Create a Stylish, Fashionable and Decorative Vegetable Garden
Through the centuries, vegetables, herbs and other edible plants have been grown in a range of decorative designs. These designs can be adapted to suit today’s gardening styles.
Used since medieval times, walled gardens provide a private sanctuary from the outside world. The walls create a sheltered environment, ideal for growing plants that might not survive in more exposed conditions. The walls themselves are an attractive design feature: traditionally walls were built from local stone, but in today’s gardens they are usually constructed from rendered brick. The walls are ideal for growing espaliers.
Originating in formal gardens in the Elizabethan era, knot, or parterre, gardens were arranged in geometric patterns (knots), designed to be viewed from an upper window. The borders of the knots were edged in low, clipped edges and filled with gravel or, less commonly, with massed herbs or flowering plants.
Formal vegetable gardens
Formal vegetable gardens (also called Potagers) embraced the concept of growing vegetables and ornamentals in stylised, formal beds separated by paths. As the name suggest, this type of garden originated in France. The beds are usually edged with a clipped low-growing hedge, and often feature standard plants (such as standard roses) or formal topiary plants in the centre of the garden or on the corners of the beds. In some cases, religious symbols were incorporated into the design of such gardens.
Stylish Contemporary Vegetable Garden Design
You might like to include some of the following design ideas in your herb and vegetable garden:
- Grow a colourful vegetable garden – choose one or two main colours for contrast or harmony and plan for seasonal colour effects. For example, plant parsley borders around coloured foliage vegetables such as kale or a coloured lettuce.
- Mix vegetables with other plants – in the flower garden, in rock gardens, amongst fruit trees.
- Grow espaliered fruit trees – espaliers are plants trained to grow flat along a wall. They look great, they save space, and the wall provides a warm, protected environment for growth and early fruit ripening. Most commonly espaliers are fruit trees, such as apples and pears, but climbers trained on wires attached to a wall are also popular.
- Use hedging – hedges can be informal or formal, but generally the best hedges for vegetable gardens are multi-functional: they shelter the growing beds, they provide a sense of year-round structure and permanence to the garden, they screen the garden from view, and they give flowers, fruits or nuts. Depending on the climate and garden style, lavender, rugosa roses, rosemary, hazelnuts, lilly pillies and citrus make useful and attractive hedges.
- Use attractive climbing frames and trellises – there are many different ready-made structures available for supporting climbing plants, or you can make your own. A bamboo or metal tripod is an attractive support peas, beans and other climbing plants.
- Add a water feature – traditional features such as a timber half-barrel or old-fashioned water pump are often used enhance the veggie garden.
- Use attractive pots or ornaments as focal points.
- Train plants as topiary – plants trained and clipped to ornamental shapes add an element of fun to the garden. Clipped bay or citrus trees are well suited as topiaries in the vegetable garden.
Ornaments for the Vegetable Garden
Traditional ornaments for vegetable and herb gardens are scarecrows, water barrels, wind vanes, sundials, rustic farming implements and old gardening tools, arches and garden seats. Set these in beds or alongside paths made of gravel, recycled brick or stone.
For a contemporary garden, use statues, pots or water features as focal points in the vegetable garden.
Learn More about Landscaping, Vegetable Growing or Home Gardening
Do you have a passion for gardening? Are you looking to start out or expand a gardening business? Whatever brings you to gardening, we have a large selection of different courses to improve your knowledge and help you develop your skills.
Whether you are starting out, or want to specialise in particular areas of gardening and horticulture we offer courses from introductory through to advanced levels. All of our courses are studied by distance learning and many feature practical exercises and tasks.
Our horticulture tutors are highly knowledgeable and experienced in their industry. If you would like to start studying with us, but are not sure where to start, why not connect with our specialist horticulture tutors today? They will be pleased to hear from you.
More from ACS
Over 150 short courses, certificates and diplomas covering landscaping, crops, plants of all types and general gardening.
This courses includes the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate); and more.