You can create your own Modern Day Kitchen Garden right on your city lot just the way you want it to be…you are the artist!

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Why not Float your flowers from your Modern Day Kitchen Garden?

I love flowers + I love them blooming right out my door! We live in such a busy, fast paced life that, connecting with nature seems to be more difficult as we fill the hours of our days with more “stuff” to do. A long time ago, I slowed down and embraced simplicity. When we first moved to our home in 1999, it was filled with nothing but “grass” and many evergreens. There were some random flowers here and there, for example, a peony bush and two rose bushes. That was about all the flowers I remember blooming on our property.

I was busy in the early years with running kids here and there + did not have too much time to spend in the gardens, but what time I had, I added flowers! I was riding my bike with my friend one day on the river, and we were chatting about different garden styles. I mentioned I had been reading about “potager” gardens. At that time, my veggies + herbs were at the back of my yard. My small amount of flowers were along the walkway, but I felt something was missing or did not feel complete. She had been to France, and we discussed the way the French cook year round and how they eat in season. That day, I was inspired to try to create a potager garden on my city lot.

What is a Potager Garden?

 “A potager is a French term for an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden. The historical design precedent is from the Gardens of the French Renaissance and Baroque Garden à la française eras. Often flowers (edible and non-edible) and herbs are planted with the vegetables to enhance the garden’s beauty. The goal is to make the function of providing food aesthetically pleasing.

Plants are chosen as much for their functionality as for their color and form. Many are trained to grow upward. A well-designed potager can provide food, as well as cut flowers and herbs for the home with very little maintenance. Potagers can disguise their function of providing for a home in a wide array of forms—from the carefree style of the cottage garden to the formality of a knot garden.”( wikepedia read more here)

They are very drought tolerant which is ideal for our humid summers.

I started researching Potager Gardens.I realized the possibility of me having a symmetrical, geometric or formal garden was not going to happen.My growing space was shared with the house, garage, driveway, sidewalks, porches and random non-living items throughout my growing area. I had to think outside the box and then it dawned on my, why not include the two garden styles; I love! I am not a formal person. To me a Cottage Garden adds that whimsical touch to a garden space for it is okay if something wanders here and there or travels and mingles with other things growing nearby! Now that is my type of garden!

2011 front yard, orange zinnia veggies sept 9th 010_edited-2

 I don’t have a cute cottage home or live in the country,  so how do you do this????

 I found this description in Sunset Magazine of how to create a Cottage Garden

“Cottage gardening is an attitude, not a location”
“You can achieve a cottage effect in the heart of the city as well as the suburbs. All you need is a passion for plants and a willingness to mix them all up”


These may be gardens for out West from Sunset Magazine, but I can adapt anything to where I live…I put an article + resource below to inspire you as well!

Guide to cottage gardening

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer


  1. I love your garden Robbie and I believe we met over cyberspace because of our potagers! I can’t wait to try Casper(?) eggplant this year which I believe you recommended in a post. Now that Christmas is behind us I am thinking New Year and that means plans and seeds no matter where I am. This lazy Sunday I find myself looking through my blog and really missing my garden ): (but sure as h*ll not the weather – it is 70°F and sunny here)! I am also flipping through seed catalogs and blue stone perennial’s catalog … dreaming big – perhaps a sunken lotus pot? I really hope to put in my small pond this year. A great day. I can’t wait to see what you do with your new found space in lieu of the overgrown shrub.

    1. A pond!!! Now that is something I would love to do BUT I will let you figure that all out + teach me…hmmm..where can I squeeze that in! I’ll watch Kathy do:-) it/figure it out after she gets it right-for I know you always do:-) I love Casper Egg plant. It is tender and ohhhhh…so yummy. Some people say it tastes a bit like mushrooms…hmmm…I don’t know about that-keep me posted as to how you think it tastes-lol-I find it one of the best. I am growing some other egg plants this year + Casper egg from my saved seeds(2013). I am eager to grow them out and see how they do. Will they be better?
      Bluestone Perennials- is one of my favorite-EYE CANDY!!!! I am ready to be done with Christmas since it just gets too commercial for me every year. I am eager to see our gardens next year. Enjoy your weather…it will be spring here soon! I can hardly wait!
      + thank you-I love your garden,too!!!

  2. An inspiring post as usual Robbie. I can’ t wait to start the new year in the garden. It is great fun dreaming and reading seed catalogues at this time of the year. I am sure we will all be inspiring one another and trying new ideas.
    Happy gardening!

    1. awww-thank you:-)I know- I am VERY excited to see what my “new” bulbs, I put in last spring look like this spring! Happy Gardening to you,too:-)

  3. Beautiful photos Robbie. This year I have found inspiration from your blogs, from my visit to the Botanic Gardens in Wales and from all the wonderful pollinators I have seen throughout the year here in my own garden to make sure that in 2015 I have a lot more flowers in my garden too. I hope to incorporate more flowers into my vegetable plot and also hope to create a cottage type herb and flower area just outside my kitchen backdoor. Thank you for the inspiration and Happy New Year and Happy Planting.

    1. awww-thank you + your photos are quite good- I might add!:-) I am excited to find more places, I can fit more in + like they say, A person can never have too many plants.
      I love how they mix and flow + interact with all of nature that comes to explore:-)I also am excited to eat some new + interesting foods in 2015, I am growing:-)
      Happy New Year to you + I feel, 2015 is going to be the best year for us all- I counted 5 monarchs hanging around 2014-my goal this summer is to make it to 7+ for I started with none!

    1. Happy New Year to you + I am looking forward to see what you have created in your new garden! Also your new “little” gardener should be exploring you space- this summer!

      1. She tried to chew on my trowel just yesterday! All I’ve managed lately is some leaf gathering and layering into the beds. Hopefully some seed starting this week.

  4. Isn’t this the very conversation we were just having somewhere or other? About art and creating and colour and all those good things … and here it all is in one delectable post! Your garden photos should become a coffee table book – now that would be inspirational and aspirational too! You are a mixed media artist! Happy new year Robbie, can’t wait to see where all your experimentation takes you! xoxo

    1. Pauline- yes we did!!! After our conversation, I was listening to TED TALKS and found this guy who was an artist-creating gardens in LA + he said, I am an artist when I use the soil as my canvas! I agree we are artist when we use the plants + nature to be our medium! I am excited to grow some new and interesting things this next summer- I have some “pretty” ones up my sleeves! LOL…well, your garden was a piece of artwork this year! I love to photograph the beauty in nature + who doesn’t love a flower, butterfly or colorful creature in our garden:-) + Happy New Year to you–I predict 2015 is the year of the “garden-artist”…yep, we are a new breed!

  5. Robbie I can tell you are already chomping at the bit for spring!! And now you’re making me chomp, too!. You are my Garden Resource so I’ll be coming to do research often! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!!

    1. I am chomping + CHEWING:-) I have a lot under lights growing right now–it is getting closer to countdown after the 1st..the days get longer-YIPEE:-)
      You have a great New Year,too!

  6. WONDERFUL post, Robbie! Your enthusiasm comes through and with all those gorgeous photos, it’s hard not to catch it! I, too, love a mixed garden and although I don’t garden to the degree you do, you make me wish I did! (I’m too lazy, I guess!) Happy New Year to you and yours!

    On Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 1:39 PM, Palm Rae Urban Potager…… Modern Day

    1. lol..Lazy-I don’t think so-you take care of 7 acres + all the critters that live on that acreage:-) My space is small but I do take care of my little “urban crew”-lol. I am so excited for this spring, tired of being inside—-eager for all this darkness to go!
      Happy New year to you ,too:-)
      It will be a great year for the monarchs….we are going to increase our numbers-I just know we will!!!
      I planted a bunch of host and nectar out there , so I am keeping my fingers crossed:-)

  7. Robbie, I love those photos! Cottage gardens have always been my favourites and I’ve always mixed veggies and flowers (whenever I had a garden, that is; I’ve had many times without them, too). I love the old English style with tall things clumped in together so that the front yard is just full and scattered amongst the flowers are the lovely edibles. Thanks for sharing your photos and ideas. I hope you have a lovely New Year’s Eve and I wish you all the best in the coming year, too. Can’t wait for the spring photos . . . ~ Linne

    1. Hi Linne,
      awww-thank you:-)I stopped over to yours the other day + needed to catch-up with you and Fran:-) I just finished Fran’s posts right now from Christmas eve-yikes, I am behind. I watched the video from the ‘permaculture’, I am so excited for that video was very educational and totally “spot on!!!!” He said: “untidiness is good natural order + tidiness is maintained disorder” BRIILLANT. I feel that describes my goal with my garden. A cottage garden is good natural order—fits with permatculture( edible + unedible working together) mix it up + you have it all in one place:-)
      I am excited for spring, too. cot-perm-pot-polyculture!lol….my approach!
      I will visit you later today at your site-I noticed yesterday you have been VERY busy:-) wow-I wish I could make the stuff you do-I can’t sit still long enough to knit/crochet! I sure do admire your beautiful work:-) Miss chatting with you:-)

  8. Happy New Year to you! I certainly enjoyed all your garden photos. I can’t wait to see what you decide to grow this year 🙂

  9. Lovely photos of your gorgeous garden and I especially love the crackle treatment that makes your house and garden look distinctly Mediterranean (I am NEVER going to learn how to spell that word! Thank goodness for spell check! 😉 ). Lovely Ms Robbie :). I am always inspired and invigorated whenever I read one of your posts Robbie. I completely GET where you are coming from and love your ethos and your processes. We just hauled an enormous amount of aged horse manure and rotted oak leaves up to Sanctuary in order to double the size of the gardens up there and I am planning on dotting edible flowers all over the place and am going to start growing more herbs. Your garden is an inspiration. It is so beautiful, productive, full of potential opportunities to learn, to grow and to share that anyone visiting it (including yourself) must come away feeling refreshed, revitalised and renewed :). Happy New Year to you and your family and here’s to many more visits to Palm Rae Urban Potager, a little urban oasis of joy, of honesty and of communal sharing in 2015 🙂

    1. shhhh…Fran, don’t tell anyone-that crackle-effect/element(mosaic on photoshop) was to hide the HUGE cracks, I have over the arches-lol. We can’t find anyone to help us fix them. I sure hope they don’t tumble down here soon. Water damage in there since the people we purchased the home from in 1999, had huge vines hanging all over the house. It was encased in vines and kept moisture in there which rotted the wood. We have dried it out, but have to add more stucco.
      I cleared all those heavy vines off the house to save the house. They thought it looked nice, and it did but it was awful for the wood under the stucco. Also the vines were very heavy on the structure. Wish us luck:-) My husband had to tie up one wall for it started to slide down in the courtyard area/porch area. The house is surviving but there sure is a lot more work to do:-)
      My garden is really small compared to your lovely acreage…I am so excited for you and enjoy your photos + stories from your beautiful farm….
      I may write about that quote from Permaculture video where he said- untidiness is good natural order + tidiness is maintained disorder….YEP…that is why I love cottage style…I came up with my new word for my urban potager( after seeing the film)—it is A cot-perm-potaculture! Yep…mix it up!!! WELL!!!
      thank you for all your support-makes all the work + blogging worth it:-) when you share with other kindred spirits!!!!
      HAPPY NEW YEAR! The Year of Growth:-)

      1. Most definitely the year of growth and in my case, the year of putting into practice what I have learned. I have started early and BOY am I tired but very very happy 🙂

    1. Chloris-I am deeply honored-I will be over there later today /tomorrow to check it out! From you it means even more:-) I have to repot some of my little cole crop seedlings for is around the corner. I don’t know about “coir” for seedlings yet, hmmm..still working with that + will share later:-)

  10. Is this a new design for the blog or just this post? Love it! PS, I thought of you the other day when I was planting mache seed outside(yes–at Christmas!–it’s been that warm!) I know you’re big on starting indoors but I don’t have enough space (not to mention, cats!) so I envy you the head start!!! Enjoy watching your babies grow and look forward to spring. Happy New Year, Robbie!!!

    1. Hi Lori:-)
      Yea, I got tired of the other one + wanted a change:-) It is a NEW year:-) I like it better since it does not have that stupid bubble in the corner-it was staring to annoy me-lol I”ve been seeding a few things out there, too:-) since it has been warmer this winter-I don’t mind:-) BUT that will be changing this week-brrrrrrr…it is cold outside again. I also like to grow seedlings for it gets my hands in the soil + I tend to be a bit crabby stuck in the house!

  11. Robbie I love that quote ““Cottage gardening is an attitude, not a location!” Your beautiful garden is an inspiration. Next year I hope to have more flowers amongst my veggies too. Thank you for sharing so much of you with us 🙂 Happiest new year to you my friend ~

    1. awwww…Happiest New Year to you! I loved that quote, too:-) Last fall, I put more host plants in my yard for butterflies + I am planting more “butterfly-friendly” plants for our little buddies:-)
      I look forward to see your garden!

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