The Secret Veggie Garden
Edibles get a bad rap for being unsightly, but P. Allen Smith's Arkansas farm proves these beds can be productive and pretty. Here, he offers tips for a beautiful (and useful!) veggie garden.
P. Allen Smith's Secret Garden
Traditionally, we favor our flower gardens for their colorful beauty and our vegetable beds for their bounty of edibles. But combining both is something that garden designer, author, and television personality P. Allen Smith wants you to know how to do. Here, Smith shares with us some of the principles and ideas that help keep his vegetable garden gorgeous—even in the fall when beds typically start to look a little haggard.
Easy Idea 1
Buy your fairy-tale arbor at a feed store.
Don't want to build an expensive and complicated archway? Consider raiding a feed store or hardware store for inexpensive cattle panels instead. Bend the panels over a path, and stabilize with simple stakes like the arbor above. This simple solution provides a structure for asparagus beans to grow on and vines to climb. It also creates a shaded walkway from one side of the garden to the next.
Easy Idea 2
Punctuate your garden with colorful leaves.
A patch of bright purple coleus (visible here in the middle ground) acts as an exclamation point in a sea of green. It's mixed with a casual effusion of vegetables and flowers to create contrast in the beds, while stately cedar tuteurs add structure and formality.
Easy Idea 3
Treat pumpkins as sculptures and stumps as pedestals.
"Laying out a garden is a little bit like painting a picture," says Smith. "You want to have all of your paints in front of you before you start." Here, his "palette" consists of raised beds, pumpkins, and stumps, which combine prettily to create a tableau with multiple focal points. And the pathways between the beds converge into a single, dramatic burst of coleus in a simple wire urn. Creating several focal points ensures that no matter where you are in the garden, there's always something lovely to see.
Easy Idea 4
Hide your veggies amid pretty flowers.
Marigolds and zinnias dot this fall garden with merry bursts of color and can camouflage less attractive plants. But many leafy vegetables (like kale, lettuce, and cabbage) and flowering herbs (like chives, fennel, and borage) are both pretty and delicious. So as you plan, remember: There is no "wrong side of the bed" in the garden. By all means, go for a wide variety of flowers, veggies, and herbs.