I love working with stone. Though the stone you see above does not necessarily stack like legos as one might imagine, one quickly figures out how to turn the stone around and around to expose the most attractive face, how to steady the stone with adjacent stones, and how to backfill with gravel or soil to create a sturdy wall. I constructed the little potager above in a couple of weeks this spring, working about an hour a day between work and picking up kids. It has served my needs beautifully, and I'll show you why...
Above, you see my first vegetable garden. What an eyesore....and the animals! Can you feel my frustration? Raised beds are a necessity for me. The original veggie garden ground-breaking almost turned into a shovel-breaking as most of what's under the grass is large tree roots, heavy clay, or rocks. In the photo below, you'll see the original year one garden - the L-shaped garden. You'll also notice lots of shade. Though I'm not always so astute, I was wise enough to chart the sunlight in my backyard and found the sunny hours were between 12pm and 6pm. I built the raised beds directly under the sun, as most of my backyard is shaded. Year two brought an expansion (naturally, right?) - a 4X4 square to fill in the L. Below, the inspiration for this garden (my then 7 year old) is helping me plant garlic. See that horrible slope behind her? It's covered in weeds, poison ivy, sunken in dips, tree roots, and broken liquor bottles from the previous owner of the house. Something had to be done.
After much research and a summer of unlimited and unnatural confidence, my husband helped me build the stone wall. The steps lead to a walk that leads to a little sitting area on the slope (outside the left edge of the photo). The plan is to move the fire pit to this cozy sitting area. I'm really pleased with the wall project. The only problem is...it really calls attention to the ugly wooden vegetable garden. I thought about using stone, but envisioned that a large, rectangular, stone vegetable garden would look too "heavy" and too boxy. At the same time, I really wanted to expand as much as possible while still keeping the garden out of the shade.
After ruminating over this for two years, I found the potager below to be the perfect solution. It was easy for me to build myself. There was left over stone from the wall project. The stone maintains a consistent look, but the potager design keeps the garden from looking too utilitarian or heavy. The four rectangles allowed for a slight expansion while still providing paths between the beds so as to prevent trampling the soil. The rounded corners at the center of the potager helps soften the edges. I also love the potager's symmetry. The design maximizes the gardening area under the sun. In the separate beds, I also added monarda, lavender, and a selection of herbs and marigolds in an effort to attract pollinators and beneficials. Of course, having a space in the center allows for a container planting that is a beautiful focus as I walk to the back yard from the side yard, or as I look out the back window.