A potager garden is a year around kitchen garden which supplies the cook with fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and/or flowers on a daily basis. Different than an American vegetable garden that is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, a potager garden is replanted throughout the season.
Care is taken to contrast colors and textures, in order to avoid the farm field appearance of long rows of single varieties, and to keep producing food for daily use. Once a crop has been harvested, another is sown in its place. It can also use perennial plants such as fruit trees and bushes.
This style of gardening is an art form. Depending on the season and what is perfectly ripe determines what is served for dinner. Repetition in color, shape, form, and materials unifies the design and adds a sense of clarity and reduces a spotty, chaotic look and feel.
Color opposites can add excitement and energy in any garden, including the kitchen garden. Red and green, orange and blue and violet and yellow are opposite each other on the color wheel. By carefully placing some of the plants in a manner that uses this design principle, you can add instant drama. Here are some examples. Rainbow swiss chard stems are red, green and yellow. Bulls blood beets have the most vibrant burgundy leaves imaginable. Cabbage can be found in shades of green, red and purple, while sage plants are soft grey, silver or multi colored. Basil can be green, or purple, or red. Lettuces can be found in shades of creamy green to bold red.
Think of foliage and its texture, since foliage is a constant. Kale has crinkly leaves, while broccoli and cabbage have a round appearance. A lacy texture is found in bronze fennel, fern like fronds of asparagus and the spikiness of garlic scapes all contribute to the look of the garden.
Plant shapes can be vertical such as garlic, onions, leeks and climbers like beans and peas. Horizontal plant forms are found in nasturtiums, lavender, thyme and parsley. By varying the forms a more interesting garden emerges.
Look for examples of kitchen garden design elements at Allen Centennial Garden, located at 620 Babcock Drive in Madison, Wisconsin. Exquisite gardens ar open to the public every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset. Their website is http://www.allencentennialgardens.org/.