The most recent iteration of the Potager was more successful than the last, but only just barely. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the veg portion of it didn’t do a thing (other than the chives and green onions) because BUNNIES. And the floral aspect was found to be a bit wanting all the way around. I feel like this is one of those projects that is going to take a while to get right, and that is perfectly fine by me.
We did build the obelisk (which has a lean that is not intentional and will need fixing come spring), which fits the space well and gives the vertical interest it had been missing. I was less thrilled with the vine selections I made this year. I went with a combo of Morning Glories (Ipomoea tricolor) and Cardinal Vine (Ipomoea x multifida) that didn’t take off until late August and then looked like an overgrown mess. Before it took off, it looked like a matted mess (see photo above).
Next year I plan to try Cup and Saucer vine (Cobaea scandens) for the obelisk and perhaps throw in one Black Eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) like ‘African Sunset’ for an extra pop of color. The beauty of annual vines is that I can experiment with what looks great on the obelisk year after year. I just need to remember that our extra variable springs (apparently the new norm?) mean I need to be more patient and not rush to get things in the ground- especially with less hardy varieties like these.
We didn’t use the raised platform outside the greenhouse much this year (see below). The Fig and Orange trees stayed up at the patio so this spot was rather bare all year. There wasn’t much to make the spot feel cozy or bring extra interest. The photo makes it plainly obvious that the platform screams for pots and a bench. I do think the fruit trees are actually happiest down here so the plan is to bring them back (despite the back breaking work of hauling those huge pots down there- ugh) and add in a bench or a comfy chair. I plan to add a big pot of mint and a few pots of Pelargoniums to the mix as well.
I did move four dwarf Highbush Cranberries (Viburnum opulus var. americanum L. Ait) -you can see two inside those metal spheres, the other two are behind the obelisk in the same orientation- to give some permanence and presence to the space. I had bought them the year before to fill out and beef up some of the bare spots in the Dry Cottage garden, but they never took off and seemed to be pleading with me to move them. This seemed like the perfect spot, they will get a lot more sun, less competition, and they fit with the idea of the Potager quite well.
I think my real problem with the area is that the herbs and veg bit in the middle is all rather flat and low to the ground. This means it doesn’t dynamic or interesting. And the planting just isn’t that lush or colorful. Now, had the Swiss Chard not been dined on by said bunnies, that would have helped quite a bit! But the Radicchio didn’t add much to the proceedings, nor did the short lived Cilantro or Dill. I also need to pull out the Oregano (the big mass to the right back of the obelisk above), which is far too happy and spreading everywhere.
I rather think the answer is bigger veg (think cabbages, Swiss Chard, Kale), less herbs, and to steer away from annual cut flowers and more towards some perennials that can also serve as cut flowers. I’m thinking along the lines of some uniquely colored Echinacea, Betony, Primula, or even some Asiatic Lilies. Do you all have any suggestions I’m not thinking of?
I’m excited to keep tweaking this area to get it where I want it to be. Here’s hoping for bigger leaps forward next year!