The ultimate kitchen garden.
A flower bed and a small lawn are standard fare in most gardens. But today's landscapes can be useful as well as attractive, offering fresh herbs, gourmet vegetables, luscious homegrown fruits, and vibrant flowers all within easy reach of the kitchen.
At Sunset's Dream House in Menlo Park, California, a large portion of the sunny side yard has been transformed into a kitchen garden with a layout designed by San Rafael, California, landscape architect Peder Pedersen. Just outside the kitchen door are four small planting beds, each bursting with herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
"Since the garden is located off the kitchen, it seemed natural to create a formal kitchen parterre," explains Pedersen. Two decomposed granite paths bisect the beds. At the crossroads is a gurgling fountain (from A. Silvestri Company Garden Ornaments, San Francisco).
Pedersen uses all sorts of tricks to make this small garden seem bigger. The path that leads from the kitchen (at left in photo on page 69) starts out 6 feet wide and narrows to 3 feet toward the back. "This gives you a greater sense of depth," says Pedersen.
A single boxwood shrub at the corner of each bed emphasizes the formality of the design. Beyond the beds is a sun patio; as the roses and lavender around it grow, they will create a "secret garden," says Pedersen.
Landscape designer Tisa Watts selected the plantings in each bed with help from fellow horticulture students at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California. "It's chaos within order," says Watts. But the color scheme is daring and intense. Purples, blues, and yellows mix with a smattering of oranges and hot pinks.
Plants are both functional and pretty Artichoke was chosen for its bold gray-green leaves and purple thistlelike flowers, and 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard for its colorful ribs. Crookneck squash, eggplant, herbs, peppers, strawberries, and zucchini mingle with colorful flowers such as catmint, coreopsis, marigolds, and purple coneflowers.
Each bed was planted around a tall focal point - a tepee trellis laced with 'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans in one bed; tomatoes ('Early Girl', 'Yellow Pear', and 'Super Sweet 100') staked on aluminum spirals in another bed, for example.
The beds are watered by automatic sprinklers for about 20 minutes every other day. Additional spot watering is done during hot weather.
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The unsung hero of this garden is the work center, designed by Peder Pedersen, which fits neatly into a triangular area beside the garden gate. Screened from view by its trellis and by 'Tuscan' and 'Obelisk' colonnade apples planted alternately, the center provides space for composting, cutting- and seed-starting, potting, and storage.
Pedersen designed three structures for this area. The largest (below, and at right in photo above) is a 130-inch-long potting center built by Siteworks of Berkeley. From the garden, the 89-inch-tall redwood structure looks like a fence.
The other two structures - a compost bin and a growing table-make effective use of a wood-composite decking material called TimberTech from Crane Plastics (800/307-7780). The product, which is made of sawdust and polyethylene binder, will not rot when in contact with damp soil. The compost area has three bins with removable front panels.
Plans for all three structures are available for $5. Send a check or money order along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Dream House Garden Work Center, 80 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025.