Today’s word is potager.
Potager is a French word, a lovely word, that references a utilitarian piece of backyard earth that we know as the kitchen garden. Yet, a potager is not merely a plot of ground with vegetables, fruits and herbs. It is a focal point, artful and beautiful.
Design matters in a potager. Plants aren’t merely planted and watered, but cultivated and trained. Espalier trees, vines on trellis, fruits and vegetables interspersed with showy ornamentals. Beds laid out in symmetry. Precise pathways. Every planting thoughtfully considered and selected based on how its color, form, and height complements the bed. It is a garden of intention.
When we purchased our house with the large, sparse backyard, I envisioned a kitchen garden. Not the garden of my husband, mind you, with seeds plopped in the ground nothing considered beyond the care of the plants and the crop produced, but an ordered garden like those we saw in Europe. A potager. A place of respite, where as much joy is derived from surveying the scene, sitting quietly among the produce, as in consuming its bounty.
So we got to work, sketched our plans, selected the materials for the beds, green spaces and pathways, and oversaw the construction, which was completed on Monday.
While it doesn’t look like much now, just some beds, paths and mulch, I hope to make a good deal of progress over the late fall and winter, when the time is right for planting fruit trees and berry bushes in the natural border. By next spring I hope to have this garden well on it way to becoming a true potager, but for now I am simply happy to have the project started, and to have a wee garden in the grass.
If you have your own backyard garden project, or potager, I would love for you to share.