Suburban Kitchen Garden

This Atlanta garden combines lip-smacking produce with eye-popping color.
Story by Steve Bender and Rebecca Bull Reed

Setting: A small backyard in Atlanta
Designer: Keith Summerour, Summerour Architects; summerour.net
Size: 12 by 35 feet

If the owners of this little garden love anything as much as eating what they grow, it's entertaining friends and family outside. So a wild veggie patch exiled to a far corner of their formal garden wasn't an option. They needed a small plot of earth with uptown appeal.

The Big Idea
Don't hide your garden—show it off! Atlanta architect Keith Summerour leveled the formerly sloping site to accommodate a formal parterre-style garden. By locating a metal-roofed folly in line with both the front and back doors of the home, he created two outdoor rooms—a symmetrical central lawn bordered by parterres and a narrow side garden for growing vegetables and herbs. Clipped 'Nellie R. Stevens' hollies and boxwoods form the walls. A trio of large rolled-rim pots containing boxwood topiaries, peppers, and herbs anchors the edible garden. Four rustic wooden tuteurs in the corners support eggplants and tomatoes. Filling the space around them are plants offering seasonal color such as wax begonias, zinnias, coleus, and sweet potato vines.

The Materials
This garden is organic all the way. Container plants thrive in Atlanta-based Farmer D Organics Biodynamic Blend Planting Mix (farmerd.com), and Farmer D Organics Biodynamic Blend Compost enriches the soil in the beds. Even the pulverized bark mulch is organic.

Time and Energy Savers
An automatic drip-irrigation system waters the pots. A thick layer of mulch atop the beds keeps down weeds.

Get Started
If a parterre garden seems like too much for you, begin with a small rectangular herb-and-veggie garden bordered by clipped boxwoods or a less costly boxwood look-alike called germander. Plant quart-size pots of this woody herb 1 foot apart.

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