The demonstration garden at the Botanics is a veritable frenzy of activity at this time of year. It is not just the Edible Gardening Project team at work in the area; schools, apprentices, community groups and students are all putting in plenty of gardening hours.

The student plots have been located in the demonstration garden for about 5 years. They are a real draw for our visitors as they are pretty spectacular once they are in full swing. They are designed, planted and maintained by our first year Horticulture with Plantmanship students. To find out more about the students and their experiences take a look at student Kasia’s blog. It is well worth a look, but be warned – it will make you want to get out in the garden and get growing!

This year the Botanics’ horticultural apprentices are getting in on the act too. They have started work on their plot and are creating a potager garden. Horticultural technician Robyn Macdonald explains just what this is below.

The term ‘potager’ is French and means ‘an ornamental kitchen garden’. The aim of a potager is to make food production more attractive by growing vegetables and fruit interspersed with other plants such as annuals, herbs, and grasses. They can have a very formal style, with the plants arranged in bold geometric shapes and straight lines. Or it may be more relaxed and informal.

There are a number of advantages to growing your vegetables and fruit in this way, including:

  • Camouflage from pests – It’s harder for a pigeon to spot a cabbage when it’s surrounded by a riot of colour!
  • Increased biodiversity – The range of flowers surrounding your crops will attract a whole host of beneficial insects and other wildlife