The Art of French Vegetable Gardening in Honor of La Fête Nationale…

A Country-Casual Potager from The Art of French Vegetable Gardening by Louisa Jones with photographs by Gilles Le Scanff & Joelle Caroline Mayer

A Formal French Garden of Culinary Herbs, Fruits and Vegetables featured in The Art of French Vegetable Gardening (image â“’ Gilles Le Scanff & Joelle Caroline Mayer)

In remembering La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day), my attention has turned to the French and their spectacularly stylish potagers. Louisa Jones’ The Art of French Vegetable Gardening, with extraordinary photographs by Gilles Le Scanff & Joelle Caroline Mayer, was given to me as a gift nearly ten years ago. Although it is currently out-of-print, to this day it remains one of the most inspirational books on kitchen garden design that I have ever seen. The French have an instinctive way with herbs, vegetables and fruit trees, designing beautiful, edible gardens that are so much more than practical. When planning my own kitchen garden, my goal was to create a welcoming place, where I would eagerly stroll on a hot summer day. By luring frequent visits, a garden is likely to remain well-tended, with weeding and watering chores becoming part of the daily routine. If you can find a copy of Jones’ book, I highly recommend it.

Companion planting with edible flowers and herbs is a great way to make the kitchen garden attractive both to beneficial insects and human visitors alike. Add a bench or a table to encourage prolonged visits or impromptu meals in the potager. Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead’s stunning Gardening with Herbs is another favorite title, absolutely bursting with European edible-garden style. One of my favorite images from the book, the thyme seat shown below, is but one of the book’s many great ideas for luring guests to the potager. Great kitchen garden design need not be expensive, but it does take a bit of creative thinking and resourcefulness. Keep on the look-out for recyclable furniture and containers to repurpose, or if you are particularly ambitious and crafty, visit Ana White’s Knock-Off Wood for some fantastic outdoor furniture plans and get to work building your own raised beds, planters and benches. I find my kitchen garden always performs best and is enjoyed to it’s fullest potential, when I am spending a great deal of time there. A beautifully designed space makes that easy to do…

A Pretty Destination Makes Everyday Gardening Chores a Pleasure. Inspiration from The Art of French Vegetable Gardening

Inspirational Places Lure Visitors into the Garden with a Place to Rest and Enjoy a Drink or an Alfresco Meal…

Fruit Trees, Arbors and Aromatic, Clipped Hedges Lend Structure to French Kitchen Gardens, While Ever Changing Arrangements of Pretty Pots and Herbs add Artful Accents. Images above â“’ Le Scanff & Mayer from Louisa Jone’s beautiful, The Art of French Vegetable Gardening

An Aromatic Thyme Seat – Design Featured in Gardening with Herbs by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead


The Art of French Vegetable Gardening by Louisa Jones
-out of print but available used-

Gardening with Herbs by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead

The Nasturtium Seat in My Potager â“’ Michaela at TGE


Article and photographs of Ferncliff © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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5 Replies to “The Art of French Vegetable Gardening in Honor of La Fête Nationale…”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Oh Michaela, I absolutely love the Aromatic Thyme Seat, it looks like it’s been in place for centuries! I can picture a maiden from King Arthur’s court perched upon it, just as though it were yesterday. Or nobles from the court of Louis Quinze strolling the formal paths of knot gardens outlined with clipped box hedge… Sigh

  2. Michaela

    Isn’t it wonderful? I also saw one in person, in Europe, when I was a kid. Once upon a time, this maiden tried to build one, but it was a rainy year and the drainage was poor and she failed terribly. But that was a different garden. Maybe I will try again here, where the situation is sunnier and drier a the top of the hill. Can you imagine the wonderful scent on your clothes after sitting there? Much better than the rusty bench.
    xo M

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Funny, I was going to ask whether you knew anyone doing dry stone walling, then remembered the pictures of your garden walls. The president of the Canadian Dry Stone Wall Association lives about 15 minutes from here, so there have been tons (tee hee) of new examples in this area, not to mention loads of historic constructions as well. Sorry, to get back to the point… Did you happen to pick up any tips when Dan Snow was working in your yard? Bet your next stone bench is a smashing (get it?) success!

  4. Michaela

    Thanks for the link to the stoneworker’s blog, Deb! I missed it earlier today. I am thinking that an herbal bench and stone table would be very cool — hoping to relocated my potager one day, and then perhaps I will give some part of the project a whirl. I am intimidated by stone… but Dan Snow does offer walling workshops. Maybe I will actually find tine to attend one someday :)

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