Who has the traditional 4 bed/central feature potager?

lavender_lass(4b)December 29, 2011

I'm wondering, who has the 'traditional' potager layout, with the four beds, around a central feature...such as a birdbath, sundial, pot with bay tree or rosemary, etc?

I see these all the time, when I look up potager, on the Internet...and sometimes they are fenced in, with perimeter beds along the fence. These are usually (but not always) perennials, with annuals in the four beds.

While this is by no means, the only way to design a potager, I just wondered if anyone followed this more traditional layout? Thanks in advance...and please share some pictures :)

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tuliper(7B RVA)

I have plotted a potager in a right angle nook on the Southwestern exposure side of my parents cottage. Leaving only two "sides" remaining there's a tall conical Parisian looking boxwood. Then a red rocket crape myrtle on the open "corner" defining the bed about 8 or more feet off the house. The the long swath may e 14 ft planted with a low green velvet hedge, the row directly behind it the border is half lavender and chives, with Gladiator alliums peppered behind the chives portion. The entire back is planted with Heirloom Rubrum lillies, leaving the mid-ground for seasonal vegetables to be allowed to intermingle. Along the house short 8ft side are Grahmn Thomas climbing up an English lattice. Use your space to the fullest, if your planting quadrants make sure you have he space. I'd rather have more herbs/veggies for my soup, or, potage- than 40-45% of the space taken up by hedging. Also my one long strip of hedge is painless to trim 4 times year, but you'd be hard pressed to get me to maintain any more :) I do live boxs though. How much space you got?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 11:28PM
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wyndyacre(z6B SW Ont.)

I created a raised bed potager three years ago in front of my greenhouse. I have some permenant plantings of strawberries and rubarb in it and also two trellises with clematis on them,some spring bulbs and two peony trees. I started about 60 boxwoods from cuttings and created some very low hedges that line the front and the inside edges of the four raised beds. I am also clipping some single boxwoods and euonymous into balls in the corners.
There is a paved walkway between all four raised beds, but with no central feature. I use the walkway to access my greenhouse and work area.

It has taken about 3 seasons, with many small prunings to get the boxwoods to the point they are now...a short hedge that is filling in nicely and is not difficult to work over or around.

This photo was taken yesterday. We have had a very mild winter so far, in south western Ontario. Many plants are still green and growing.
The potager is recovering somewhat from having a very large 80 year old spruce fall on it this summer, after a tornado went by my rural property. The coldframe required some repairs, a trellis required straightening and the tree needed to be cut up and cleaned out but luckily, it missed the glass greenhouse!

This is the potager newly built with not much plant material in it yet.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Wow, Wyndy, that's gorgeous! What are the sides of your raised beds lined with? I was wondering if you used cedar boards or something else? And what did you use for the paving? It looks like concrete in the pics (which took my breath away) but I wondered if it was some kind of brick or tile? Did I mention I love the raised beds?


P.S. I'm fairly taken with the cold frame as well.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 3:16PM
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wyndyacre(z6B SW Ont.)

Thank you! The sides of the raised beds are pressure treated lumber that has been stained green. The walkway is constructed from 2'x2' concrete pavers.

Originally the space was just a large traditional vegetable garden. But I didn't need such a large space for veggies anymore and in the winter the shortest path to the greenhouse was thru the muddy bed on stepping stones.
The raised beds are tidier and warm up faster in the spring and the paved walkway is a much nicer access to the greenhouse and easy to shovel clean of snow in the winter.

I choose vegetable varities that are more compact in growth now, for my smaller space.

The coldframe was obtained for free from a local technical college while I was taking some horticulture courses there. It was disused and rotting away behind the greenhouses. I replaced some hardware, stained it and removed a dozen yellow jacket nests from inside it!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 9:56PM
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Hi Lavendar lass,

You've inspired some great responses!

Our potager has four rectangular beds, with a long walkway of gravel down between them the long way, and a wider gravel walkway across them. At one end of the wider walkway I have a bench for setting plants, whatever. I also can put potted tomatoes, and wheel around my garden wagon there.

I wanted a central feature but that space is used so much I couldn't put one there. So, I added a bed at one end of the wide path, opposite the bench, just outside but connected to the two beds on that side. And in that, in the center, I have my bunny sundial!

As for edging - down one side of the potager is a white picket fence with mandarin honeysuckle and cranberry vibernum. The opposite side has two dwarf apple trees and in the summer, bean and cucumber trellises, but I am deciding what else should serve as a "wall" there, maybe boxwoods, for a more permanent edge.

At the very end of the garden I put in a curved path last year that continues the long path across and out of the garden, with a pole bean bed on trellises behind the path, to make an "end" to the garden.

Good luck with your plans for this year...and thanks for the great question!

- MacGregor

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 11:35AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

My attached pictures are old, but they do show that I chose a traditional 4 square design too. Mine has four rectangular beds on either side of a single central bed. As time has gone by, I have added boxwood "fences" and the arbor/bench. I am resolved to take new pictures next summer. With each passing year, I am improving the soil and honing my skills, the box are growing and the roses filling out. It is more of a pleasure all the time.

Here is a link that might be useful: My potager

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 8:07PM
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What a very pretty layout, and your bed construction looks really neat. Roses and boxwood...it must indeed be very rewarding to see them filling out. Gardening is so rewarding that way!
It will be fun to see your "later" pictures too. I have pictures that I have not been able to get on here yet but I am determined to do so.
Thanks for sharing -

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Tuliper and MacGregor- Do you have any pictures? I'd love to see them...especially that bunny sundial :)

Wyndyacre- Such a beautiful garden! Not only is the garden wonderful, but the cold frames, paths, greenhouse...so many nice features! Raised beds are so good for colder climates...I should really try that, too. It's wet and cold here, until late April.

Donnabaskets- Oh, I wish we could grow roses in the kitchen garden, but the deer like to chew on them, too much. Yours are so pretty...and I like your new bench.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 2:13PM
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I've been playing around with adding a small potager, in the kitchen garden...but it's so windy and cold, I'm thinking herbs might be a better choice. So, an herb circle and maybe some red raspberries on one edge/perimeter, instead of the veggies.

I've been playing around with this plan, I found online...it's for a 32 foot garden (each way) and mine is closer to 20 feet each way...but I think it could still work, just scaled down a bit. This is the one garden I can easily fence, so I'm debating about adding roses to the corners and a few around the bench. Still lots of room for vegetables, but how can I resist roses, if it's the one spot the deer (hopefully) can't get into? :) From Lavender's Garden

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 6:42PM
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mrtoad(7b NC)

miss lavender lass

below is my potager, if i remember correctly, the size is about 20x40, this is counting the two elongated beds at each end, hopes this helps

interesting looking at this photo and thinking of all the changes i have made, this photo is eight years old, the question is, "have the changes helped?"

Maybe A Good Discussion or Thread For The Forum, CHANGES WE HAVE MADE, HE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

mr toad

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:28AM
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mrtoad(7b NC)

wyndyacre, very nice work

adding the mini greenhouse is a very clever idea and you worked it into the design so well

mr toad

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:52AM
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Mr. Toad...that is an excellent suggestion. If you don't start a new thread this weekend, I will :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:23PM
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mrtoad(7b NC)

ladies first

mr toad

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 4:54PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Mr. Toad, that is one pristine garden! I think I would be afraid to bring dirt/compost into it as I might mess it up!
It is really beautiful and well thought out!
Did you build the corner towers?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:50PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Where is MrToad? and did he build the corner towers?

If this fit in my space, I would just copy him outright!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:51PM
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