Mixing Annuals and Perennials

mountainsong(z5 CNY)July 3, 2006

I'm going to re-post this, as I meant to start a new thread, but instead did a follow-up to GGG's link info. Sorry for any confusion.

Since this is the first year for my new potager at my new (old) house, I'm imagining I'll probably want to change some elements of the design. I thought of adding butterfly flowers to my garden, but they're perennials, and thus far, all my edibles are annuals.

How do y'all work this out in your gardens? Separate sections, or what?

Just curious. Thanks,

Mountainsong in the Heart of NY

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diggity_ma(5 MA)

Perennials do of course pose some dilemmas in the potager because they are permanent... but let's rewind that statement... are they indeed permanent? Most, if not all perennials can be moved during dormant periods (and sometimes even during the growing season if you're careful enough). So if you don't like the placement of a particular plant, move it when you have the opportunity. I know that answer sounds facile, but I think it's pretty hard to draw generalities about perennial placement that would work in all potagers. Perennials, roses, climbing vines, shrubs, all contribute so much, and can take the garden to the next level - it would be a shame to limit yourself to annuals just because they are easier to plan around. And besides - some food crops are perennials too, including certain herbs, strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, grapes, other fruits, etc. etc. So it's worth experimenting a little. The great potagers of France (not to mention great kitchen gardens all over the world) didn't spring up overnight. They were the result of years, decades, even centuries of experimentation.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 12:47PM
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Mountainsong- Maybe you could use your perennials as sort of the bones and outlines of areas where you would then fill in with annual edibles? Some parterres and knot gardens use boxwood or lavendar hedges to outline an area, but it could easily be done with all types of perennials - flowering or not and particularly some of the woody herbs like Rosemary if you wanted to keep it all edible.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 11:51PM
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I ended up putting all my perennials in one bed in my potager garden. I like to spade up my veggie area and add
compost etc.. before I plant, and was afraid I'd kill my
perennials, not knowing where they were!

I add a few annuals in with the veggies once they are coming up, for color and marigolds for pest control.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 2:39AM
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mountainsong(z5 CNY)

Haziemoon, I'm only in the first phase of a rather ambitious design. I imagine it will be at least 3 more years before I've even got the basic outline done. But yes, I had envisioned making one section of my potager mainly perennials, as it's mostly in the shade. nberg, I think I've figured out that I can plant the inner circle of my garden (hard to explain without a diagram) with some favorite perennials. Diggity, I'm very humble right now about myself as a perennial gardener. It seems the more I learn, the more I discover I need to learn! And I think part of my challenge is that we moved 4 times in 3 years, something neither DH or I ever thought we'd have to do! So hopefully, we're going to manage to stay here for a good long while, and I can patiently work with a garden as it (and I!) develop. I sure do have a lot more to learn about the basics of gardening with perennials, though.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 11:09PM
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mountainsong(z5 CNY)

I'm still in love with my "discovery" for this year: the annual, angelonia. These are planted around the inner, "tea circle" of my emerging garden-in-the-round. Although the ones I purchased are hybrids, I found some seeds online that are not--don't know what the term for opposite of hybrid would be, but plants from which I can save seed. Anyhow, the angelonia just keep coming, and are showing themselves to be nice. long-lasting cut flowers. After I cut them, the plants still in the ground are filling out so nicely. So I have these angelonia in tiny purple blossoms and white, and finally, along come my calendula, winter-sown, but then they had to wait forever until I got them transplanted! So I'm thinking they'll come back next year... And I'm hoping to get an arch with a climbing rose at the end of one of the four directions next summer. So as we've all agreed, the perennials and annuals will evolve and mix; it's just much more fun to watch it happen than to write about it!


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 2:21AM
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