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Potager vs. Cottage

Posted by gurley157fs zone 7/8sc (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 4, 06 at 8:59

I am a little confused over the difference between Potager and Cottage.

Both seem to be an intermingling of edible and decorative plants.

Both traditionally surrounded by an enclosure.

Both intended to make the most of a small area.

The only difference I am seeing is that one may be of french origin and the other of english origin.

Can anyone explain the difference to me?

Would one have a cottage garden with a potager IN it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

  • Posted by memo NE-Zone 4B (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 4, 06 at 9:39

Gurley, That is exactly my take on it. A cottage garden WITH a pottager within. I'm not working with a small area by any means but I am trying to acheive the look of many things in my space. I love the hedge rows used in English gardens so I'm enclosing my "pottager" with hedges rather than pickets. I also love the look of picket fences dripping with climbing roses. DH says this is a ranch and the fencing should look like this is a ranch so my fence will be very rustic instead since he's building it....however little does he know...it WILL be dripping with roses! Another small difference that I can think of is that pottagers of modern times anyway..seem to have raised beds in them. True flowers, herbs and fruits are all grown together in them but the emphasis is on vegies. In a typical modern cottage garden the beds are just regualr beds and the emphasis is on flowers with vegies and fruits tucked into them. I want the best of all those worlds and all those looks so I'll just do what I can in my space to come as close to each look as I can. I'm not going to sweat the terminology at all. I hope no one else does either.

MeMo


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RE: Some things about raised beds

  • Posted by memo NE-Zone 4B (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 4, 06 at 9:55

Oh...I should probably make it clear here that I'm NOT using raised beds JUST to acheive the look of a potager. I'm going to use them because I firmly believe they have benefits for me in my climate. The soil warms faster in the spring. They are much simpler to apply shade covers to and to use as glass windowed hot houses. It takes far less amendments to maintain a rich fertile soil than in traditional gardening beds. Square foot spacing (intensive planting) can be utilized hopefully giving more crops in less space, Weeding becomes much less of a chore as the paths are usually covered in something eliminating the need to weed the paths as well as the rows in a traditional vegie plot. They are more easily adapted to drip irrigation which matters a lot in drought country. There are probably some others that I'm forgetting at the moment.

MeMo


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Potager is French, basically a kitchen garden, and traditionally was fairly structured in layout, often with potted plants and ornamental structures as well as herbsflowers. It was separate from purely ornamental gardens, and close to the kitchen (potage itself meant soup). The potager had no association with poverty, as large estates kept them for the household. There might be a large production garden elsewhere on the property.

Cottage garden is English in origin, and also originally focused on edibles, though I think the English always included flowers. The "cottages" were just that: small houses occupied by people of very modest means, perhaps originally serfs who were allowed to grow for personal use or even market on the small plots allocated to them. Space was at a premium, so things were crammed together to get the most out of the growing space available-- also why cottage gardens include so many trellises, arbors, etc.

Clearly the meaning of both has evolved over the years, particularly in the last century, as fewer people in western society depended on what they could produce to eat. Now we often think of the cottage garden as strictly ornamental, a style rather than a necessity; and of the potager as a charming way to grow vegetables in an ornamental setting.


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Thank you, this is making more sense to me now.

I like the name 'potager' I just am not sure what part of my yard I could apply it to.

I have garlic planted all over the front and back yard as well as sweet peas and this year I am putting either beans or tomatoes along side the house.

I am putting in a garden right out the back door that I guess I could call a potager just to be romantic. It currently has four new apple trees and a water feature. I am planning to add mostly herbs at first but as the garden matures ( it is a lasagna garden) I will add more 'food' stuff.


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

A quote by Shakespeare comes to mind, "a rose by any other name smells just as sweet", or something to that effect. Whether we call it a potager, a veggie garden, or a cottage garden makes no difference. We get the same pleasure from it, plant the some kinds of plants and can share experiences and ideas from either style.

I did see a website that stated the French potagers were traditionally planted in long rows which would be more like our country gardens. I always think of cottage gardens as a small lot with the "cottage" centered and completely planted with flowers, small fruit trees and vegetables and herbs.

I also like the term kitchen garden. Hey, I just like gardening!


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Me, too. And while I am going for the cottage garden in front (looks nice with my little Victorian house), my veggie garden in back is definitely potager in style, with distinct beds, though still kind of bare bones. This year I want to put a simple little water feature in the middle.

Dayle Ann


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Dayle Ann gave a very good definition of the Potager and here's a typical French Potager...(not mine):

Image hosting by Photobucket

and here's a beautiful Cottage garden...very English....(not mine):

Image hosting by Photobucket

Hope these two pictures help...

Anice


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Thank you Anicee. I vote you our resident expert on things French! I love the pictures and they are exactly what I had in my mind representing both, except more edibles in the English one.


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Beautiful pics, Anicee. That cottage takes my breath away!

Gurley, I will post a thread with an article on potager/kitchen gardens which I believe describes one very well. Hope it helps you.

Diana


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Anicee, your images seem to be missing now. I'd love to check them out -- can you restore them?


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

You can put vegetables in a cottage garden??? But that would mean you'd have to give up some room where there could be flowers.


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Gottagarden - they can be intermingled without giving up space for flowers.

Edna ;-)


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

And so many veggies are ornamental in their own right! Lettuce is a beautiful foil for bright flowers, peppers and eggplant are just plain stunning, the feathery foliage of carrots make a nice edging, chard is almost tropical in its effect and gorgeous grown with daylilies... I could go on and on.

And besides, I get to plant flowers in the veggie garden, so it all evens out...

Dayle Ann


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

I think the easiest way to put the difference is a Cottage Garden's focus is on ornamentals while a Potager's focus is on edibles. Both are visually appealing.

As someone has already said, the terms have both evolved and come to mean things very different than they originally did. I think those of us who garden in potagers have adopted the term to differentiate our vegetable gardens from the mainly functional plots one thinks of when you say "Vegetable Garden" ~ rows of plants lined up like soldiers with no or little whimsy or beauty-just-for-the-sake-of-pretty.


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

The confusion between the two gardening styles are more like practical vs esthetic, but borrowing on one another. The French and English had ties through the monarchies and borrowed from one anothers cultures and customs, including gardening and animal husbandry. Modern-day "organic gardening" and "intensive gardening" have their origins in old French gardening practices using companion planting of flowers and herbs with veggies and fruits, composting and keeping small barnyard animals, as well as many other simple and practical gardening-homesteading methods.

The Potager Garden was a designated plot; a special garden wherein was grown veggies & herbs for 'potage' (meaning, any plant you can eat), with flowers that were good companion plants for insect control or to improve the growth and production of the vegetables and herbs, and for attracting bees to pollinate. Many of the flowers were to be eaten, as well, i.e. Calendulas (Pot Marigolds), Nasturtiums, chives, chamomile, peas, and others, even roses. Orchards were often planted nearby for convenience as well as beauty and pollination, as both attract bees.

Potager Gardens could be quite formal (for the wealthy), or not (for the more humble classes). Paths could be paved and plots geometrically layed out and fenced with shrubberies or permanent structures (lovely, formal French manor-style gardens), or as in the provential kitchen "yardens" or small acreages, potage gardens more often had paths of dirt that merely wound casually through informal, asymmetrical plots of this and that. They were more often found right out the kitchen door of the humble French home for easy access and for safety and security. - I much prefer the Provincial Potage garden, myself. I like the free, casual, no-fuss garden that says, "home" to me.

Potager gardens were designed to be more practical, but not to ever be at the expense of 'esthetic appeal'. Even the practical could be beautiful. Beautiful and fragrant gardens promoted good mental health. It was a chance for some fresh air and sunshine out of dreary, dark, often ill-lit and sometimes dank house. If your mind was happy & well, your body often was too.

Cottage Gardens on the other hand, rambled around the home in a profusion of flowers, namely roses, foxgloves, delphiniums and the like that was available and would grow in that particular climate. Only the wealthy had greenhouses and grew rare and exotic plants - grand glass houses called conservatories, and formal garden estates with towering statuaries, fountains and evergreens.

Cottage Gardens were designed to utilize a limited space around the home, often the front yard. They were neither formal nor geometrical in design. They seldom utilized perfect symmetry in lay-outs. Dirt or gravel paths that would lead you from one garden area to another, often totally obscured from the view by hedgerows of privet, evergreen, ivy clad rock walls or fences with tall flowers, like hollyhocks, foxgloves, or rambling, climbing roses. Arches and trellising extended the gardens farther into the air, so more could be planted on less ground and they could completely block out their neighbors for more privacy.

Within a Cottage garden you could find a Potager garden, but they were very different in form and purpose.
It's like comparing a squash flower to a Brugmansia flower! Ya, they are both pretty flowers, but...uh.....

That's what I understand the basic components are that make up the two very different gardens. That's how I see it, anyhow!

~SweetAnnie4u


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

Here is a LINK to a wonderful website about the potager. It includes 3 lists of plants for (1) edging & garden paths, (2) filler plants and (3) self-sowers for the French Kitchen Garden.
The lists are just marvelous!

~ Annie

Here is a link that might be useful: The Potager: A Kitchen Garden in the French Country Style


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RE: Potager vs. Cottage

It's a good question, and it's good that you raised it here. I'm sure the traditional idea of the French potager needs to be re-thought for the purposes of this forum to accomodate the (probable) majority of American gardeners who congregate here. I've done some ruminating about this before, and I think of it as follows:

1) A potager is primarily an edible garden, with flowers mixed in either for harvest (cutting flowers) or for functional purpose (attract beneficial insects or have some other beneficial companion effect on edible plants).

2) A cottage garden is primarily ornamental, with edible plants mixed in as the aesthetic allows.

3) A potager need not be formal, although some most definitely are. There is a distinction between a potager and a parterre, which is a very formal landscaping technique involving knots/cordons, color, patterns, and shrub borders. Parterres/knot gardens are of much later origins and are associated with royalty. Potagers have their origins in medieval jardins de cure, which were enclosed sunken medicinal herb gardens tended by monks. At some point, the jardin de cure was blended with the peasant vegetable and cut-flower garden and the potager was born.

To my own way of thinking, a potager should contain most (but not necessarily all) of the following characteristics:

Primarily vegetables
Herbs
Flowers for cutting
Flowers for beneficial/companion purposes
Fruit trees/shrubs
Enclosure (fencing, stonework, etc)
Framed permanent beds
Permanent paths
Biointensive planting methods
Companion/Interplanting
Successive planting
Organic or biodynamic pest control
Compost program
Water feature
Other aesthetic features (sitting bench, bird houses, etc.)

I think mixing and matching the above characteristics into something that suits your tastes will achieve what you could rightly call a potager.

-Diggity

Here is a link that might be useful: Potager


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