Friday, 27 January 2012

Let's Mix It Up a Bit

In the Rosebank garden I have four raised beds which are mainly used for salad crops - you know, things that need to be picked when you need them, instead of having to make a trip to the allotment garden,  so all my herbs are grown at home as well.  But because the beds are part of a flower garden I like to mix and match flowers with the the veg so that it all blends in.  I have written about this before here and implemented most of the planting plans I had then.

Last year I split the Chives and planted them all along the edges of the beds together with California poppies, Nasturtiums, Sweet peas, Pinks and Morning Glory.

'Why on earth should it be a rigid rule that flowers
must be grown in one part of the garden
fruit in another and vegetables
always hidden away somewhere round the back?
Why not grow them all in the same border?
Geoff Hamilton
The Ornamental Kitchen Garden

I like to think of it as my Ornamental Garden and not just a veg patch.  So if I want my Runner beans to look a bit special I use a metal arch to grow them up and leave the bamboo canes for the allotment.

I want it to be pleasing to the eye as well as functional.  So, if I can do this in the raised beds, why not reverse it and put ornamental veg in the flower beds.  I mean, why not have a Sungold tomato plant to give some height in the flower border with a Morning Glory plant twining around it or a few Rainbow chard plants to give lovely coloured foliage, or runner beans threading through a shrub, like you would with a clematis.

from The New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord

These thoughts are all in my head at the moment, but there is no reason why they can't become a reality. I have already begun to do this, with raspberry canes and fruit trees, in amongst the flowers, and I grow tumbling tomatoes in hanging baskets, rather than trailing petunias.  After all, it is my garden, to do with as I wish - so why don't I work outside the box and have a little fun with it.  There are no set rules are there, so I may just break a few.

from the New Kitchen Garden by Anna Pavord


  1. I was inspired by Geoff Hamilton too. Since watching his Ornamental Kitchen Garden programme many years ago, I've always grown fruit and veg amongst the flowers. In fact, it now seems quite natural to me to grow things this way.

  2. What a great idea to use a metal arch for pole beans. I will have to remember that one. I think it is wonderful how you mix flower's in with your veggies. Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Alys Fowler is also keen on mixing everything and breaking a few rules along the way. It will be interesting to see your ideas develop, Elaine. Then I'm going to pinch them all...

  4. I do love that idea and would like to try a bit of it myself. Perhaps not on a huge scale this year (or next) as I have to get the hang of the veg growing bit first and maintain 100's of plants Mrs H planted here first. I really enjoyed the series that Alys Fowler did on this subject - was it a couple of years ago now!! Looking forward to seeing your results.

  5. In my last garden I built a temporary tunnel from bean poles arching over a brick path. It worked really well, allowing you to harvest from the inside as well as the outside. (It was also lovely and shady). And I always like to grow sunflowers and sweetpeas in the veg beds. Good luck with your plans - like you say it's your garden. (Dear old Geoff)!

  6. I really like the idea of mixed planting, but I can't quite get my head round what it means for soil preparation and crop protection. I think legumes, salads, herbs and tomatoes, squashes etc. could all work really well, but I haven't worked out how to do it with caulis and cabbages. But when I have a new garden I may just have to give it a go, just to find out...

  7. I like your mix-it-up idea very well. It's nice that the foliage and flowers complement each other.

    When I ran out of space for my freesia bulbs, I planted a few next to some green onions. Unfortunately, when harvesting some at night, one must take extra care to cut the right green stalks!