Potager 101 – Classe 3, Design and Focal Point

Feb 18, 2011 | Gardening, Potager, Potager 101 | 12 comments

So ladies…
How are those designs coming along?
I have been getting emails of photographs of nice big, gorgeous backyards… I envy the space some of you have to work with!

This evening I want to briefly talk about your design creativity & focal point.

“A Potager is where form meets function.
Where nutrition meets the aesthetic.”
The end result of this “function” is a delicious, organic meal presented to your family… or yourself for that matter.

What is the end result of the “form”?The end result should be an eye that is pleased!

As you are planning your layout you can get creative with not only what plants you will grow… for example, you can grow red, purple, yellow, white or orange carrots… but you can get creative with how your plants will grow.

Here are just a couple examples:

“Gutter Gardens” – this is a homemade name we came up with last year inspired by snobbishly laughing at people who don’t clean out their gardens.  I have seen a SUNFLOWER growing from someone’s gutter!  Turns out it’s a common term in the world of gardening. However, this year we will be attaching gutters, in a variety of lengths to our privacy fence and growing short-rooted veggies in them. (Like radish and lettuce).  I have pictured rows of different kinds of lettuce in many different colors.  I may even paint them to look like patina-d copper 🙂

Topsy Turvy Tomatoes
I have heard nothing but good things about these and just may try one or two this year… at least for the kids.  The look a little unsightly at first with the green bag though.

Creative Trellises
You can trellis many things in your Potager… peas, pole beans, some cucumbers… In the past I have used bamboo to make teepees and the last couple years when our neighborhood has it’s one day a year when you can get rid of branches and stuff I walk around and pick out all the sturdy ones and fashion a 6 foot long/4 foot high sort of tent, tied together with twine.  It’s very rustic and very charming but I do hold my breath during those first couple spring thunderstorms!  I found these delightful little pea trellis on my new favorite blog – EwaintheGarden – you won’t BELIEVE her inspirational Potager photographs!
I always grow purple, yellow and green beens… and another splash of color, of course, would be a bright blue morning glory added to your teepee or trellis!

Square foot gardening practices… can be very beautiful too.
This year, instead of fighting weeds in our broccoli bed we will be underplanting with lettuce…  a red leaf variety.  Broccoli and lettuce do not need as much sun as other plants and so we have found the perfect location for them to be protected together from the scorching afternoon Midwest sun.  Square Foot Gardening
 is in my Amazon shopping cart as I type.

In an effort to please your eye… when you look over, walk by or walk up to your Potager you will want your eye to have some where to “go.”

A focal point is a must.  

As you are designing your paths and beds, consider the center or end of your Potager for a special feature, be it a fountain, statue, or a lovely, brightly colored bench… a place to relax as you admire all your hard work.  If it’s in your budget why not a charming little Potting Shed, Chicken Coop or Green house?

Study the following photographs to get a feel how your eye “walks thru” the Potager to the Focal Point…

I have been getting email requests for help in drawing up the plans for some Potager.  I wish I could help each and every one of you.  You’ll for sure want to scour Pinterest and your local botanic gardens for new ideas and inspiration.

If there are any questions about today’s class please leave them in the comment box and I will comment back.

Todays photos were found by Googling:
Garden Focal Points
Topsy Turvy Tomatoes
Green Been Trellis 

Kitchen Garden Layout


  1. Amy @ Homestead Revival

    My potager has NO focal point. How in the world am I going to do this when it’s one long rectangle (terraced I might add) and a 6 foot wide tractor/lawn mower path cuts it in half? Any suggestions?

  2. Anne Lorys - Fiona and Twig

    I am saving these posts for when we finally get moved in!
    AND I am saving up to buy you a plane ticket so you can help me get mine up and running, too!!!

    Happy Weekend!

  3. Sandy

    Excellent lessons! Focal point and a backdrop.

    I’d love to do a potager, but they require flat ground and I live on a steep mountainside!

    Looking forward to yours.


    Sandy @ My Shabby Streamside Studio

  4. à la parisienne

    Thank you for this post. The gutter gardens along the fence is a great idea. Creating the right focal point in my new potager is going to be the most difficult thing because I want it to be unique and European inspired-and I’m on a shoe string budget and live in the cowboy capitol of the world-not too many gorgeous concrete urns around here. Perhaps I will find a wonderful object at the flea market…Most likely, I will have to do something temporary until I find the perfect piece.


  5. Heather's Blog-o-rama

    Wow, these are great ideas. I’ve never even seen/heard of a gutter garden until I read your post today. That’s creative!!1 Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather 🙂

  6. Ann at eightacresofeden

    Just replanted my ‘prison yard’ veggie garden with seedlings. A potager even with a mid-size decorative fence is not going to work for us – we have to completely net our food gardens to keep out the possums, bowerbirds and wallabies. Bush rats have managed to squeeze through too but only munched on a few cucumbers – the cucumber vines grew up and over the sides of the wire netting of our ‘prison yard’ offering a little camoflage. But those gutter gardens are giving me lots of ideas – must show the husband who yesterday bought me two lovely French provincial metal window box planters. Should have told him to go to the plumbing aisle!

  7. Ewa

    Thank you for linking to my blog 🙂 I love the idea of growing lettuce on the wall and it looks beautiful as well.
    Greetings, Ewa

  8. Amanda

    A wealth of information. I’ve been ordering things for my potager and can’t wait until warm weather shows up at my door:)


    These 101 Potager Classes is exactly what I needed for our farm!
    Thank you!

  10. Mrs. B.

    Garden plans: drawn and posted to blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Renata

    Loved this post – I’d never considered actually drawing up my garden ideas – I’ll have to give it a go!
    I’m finally catching up on your blog – & loving it! Thanks for all the work you put in
    Have a great day

  12. myletterstoemily

    you are so clever and helpful at the same
    time! thank you.


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