the way it looks, and they say it is beneficial.

    In the front I have pretty nicely landscaped beds, thanks to my son who owned a landscaping business for several years. On several occasions he was hired to come in and remove perfectly nice landscaped beds because the owners wanted a different look. He always carefully removed them then came home and fixed up our house with them. It is free-form like I wanted, and so there are always places to tuck in a few extra things. My favorites to tuck in are herbs, which look just as lovely as any of the rest of the plants - well, except when I harvest them a little too heavily! I always plant pansies in winter, in honor of our daughter Pansi; they are yummy in salads. And generally in the late spring one or another of the boys will come home with a flat of summer flowers for mom; those are not always edible but they make the herbs look even nicer I think.

  5. Oh my...
    Today is my lucky day.
    I found your blog via Tales From the Coop Keeper.
    I have a large backyard, and I currently have two raised beds.
    As a newly retired high school teacher, gardening is my new love- now that I have more time.
    I have a bed of tomatoes and a bed of zinnias as a cutting bed.

    Do you think I could do something like the Lisa Hubbard photo?


    Thank you for the inspiration!
    I am now a follower.

    White Spray Paint

  6. I love adding flowers to the garden. Nasturtiums are the easiest I've grown so far. Marigolds are good, too...but a little slow growing it seems? I planted some sunflowers but the seeds rotted from too much rain...we'll try again nexxt year. I love climbing roses along garden fences...always so pretty. That first photo by Lisa Hubbard is one of my favorite gardens as of late. SO cool...

    Thanks for this valuable info...

  7. Marigolds around the tomatoes are helpful especially if there is a problem with nematodes. Nasturtiums keep borers away from fruit trees and grow very easily just like marigolds.

    Other companion gardening is interesting and makes every bit of garden useful.

    "Carrots Love Tomatoes" is an excellent resource for companion gardening.

  8. *sigh*
    such loveliness! you've brought a smile to my face and a bit of hope to my day. we are in the middle of a seemingly endless move and my garden is what I miss the most.

  9. Welcome, Laura! Glad to have you joining us!

    Maybelline, thanks for the tip on the book. I just ordered it from my library so I can check it out.

  10. Lovely garden ideas, Amy. I always have flowers mixed in with my vegetables -- because I'm too sentimental to pinch out the volunteer seedlings. But it makes all the hours in the garden even more beautiful.

  11. I have marigolds and sunflowers in my garden, of course! I would like to add nasturtiums this summer as well.
    Directly outside, lining the borders, I have lupin, penstemon, snapdragons, and hollyhocks.

  12. I got tickled at my husband a couple years ago when I suggested I needed a couple rows for cutting flowers in our vegetable garden~he gave me a puzzled gaze:) But in they went for me and my little girls who love cutting them for bouquets through the year--I always plant marigolds around my borders to keep the pests away as well as the sunflowers!
    Like your double planting ideas~I tried sweet peas along my grape arbor last year along with dill and that worked out very nicely.

  13. I agree with Maybelline, the companion gardening books by Louise Riotte are very helpful.

    Bethany W in mid-mo

  14. I have a mixture of vegi's, fruits, herbs and flowers in & around my garden. There are marigolds, milkweed (the bees & butterflies love it), echinacea & calendula inside the garden, and kiwi, passionfruit & grapes on the fence. I've started planting a border along the outside of the fence. So far, there's celosia, sedum, black-eyed susan vine & zinnias. It seems all the flowers help with the pollination of the fruits & vegi's.

  15. What a great beekeepers we try to make sure we have lots of flowers for our girls. Borage is about their favorite, we also have sunflowers, grow buckwheat which gets tiny white flowers, nasturtiums, and of course cosmos because our kids love them!

    If you readers are interested in borage (and edible herb) that gets stunning blue flowers here is a post on it.

    I just found your blog...perfectly lovely! Kim

  16. I too am so glad I found your blog. I'm not sure what it means to homestead, but it seems close to what I've been doing for the past 10 years. Living on 8 1/2 acres, growing fruit trees, planting gardens and raising chickens. I must say though, you seem to do it with a lot of style! I love your pictures and you've given me some ideas to try. I'll be checking back here in the future.

  17. My husband loves flowers and I love growing vegetables so when I saw the garden by Lisa Hubbard I had to have it. We live on 16 acres in Nova Scotia and have lots of trees for fencing. I came across your blog and was very inspired to try raising some chickens to help take care of all the ticks and other bugs. I look forward to here how your garden progresses.

  18. We have just moved to 107 acres in Nova Scotia. This year will be my first garden (and first chickens). Hubby doesn't see the value of flowers in the veggie beds yet, but I love the look of the French Kitchen garden, they are so beautiful. As I am going to be the one doing most of the gardening...I win!

  19. Sharon, 107 acres in Nova Scotia sounds beautiful! Be sure your husband knows that certain flowers repel insects. Perhaps that will impress him!

  20. We grew a whole bed of Zinnias last garden season. Not only did we have flower arrangements in our house all summer, we took flowers to older friends and family and some people in a nursing homes. Quite a bang for the buck from three packs of seed. We are planning more this coming season.


  21. Wow..That's really amazing..I like it so much..It really helps a lot..Such a great information..Tnx for the post..Keep up the good work..:) I found this site, you will learn a lot here..

  22. Love these example...especially the first picture since I just adore the look of split rail fences...We combined many of our veggies and herbs into our flower gardens for a true English garden feel and will add flowers to the veggie garden when it is finally ready for planting.

    Blessings Kelsie

  23. I adore a beautiful Potager.... it doesn't get much prettier than beautiful vegetables alongside colorful flowers. Lovely post... Glad I found you...

  24. Quick question about the comment try planting a climbing flowering vine next to a climbing vegetable... what type of flowering vine is pictured right below that statement? It's beautiful and I'd love to take that advice! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your question. The photo is not mine (currently I try to use mostly my own), but I believe that is a scarlet bean runner. You can view plant profile info here:
      I've read mix accounts as to them being edible or poisonous so please do some thorough research before consuming!


Thank you for visiting Homestead Revival™! Please feel free to contribute to the conversation by leaving your comments. "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Eph. 4:29


Related Posts with Thumbnails