River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Gardeners Corner

November 2002

How to make an ornamental potager

Fancy doing something different with your garden, how about making an Ornamental Potager.

A potager is an ornamental vegetable garden laid out in a symmetrical pattern with paths intersecting soil-filled beds. Flowers grow amongst the vegetables to attract bees; pollinating the crops, and bring in pest predators such as hoverflies and ladybirds. Choose a sunny site and experiment with different designs that will fit your plot. Making the beds 120cm wide so that all parts of them can be reached from the paths. Sowing, weeding and harvesting can be achieved without standing on the soil. The symmetry of this garden looks good in both winter and summer. If you fancy a winter project you will need the following: -

* Tannalised timber planks 1.5cm thick x 15cm wide+

* 50mm 30mm tannalised timber+

* batten for pegs

* 1 x 40cm peg for every 120cm of shuttering

* 25mm galvanised flat-head nails

* Wood saw

* Spade

* Compost to dig into beds

* Gravel for the paths (1 x 40kg bag covers just over 1sq metre)

1. Mark out your plan with bamboo canes and string lines making sure the paths and beds are the right size. Dig out the paths to a depth of 10cm, pilling the soil in the middle of the beds, and hammer wooden pegs into the ground along their edge using the string lines to keep them straight. The pegs form the supports for the edge of the raised beds.

2. Cut the timber shuttering to length and prop against the pegs, making sure that they're level.

3. Then nail into position, supporting the back of the peg with a spade.

4. Build up the design regularly, checking that the paths are straight and the beds square. If you're making a circle, put it in last.

5. To get the borders ready for sowing, dig compost into the soil - a barrowful for every 2m, and firm gently with the flats of your feet and then rake level. Flatten out the paths and cover with gravel.

Making straight planks bend isn't difficult if you follow the steps below.

1. Mark cutting lines across the planks with a pencil. The closer the lines, the more the wood will bend once cut. For a 1.8m diameter circle, make them 10cm apart.

2. Cut along the lines, four-fifths of the way through the wood with a saw. To save time use a circular saw. Take the ends of the plank and gently bend it with the cuts on the inside of the curve. The wood should make a snapping noise as the sides come together. Once you have an even curve, cut to length and fix into position.

(Reference: "The Garden Makeover Book" by Toby Buckland)

Ruthe Gray

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