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A Change of Heart : Renovation and Renewal Time at Garden Designers Round Table

Posted Sep 21 2010 3:49am
I remember the exact moment the renovation bug bit me.  It was early September and I had rare 4-day Labor day holiday all to myself.  I was reading the latest edition of my GGG  ( Glossy Gorgeous Gardening ) magazine under the shade arbor, sipping a glass of Sweet Tea.   

"Are you tucking your vegetables in far corners because you think they're dull and ugly?  the garden article asked.  A nod and sigh to the tomato and peppers near the utility box. Think your garden is too small to grow them?   Umm , pretty small, lots of herbs in pots on the patio.   " Why not have a beautiful garden and eat it too? Vegetables, fruits , herbs  and flowers growing happily together in what the French call a potager .  Well I'm already enjoying the fruit of my prolific Asian pear tree, and the two grape vines I planted this Spring will produce their first crop next year, so if I plant an apple tree and some blueberries I'll have a home fruit orchard.

The more I thought about having an ornamental vegetable garden the more I liked it. The idea that the potager is an ornamental, four-season landscape that can be the center of attention even in a small urban plot such as mine was appealing.   Of course I also had visions of fried green tomatoes, okra,  succotash and a beautiful salad with nastariums and pansies.  So with this is mind I cleared my back 40 of most of its perennials and began my adventure in potagering ( is there such a word?  If not, there is now. We Southerners like to make up our own.)

With the exception of removing a huge 25 year old yew I'm proud to say I did all the grunt work myself and lived to tell the tale .  This 40-year-old body trapped in a 66 one wasn't even sore the next day, a true testament to what gardening and landscaping has done for me.

The fun part was selecting and planting the clipped boxwoods, 'Knockout ' rose shrub, two blueberries, coneflowers, ornamental kale and variegated sage.  Before planting I prepared the beds with my special recipe of alfafa humate and cattle manure compost, cottonburr compost and fine pines soil conditioner.  When passersby got a whif of it they thought they were in the country.  In a barnyard.  No matter how composted it is, cattle manure smells like a barnyard until it airs out.

 This is merely the beginning of an exciting gardening adventure . I'll need more potager- appropriate whimsicals such as Rusty the Rooster who now sports a bright red coat.  My collection of colorful gourd birdhouses will have a place on the garden wall.   Fall will be spent planting bulbs for Spring and securing a dwarf apple tree, Winter for planning the raised bed veggie and herb beds and Spring for planting . 

Busy with my new garden I lost touch with the real world.  Then out of the blue came a message from the Garden Designers Round Table :  This month's topic is renovation and renewal and you're on the list.  No kidding.  Very timely, y'all.  Here's my contribution
New beginnings :  A peek at my potager .

" Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights " - Pauline R. Kezer

For more on renovation and renewal visit the Ladies and gents of the Round Table at :

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