Food Box

Plan a potager (kitchen garden) that also blooms

Diana Anthony doesn’t live in the islands, but in Melbourne, Australia. Fortunately, not only do many plants flourish here that do well there, the garden principles she teaches in this well-organized, beautifully photographed and illustrated book transfer well, too.

Anthony is a proponent of the hundreds-of-years-old European art of creating working kitchen gardens that are married to the decorative elements that give the eye pleasure–aesthetics and practicality combined. To build such a garden is neither cheap nor is it fast. But even if you don’t have the resources of the Sun King, Louis XIV, or the space of his estate at Versaille, or a highly paid garden manager so famous his name, Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie, is still revered 300 years later, you can create a place that gives you as much joy from just glimpsing it from a window as it does food to bring into the kitchen.

Gardeners long to plant their fingers in the soil. But Anthony cautions that your fingers should first be sketching out ideas. Your eyes should be roaming your landscape, no matter how small, oddly shaped or contoured. You must understand the wind and weather conditions, the water, the soil. You must know the space before you plant it.

To do so, you must master certain principles; they’re all here, clearly explained.

You can read this book with interest and enjoyment, but use it to make your mini-Versailles dreams come true.

The Ornamental Edible Garden by Diana Anthony, UH Press, 144 pages, $24.99