Kitchen Garden Creation

Grow culinary and visual delights in the same place.

| May/June 2009

Artistically combining flowers and vegetables in their Duluth, Minnesota, backyard, Greg and Judy Bonovetz are at the leading edge of a growing trend toward kitchen gardens.

A row of tall white acidanthera keeps tomato plants contained, and pots of pink ‘Fantasy’ petunias peek out between tomatillos and bush beans. A bird bath adds an ornamental touch above the beets and carrots, and gazanias bloom below. Ruffled leaves of lettuces in shades of green and purple embroider the edge of the path. Among the couple’s favorites are ‘Outrageous’ and ‘Olga’ romaine, ‘Red Sails,’ a French crisp Batavia called ‘Sierra,’ and a mottled green and red lettuce named ‘Freckles.’ Brilliant orange spikes of crocosmia rise above ferny carrot foliage. Here and there delicate purple and white flowers of lisianthus pop up among the bush beans, and spikes of fragrant Nicotiana sylvestris add their stately presence to several beds. 

Latest trend

According to Bruce Butterfield, market research director at the National Gardening Association, more and more American households have food gardens. He expected to see the number at 25 percent in 2008, and organic gardeners are increasing at the rate of 25 percent a year. Spurred by the popularity of organic vegetables and local eating, the suburban vegetable garden is back in style, and folks who never had a green thumb are tilling the soil.

Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee’s Garden in Felton, California, sees the same boost in interest.

“It’s more like a surge than a trend,” Renee says. “I’ve seen vegetable gardens increase hugely in the last six months. What’s encouraging is people are getting into it not just to save money but they want to know where their food comes from, they want to grow their own healthy and nutritious food, and they’re discovering staying home and having a garden is lots of fun.” 


Today’s vegetable gardens are reaching attractive new heights. Jennifer R. Bartley, author of Designing the New Kitchen Garden, says, “Americans are used to putting our gardens as far away as we can in the landscape – hiding them from view, apologizing a bit because we don’t want anybody to see the working garden.” More and more of us are taking a page from Europeans who, for generations, have nurtured kitchen gardens, which they call potagers because they provide the ingredients for potage, a soup with broth and vegetables.

4/30/2009 8:20:59 PM

Hi! I am in the process of starting a potager and have done a very traditional design (as described). We are starting small until we get the hang of it-the article had some great tips and advice. Thanks! Was wondering what type of stone that was used for the raised bed edges in the picture of the kitchen garden with 4 raised beds and a rustic arbor-? Could you please email this information to me! (others might be interested as well.) We priced cedar-our beds are fairly large- and it might be worth it to put in stone instead-doesn't need replacing! Loved the look of their garden! Gorgeous! Thanks in advance!

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