A border of mixed leafy greens is a delicious combination of colors and textures.Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey
A planter filled with colorful lettuces, spinach, and flowers is highlighted by vines of peas that drape over the sides.Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey
This bed in La Potager at the Denver Botanic Gardens is planted in tidy rows with unusual red and green lettuces.Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey
Brassica oleracea 'Red Komatsuna' pak choi makes a striking display in the kitchen garden.Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey
Beautiful gardens are in the eye of the beholder.
That held true for me last week as I strolled through the Denver Botanic Gardens. Even though all the gardens were blooming in spectacular style, it was the vegetable and herb plantings that made the biggest impression on me.
Outside the Welcome Center was a long border of mixed leafy greens that should convince all gardeners to add curly kale, cabbage, and basil to their annual and perennial beds. The combination of shapes, sizes, colors and textures, is as lovely as any flowery ornamental bed I’ve seen.
There were several striking displays inside the gardens, as well. In a long planter, the gardeners have mixed green and red leaf lettuce with large-leafed spinach and peas. These veggies were interplanted with purple petunias for a stunning display.
To make the most of a planting like this, repeat the pattern throughout the planter, and place the peas along the planter’s edge so they can drape over the sides.
The pièce de résistance of the vegetable gardens is the La Potager, a gift from the Ladd Family. As a kitchen garden, La Potager is a vegetable gardener’s dream come true.
This gorgeous garden, artistically designed by the gardens’ senior horticulturist Ebi Kondo, features picture-perfect plantings. I was especially impressed with all of the tidy rows of vegetables planted next to lines of colorful flowers in the beautifully designed space.
Some of the interesting lettuces planted in one square space, made up of four triangles, include a large-leaf red lettuce called ‘Rouge d’ Hiver’, the spiky green lettuce leaves of ‘Reine Des Glaces’, and the small red leaves of ‘Lollo Rossa’.
I’d love to know the secret of planting such perfect rows, because not a single plant was out of place.
Have you ever planted a potager? Please share your tips for planting here.
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