Thursday, June 19, 2014

Heronswood Potager Project Report

Potager at Heronswood with delphiniums
Ursinia anthemoides

Petunia integrifolia with Ursinia anthemoides

Calendulas starting to bloom in the potager

Schizanthus with Ursinia

    Those of you who see my Facebook posts know that I have been working at Heronswood on a project to create a planting scheme in the Potager.  As many of you already know, the potager is a section at Heronswood that was originally created for a vegetable garden.  It consists of 8 beds, in a geometric pattern, each surrounded by a dwarf boxwood hedge.  Most of these 8 beds are in full sun, although 2 of them are a little bit more shaded than the others.  There were 4 large clumps of edible rhubarb in 4 of these beds, and in the other 4, there were established cardoons.  It was decided to leave these existing plants in place, although I think that it has now been decided that these will be removed for next year.  The rhubarb looks bad later in the summer, so it does not help the picture we are trying to create, while the cardoons seem to not be doing so well, and they also need to be cut back at a time when the rest of the plantings should be going strong.
     So, to get to the point, the plan for the potager is to create a wildflower meadow look, using annuals we have grown from seed.  We also bought some plants from Annie's Annuals just so we could get the beds going earlier than if we just planted our own seedlings.  Structure was to be provided by planting Musa Sikkimensis in each of the beds which would provide a nice big broad leafed contrast to the fine and fussy foliage of the annuals.  Dan Hinkley gave divisions from his plant to the garden for this purpose, and they are all growing happily now, albeit still small.
     All the delphiniums that I had at Froggy Bottom, and which I wrote about here and here, have been brought to Heronswood and planted in these beds. These have done so well and are so spectacular that plans are afoot to grow more of them from seed and plant more in these beds for next year.  We have also planted in excess of 200 orienpet lilies (I described these here) in these beds, both to act as stakes for the delphiniums, which I previously described here, and to add even more punch to these borders.  Once these lilies get going (they will not reach their full size for another year or two), it should be like walking into a fragrant forest of lilies when entering the potager in lily season!
     We devised a slightly different scheme for the 2 more shady beds, involving using aconitums instead of delphiniums, and planting divisions of Hedychium 'Tara' (previously described here) from Froggy Bottom.  We did not think the delphiniums would do well in the shade of those beds, but we have now revised our view, realizing that those two beds are sunnier than first thought.  So delphiniums will go there next year, instead of the aconitums.  We also thought that the annuals would not do well in those two beds because of the shade, but we are now realizing that they will do just fine.  We found that out because we planted many of them in those two beds, and they grow and bloom, despite its being less sunny than in the other beds.
      As for the annuals we are growing, a conscious decision was made to use as many west coast natives as would meet our criteria as we could.  Therefore, more than half the annuals we are growing are California (and maybe Oregon and Washington) natives.  It is actually hard to find annuals that are native to the Kitsap Pennisula.  I do not even know if there are any.
      You may ask what our criteria for choosing these annuals were.  Well, first of all, they had to be between one and three feet tall to grow up above the boxwood hedges. Second,  they had to be plants that would commingle well.  Finally, they had to be in jewel tones with a fairly even spread between yellows/oranges, blues/purples, and pinks/magentas.  No whites allowed!  Anyway, this post is getting to be too long as it is, so I will have a post another day describing exactly which seeds we ordered and how I think they have done.


  1. Linda- It's becoming more and more esort of place where Monet would have liked to live...

  2. Truly spectacular -- the kind of place that would always leave the visitor smiling!

  3. Wonderful! Those delphiniums look like huge exclamation marks. It was very nice of you to bring them to Heronswood! Thank you, Linda!