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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

The Portager Garden - Bung It All In!

I like the French style Portager Garden where herbs, vegetable and flowers all grow together. Although I the organised system of keeping bedding groups within their own discipline (the archetypal herb garden is a national treasure) it simple doesn’t work for me.

I don’t want the heavy labour and maintenance of a full vegetable patch and (enjoying the convenience of Twenty First Century Supermarkets) I don’t need to grow my own veg. Years ago, before it was trendy on TV, our family spent a week living on WWII rations and had a “Dig for Victory’ garden patch - we may have needed expert advice if it had been necessity for us. Nevertheless, I do enjoy to dabble - grow a bit of this and that, as much for aesthetics as for nutritional substance.

Over the winter one of the lavender plants died which left a convenient space for some beans to grow. The patch in question is also conveniently close to the kitchen, so picking a few beans or some herbs to supplement a meal is a quiet joy each day. There was a handy space between the herbs and I wanted to add a splash of colour. Almost everything on this row of herbs is purple when in flower (sage, rosemary, thyme and chives) so I’ve thrown in a few Nasturtium seeds as they are said to thrive in any soil. Last year not a single on grew but this year they’ve taken really well - until the caterpillars take hold! This year I’ve also changed the bean seeds to a variety that blossoms white - I’m looking forward to seeing what they taste like. I think they are a smaller variety too. I’m not really over-stretching the herbal theme here (although Portager style gardening would still excuse that) as Nasturtiums are a tasty addition to a salad. However the Geraniums that I’ve planted between the bean canes are not edible, only Rose Scented Geranium petals are edible - so do beware. Nevertheless the Portager gardening scheme gives them a welcome in the patch.

I’m really happy with the result. There’s a pleasant mix of usefulness and beauty - so long as I can keep the weeds at bay.