Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Cottage or Kitchen Garden

The cottage or kitchen garden is a distinct style of garden that uses an informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, the cottage garden depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure. Homely and functional gardens connected to working-class cottages go back several centuries, but their reinvention in stylized versions grew in 1870s England, in reaction to the more structured and rigorously maintained English estate gardens that used formal designs and mass plantings of brilliant greenhouse annuals.

The earliest cottage gardens were more practical than their modern descendants — with an emphasis on vegetables and herbs, along with some fruit trees, perhaps a beehive, and even livestock. Flowers were used to fill any spaces in between. Over time, flowers became more dominant. The traditional cottage garden was usually enclosed, perhaps with a rose-bowered gateway. Flowers common to early cottage gardens included hollyhocks, pansies and delphinium, all three essentially nineteenth-century flowers. Others were the old-fashioned roses that bloomed once a year with rich scents, simple flowers like daisies, and flowering herbs. A well-tended topiary of traditional form, perhaps a cone-shape in tiers, or a conventionalised peacock, would be part of the repertory, to which the leisured creators of "cottage gardens" would add a sun-dial, crazy paving on paths with thyme in the interstices, and a rustic seat, generally missing in the earlier cottage gardens. Over time, even large estate gardens had sections they called "cottage or kitchen gardens".

Modern-day cottage gardens include countless regional and personal variations of the more traditional English cottage garden, and embrace plant materials, such as ornamental grasses or native plants, that were never seen in the rural gardens of cottagers. Traditional roses, with their full fragrance and lush foliage, continue to be a cottage garden mainstay — along with modern disease-resistant varieties that keep the traditional attributes. Informal climbing plants, whether traditional or modern hybrids, are also a common cottage garden plant. Self-sowing annuals and freely spreading perennials continue to find a place in the modern cottage garden, just as they did in the traditional cottager's garden.

Potager garden

A potager is a French term for an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden. The historical design precedent is from the Gardens of the French Renaissance and Baroque Garden à la française eras. Often flowers (edible and non-edible) and herbs are planted with the vegetables to enhance the garden's beauty. The goal is to make the function of providing food aesthetically pleasing.

Plants are chosen as much for their functionality as for their color and form. Many are trained to grow upward. A well-designed potager can provide food, cut flowers and herbs for the home with very little maintenance. Potagers can disguise their function of providing for a home in a wide array of forms—from the carefree style of the cottage garden to the formality of a knot garden.

A vegetable garden (also known as a vegetable patch or vegetable plot) is a garden that exists to grow vegetables and other plants useful for human consumption, in contrast to a flower garden that exists for aesthetic purposes. It is a small-scale form of vegetable growing. A vegetable garden typically includes a compost heap, and several plots or divided areas of land, intended to grow one or two types of plant in each plot. It is usually located to the rear of a property in the back garden or back yard. Many families have home kitchen and vegetable gardens that they use to produce food. In World War II, many people had a garden called a 'victory garden' which provided food to families and thus freed up resources for the war effort.

With worsening economic conditions and increased interest in organic and sustainable living, many people are turning to vegetable gardening as a supplement to their family's diet. Food grown in the back yard consumes little if any fuel for shipping or maintenance, and the grower can be sure of what exactly was used to grow it. Organic horticulture, or organic gardening, has become increasingly popular for the modern home kitchen gardener.

There are many types of vegetable gardens. The potager, a garden in which vegetables, herbs and flowers are grown together, has become more popular than the more traditional rows or blocks.

The herb garden is often a separate space in the garden, devoted to growing a specific group of plants known as herbs. These gardens may be informal patches of plants, or they may be carefully designed, even to the point of arranging and clipping the plants to form specific patterns, as in a knot garden.

Herb gardens may be purely functional, or they may include a blend of functional and ornamental plants. The herbs are usually used to flavour food in cooking, though they may also be used in other ways, such as discouraging pests, providing pleasant scents, or serving medicinal purposes (e.g., a physic garden), among others.

A kitchen garden can be created by planting different herbs in pots or containers, with the added benefit of mobility. Although not all herbs thrive in pots or containers, some herbs do better than others. Mint, is an example of herb that is advisable to keep in a container or it will take over the whole garden.

The culinary use of herbs may result in positive medical side-effects. In addition, plants grown within the garden are sometimes specifically targeted to cure common illnesses or maladies such as colds, headaches, or anxiety. During the medieval period, monks and nuns developed specialist medical knowledge and grew the necessary herbs in specialist gardens. Now, especially due to the increase in popularity of alternative medicine, this usage is heavily increasing. Making a medicinal garden however, requires a great number of plants, one for each malady.

Herbs grown in herb gardens are also sometimes used to make herbal teas .
Borage is commonly grown in herb gardens; its flowers can be used as a garnish

Some popular culinary herbs in temperate climates are to a large extent still the same as in the medieval period.

Examples of herbs used for specific purposes (lists are examples only, and not intended to be complete):

* Annual culinary herbs: basil, dill, summer savory
* Perennial culinary herbs: mint, rosemary, thyme, tarragon
* Herbs used for potpourri: lavender, lemon verbena
* Herbs used for tea: mint, lemon verbena, chamomile, bergamot, Hibiscus sabdariffa (for making karkade).
* Herbs used for other purposes: stevia for sweetening, feverfew for pest control in the garden.

However, herbs often have multiple purposes. For example, mint may be used for cooking, tea, and pest control.     courtesy  Barry Patterson          my Kitchen Gardener

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog ~ thanks for posting such useful content.


    Kitchen Garden

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