What flowers do you grow in your potager?

nycynthias(Z6 NY)February 19, 2010

As I have mentioned ad infinitum already, I'm in the planning/building stage of our potager. I have some various veg seeds started indoors, and have much of the material for the raised beds purchased and just waiting for us to have time to put them together...and, of course, for the snow to melt.

My bed layout is complete, including placement of the beds themselves and the individual plantings inside the beds. Now, what to do outside of the raised beds?

I'm looking for some ideas on what types of ornamentals and flowers to include in the border areas of my potager; these will be in-ground plantings and I'm open to either annuals or perennials. The main area in question is is an eastern exposture, bordered by an east-facing house wall and a south-facing picket fence. The foundation plantings are 1 Japanese holly which I have left unpruned, and about 8 or 9 assorted hydrangeas. I'd like to add a few Compacta Inkberry bushes as well since there's an air conditioning condenser to disguise.

Aside from the very obvious sunflowers (which I think would struggle there for lack of direct sun all day) and marigolds, which I have made space for in the raised beds as companions/pest deterrents, what are the flowers you most like in your potager? Pictures are especially welcome! :)

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I use mostly annuals in the potager, so I have calendula, nasturtiums, zinnias, marigolds, lots of alyssum and I especially like stock and evening stock. Also love star jasmine and white pentuias together in big pots...very pretty and a wonderful fragrance!

For perennials, I like roses, lavender, peonies, columbine, pansies, violets, bee balm (red with the purple centers), speedwell and forget-me-knots.

Favorite flower combination is roses with lavender...I may even end up putting a snow pavement rose with lavender, in the three corners of my potager. (It's not triangular, but one corner is an entrance.)

Off topic, but don't forget a seating area. That's the one thing I'm trying to include in each of my garden areas, a shady place to sit and enjoy the garden...and recover from all my hard work :)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 10:59PM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Thanks for the input, lavender_lass! I have reserved a spot for a seating area, though I doubt it will get installed this year.
I assume you treat your lavenders as annuals in your zone, or do you overwinter them indoors? I ask because here in Z6 (with heavy rich native clay soil) I have done nothing but torture the lavenders I planted in the ground. I finally gave up and switched to catmint to pair with my roses for a somewhat similar look if you squint. I may try lavender in a pot or two in my potager, though, because the scent is incomparable!
So far my flower list is all technically edible except the zinnias: chamomile, bee balm (one of my faves!), catmint (of course), nasturtiums, marigolds, and some sunflowers somewhere just because.
I don't think I'm putting roses directly into the potager because of space and light constraints, but also the picket fence that borders it is going to have something like 32' of roses on the other side. The fence is only 5' tall, so there will be a bit of rose peeking above, and of course the fragrance and pollination benefits will be there.
I know I keep saying "it will be like this", figured I should explain. We've only been in this house for 4 years; the first two years were spent on interior renovations, and the past two years here were taken up with the business of making twin toddlers, LOL, so there's still a LOT left to do!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 8:51AM
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Your garden sounds like it will be beautiful...roses along a picket fence...perfect potager style :)

I use Hidcote lavender and so far, it's been great. I water it too much, have it in clay soil and didn't winter protect it, but it blooms like crazy. We haven't had as cold a winter as normal (lowest temp. was 9 F.) but it looks happy so far. French lavender wouldn't stand a chance here (LOL)

I have sunflowers too and they're beautiful, mostly the 3' types so the kids can see the flowers. I found out last year the bumblebees and the yellow jackets love them, so I don't plant them too close to the paths. I think I may have them on the outside of the fence this year!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 11:50AM
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Here's a pic of some of the flowers I like to grow. They're a bit wild in this pic. Amber, our lab, has lost her tennis ball somewhere in there. I like catmint, russian sage, day lilies, yarrow, bee balm, dill, fennel, speedwell, lavender,anise hyssop, rue, dwarf sunflowers, zinnia, marigold, chamomile, chives, purple coneflower, green coneflower, black-eyed susan. My lavender did not like how crowded and moist things were. So, its moving to a dry slope in the yard this yr. For lower light, day lily, catmint, speedwell and hyssop should work.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 12:22PM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

ali-b, what a beautiful garden! Amber is beautiful too :) I have two goldens who love to "help" in the garden, especially with reseeding my tomatoes generously across acres of land. LOL! I notice you're in Z6 as well--whereabouts? I'm in Westchester County NY.

lavender_lass, that's really interesting and encouraging that Hidcote has been successful for you. I'm going to have to suck it up and try it one more time because I just can't resist. Maybe I'll plant it in Mel's Mix this time, since it's such a fast-draining medium. Lavenders like acid, right? Maybe I can stick them near my blueberries. I found a cute dwarf sunflower, by the way, that grows to about 2' tall with 10" seedheads. Perfect height for little ones to see the flowers. It's called Sunspot. Give it a try if you have room for a few more sunflowers!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 1:18PM
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Thanks, nycynthias. Hopefully, everything in the garden will pull through with all this snow we've had. I'm in Bethlehem, PA. BTW, your potager plan sounds awesome. I would love to see progress pictures. And all those roses. I have way too many deer for roses. So, far they've left my garden be even though I only have a 3' fence. Anything that peeks over the top is fair game for a trimming.

A new fence is on the to-do list. What kind of fence are you putting up?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 6:37PM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Oh believe me, we have herds (hordes?) of deer here too, but for some reason they actually are pretty good about leaving my roses alone ever since I started planting at least 3 catmints for every rose. Hydrangea, on the other hand, are a delicacy, and I can forget about ever having a fresh tulip no matter what.

Our fencing is already up, actually--we put it up last fall as the ending to a huge landscaping (really hardscaping; patios, paths, pool) project. It's a 5' vinyl picket as seen from the front of the property, but the rest of the back yard is enclosed in black chain link , only 6' by town code. Thankfully, the chain link is barely visible even in winter because the borders of our property are heavily wooded. In the 15 or so months it's been up, we have only had one deer in the back yard, and that's when a tree fell on the chain link and a buck saw an opportunity for some good hydrangea-munching. My dogs did chase him off, and weren't hurt, thank God.

With regard to the potager, it's not really practical to completely enclose it with a fence because of the way the site relates to the entertaining areas of the yard such as patios, pool, etc., so I'm going to screen the chain link with a combination of blueberries and an evergreen or two--that's up on a ridge above the potager site, up about a 5 foot vertical rise and the fence is behind an old stone wall. If I do it right it will hopefully give the feeling of a "walled" garden in that section. The third side is the house, so there will be some foundation plantings, hydrangea, zinnias, chrysanthemums, edible flowers, and room for a few climbing edibles like zucchini and summer squash--which I'm also planning to tie up on the inside of the fence. Then the fourth side, which is visually open to the patios, etc., will be defined by the back of my trellising on the 3 northern-most beds, as well as a sharp line of edging holding the gravel in place.
Hmm, this is really hard to visualize, but any photo I take of the area right now is useless since it's all snow!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 7:28AM
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celticgarden(z6b CT)

Don't plant lavender in very acidic soil. Lavender notes:

"The best soil for growing lavender is gritty or sandy loam with a pH factor between 6.0 and 8.0. In France, lavender grows naturally in well drained limestone and stony ground. However, light, well drained soils are generally quite suitable for lavender growing.
For heavier or more clay-based soils try growing lavender in mounds or raised beds and incorporate crushed granite like chicken grit into the top 12" of the soil.

Add plenty of organic matter to promote soil aeration. Lime will also need to be added to increase the pH level of clay soils and make them more friable (crumbly). Lavender will tolerate "wet feet" after a heavy rain for a short time providing the ground is free-draining, ultimately leading to fast water removal."

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 10:35AM
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nycynthias(Z6 NY)

Yep, that's the same info I have read before, celticgarden. Definitely going to try Hidcote this year in pots, and maybe even try to overwinter them indoors .

I'm still working on incorporating more flowers into my potager plans--so far I've given up a few precious veggie square feet to Roman Chamomile (said to be a great pest deterrent, we'll see!), plenty of marigolds of course, and some nasturtiums. I think the rest of the space in my raised beds will be used for true edibles though, from herbs to veg, asparagus (own bed) and strawberries (own bed). The rest of my flowers are going to end up going directly in-ground in several places, with a few in pots for some height and added interest.
I kind of feel like I need more color, but then again I am planting a bunch of interestingly colored edibles...purple queen bush beans, a few different peppers, 4 types of heirloom tomatoes of different colors, both red and green cabbages in a checkerboard, several colored mesclun green mixes including an all-red one I'm really excited about (Valentine), and of course the lovely textures and colors of an all-herb bed.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 7:31PM
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Your potager sounds great. I will have to try the roses and catmint trick. Catmint must smell really bad to deer because they won't even sample it. Although they did step on it to get to the Joe Pye Weed. (Apparently, my deer have not read about the list of plants that are "deer-resistant") I hear you on the hydrangeas. We too had a tree limb fall on the pool fence. My poor hydrangeas got an unexpected crew cut.

I love the mix of flowers and veggies. That way, there's always something blooming. I reserved a 3' bed right at the front of the potager for my perennial medicinals (yarrow, catmint, lavendar, bee balm, st.john's wort, etc) I probably won't ever use them as a medicinal but that all make pretty blooms.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 10:57AM
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You can always try something like this. We can manufacture every product on demand :) try our website www.rattanart.co.uk for cool stuff only for you ^^

Here is a link that might be useful: RattanArt

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:33AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Ah, mannnnnnn SPAM on the potager board!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:39PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Anyway, about flowers in the garden....I would NOT have morning glories or nastursium IN the garden! I'm always fighting both even though they weren't planted there!
They are both so invasive here! Nancy

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:42PM
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LeahB(z3 ND)

Several years ago I read an article about a woman's study of growing various lavenders as part of a dissertation - I think she was working in WA in partnership with the extension service there. Anyway, her research demonstrated that lavender is a very hardy plant in northern zones. The main thing that "we" do in the north to kill it is that we tend to overwater it and/or cut its stems in the fall to bring inside for potpourri. Cutting it late in the season results in it going back to work to replace the lost growth just as winter sets in, and it dies because it should have been left alone to prepare itself for winter dormancy. Anyway, I have a lavender plant that's become a good sized shrub over the past several years. It is in a rose garden along the curve of my driveway. It only gets watered by the summer rains. I live in ND but I love winter because it gives me a chance to catch up on my garden reading so that I can pick up great information like this!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2014 at 8:53PM
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lorabell NC(8)

I grew up in zone3A ND myself and am still amazed at what my mom and g-dad where able to successfully grow! What awesome gardening can be done there. Always seems to be a variety that stretches the boundaries, I've been able to grow rhubarb and have a lilac bush down here,..and they said it couldn't be done! Enjoy your downtime, I'm spending the day doing needed yard work, would much rather be reading!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2015 at 8:24AM
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lorabell NC(8)

Double post...now how did I manage that! Sorry

This post was edited by Lorabell on Thu, Jan 1, 15 at 10:06

    Bookmark   January 1, 2015 at 8:25AM
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