As part of the horticultural practices module of the HND/BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Scottish Agricultural College, first year students are each required to design, plant and maintain a plot that includes at least 40% vegetables (specified by the course tutor) on which they are assessed at the end of June.

In addition to these individual plots and also as part of the horticultural practices module,  the first years were assigned to work in teams to design either a potager-style planting scheme (this bed), or a colour-themed border planting (in an adjacent area of the demonstration garden). As well as deciding on the overall design and choice of species to grow, each team needed to decide how many plants they would need to fill their designated area.

Essentially, the term ‘potager’ means ‘ornamental kitchen garden’, in which vegetables, flowers and herbs are grown together, cheek by jowl. The planting can be formal, in repeating patterns, or informal, in drifts, with plants dotted here and there. Not only can such arrangements be more attractive than regimental rows of vegetables, they can also increase biodiversity, attracting many beneficial insects, and potentially camouflage some edible plants from pests.

In this informal potager planting, eight students worked together on design, propagation and planting – all of the plants, as in the students’ assessed plots, were grown from seed using organic methods. The scheme includes a variety of edible and ornamental species:

Anethum graveolens (dill)
Atriplex hortensis (orache, red) ‘Red Plume’
Beta vulgaris (beetroot) ‘Bull’s Blood’
Brassica oleracea var. acephala (kale, red and green) ‘Redbor’ and ‘Winterbor’
Centaurea cyanus (cornflower) ‘Blue Boy’
Cerinthe major (honeywort) ‘Purpurascens’
Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’ and ‘Antiquity’
Foeniculum vulgare (fennel, bronze) ‘Sweet Bronze’
Hordeum jubatum (foxtail barley)
Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea) ‘Matucana’
Limonium sinuatum (statice) ‘Purple Attraction’
Pennisetum villosum (fountain grass) ‘Cream Falls’
Satureja hortensis (summer savory)
Scabiosa ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Blue Cushion’
Thymus vulgaris (thyme) ‘Old English’
Verbena bonariensis