I have read that as people began planting their food, as opposed to hunting and gathering, the first kitchen gardens began. With that in mind, we might call any place that we grow food a kitchen garden–what the French would call a potager. Yet, in my mind, a kitchen garden is a spot where edibles, herbs, and flowers are intermingled. On the other hand, a strict vegetable garden is a more utilitarian plot, where nothing more than rows and rows of things to eat are planted.
From what I have read, our early settlers planted kitchen gardens. When the Europeans first arrived in America, they found a wild and cruel terrain. Certainly, planting food was crucial for the physical survival of the first newcomers to America. I understand that herbs, fruit trees, and flowers were also part of the early gardens. The herbs, the fruit, and the vegetables were important to feed and sustain the body.
The flowers were planted to sustain the spirit.
In my opinion, the mix of edibles and flowers is still important, because man does not live by bread alone.
Hundreds of years later, many of America’s gardens have completely lost the apearance and purpose of its early kitchen gardens, but in my opinion, fancier is not better. I prefer a potager or a kitchen garden that is simple–elemental. I like the flowers, but I like for them to coexist with nature as nearly as possible.
My purple daylily and rudbeckias in July–I see no need to gild the lily. I am thankful for the lily, just as it is.
I don’t want to erase all wilderness. I want to coexist with it. I like to be reminded that I am part of nature’s design. By the grace of God, nature provides not only food to eat, but beautiful places to enjoy our eating.
The plan for the Kitchen Garden that I’ll add spring of 2016.