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The cottage-potage garden. I imagine the historic predecessor of what I call the cottage-potage garden might have looked a bit like this garden, with edibles such as kale (in the foreground), herbs and squash (adjacent to the house) planted here and there alongside scented flowers and ornamentals.
My own blended garden. My own garden has seen a lot of change over the 20-plus years I've been tending it. I began raising produce in large, colorful containers set among flowering perennials in the curb strip and along the driveway about eight years ago. The large pots provide plenty of no-bend, clean-shoe gardening (my favorite kind). The pots are placed where there's great sun exposure and air circulation, providing structure, color and interest to the garden. They look great at the height of the growing season and in the off-season as well.
I come home at the end of the day and spend about five minutes between the curb and my front door. By the time I cross the threshold with a handful of fresh fare, I've figured out what's for dinner and decompressed from the stresses of the day.
Tip: To hold down costs, I selected pots from the heavily discounted "seconds, chips and dings" section at large pottery supply stores.
The modern edible. The blended garden readily adapts to any garden style. Fruit trees are seamlessly incorporated into this modern outdoor sitting area, elevating the space from merely beautiful to bountiful as well.
Double-duty design. A vine-laden arbor provides shade for an outdoor dining room and heaps of fresh table grapes. These vigorous vines aren't too fussy about soil, can withstand periods of drought once established and, other than annual pruning and a little tying up, require little maintenance. Consider planting several varieties of grape on a large arbor for a cornucopia of fresh fruit.
Vines are not the only fruit that can be trained to grow overhead. Although slower than vines, lemon, lime, fig, apple and pear — to name just a few — are great choices to cover an arbor or a pergola.
Tip: Use a deciduous vine such as grape or kiwifruit where you want to have shade in the summer and sun in the winter.
Variety is the spice of life. Look for interesting color and form in the wide variety of veggies, herbs and fruits available. A wealth of beautiful forms and colors exist to add interest to perennial beds and containers.
Or try a twist on the veggie garden that you'll be thrilled to feature front and center. In this photo, colorful row crops are laid out on a jaunty angle, adding play and movement to the composition.
Exploit the ornamental qualities of food-bearing plants. Artichokes, for instance, are strikingly beautiful incorporated into a planting scheme. They provide color, texture and structural interest — as well as a delicious feast. Eat them when they're young and tasty for the freshest 'choke you've ever had, and leave a few to develop into huge, dramatic purple-blue blooms to cut and bring indoors.
Still prefer a traditional veggie patch? No problem — keep the veggies together but give some thought to the layout and construction of beds. Break out of the standard 4 feet by 8 feet raised wood beds lined up along the back property line.
Give your beds style and an attractive layout that looks great year-round. Include a space for lounging, dining or entertaining. Low stone walls add structure, enclosure, visual interest and additional seating in this combined veggie garden and dining patio.
Veggies plus play. Raised Cor-Ten beds are superstylish and play well with the steel-edged boccie court. Look for opportunities to integrate your veggie patch with other outdoor spaces to get the most use, value and joy from your garden.
Strong structure for strong interest. This parterre-inspired veggie garden, with its strong architectural lines, is attractive year-round. Add the playful sprinkler — which looks like an armillary sphere when not in operation — and you have a vegetable garden that's fetching enough for center stage.
Make raised beds a focal point. Rather than hide the veg patch from view, these homeowners chose to cultivate their produce in beautiful raised stone beds, which also serve as a focal point at the end of their backyard. The stone walls provide extra seating for large gatherings and bring crops within easy reach without the need for bending or stooping.
Experiments Aplenty Fill Vancouver Edible Garden