Potager plants for handsome allotments


I was in North Yorks recently and saw some very good looking allotments – a group of four that are being run as potagers (French for kitchen garden), which means that they are planned with as much of an eye to beauty as to productivity. It got me thinking about the way most allotments are laid out – for maximum yield of crops, but not for eye candy. And yet so many of the crops we grow are really pretty. So now I’m thinking again about layouts and plants, to see if there are opportunities to make things look more attractive:

Globe artichokes are lovely tall plants, with fantastic silvery-blue leaves. We tend to use ours as focal points in summer, with lower crops growing around them, and you have to cover them in winter or they suffer from frost death. However, on one of the allotments I visited, they were being grown in a row to form a hedge – stunningly attractive.

All the chards tend to be pretty and relatively compact, with big shiny heavily veined green leaves and stems in every colour from cream through ruby to purple. We’ve always had ours in a single bed, but in North Yorks they were interplanting them with salvias and it looked stunning.

Aubergines are grown for their fruit, but their gorgeous flowers deserve to be highlighted as much as any petunia.

Mixed lettuces come in a range of colours and were being grown along paths as a kind of wavy fringe to an otherwise geometric edge – in between there were nasturtiums (self seeding of course) and perennial marigolds to offer both a splash of colour and some companion planting – as both flowering plants are great for attracting aphids away from other crops.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, March 6, 2008

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