Peaceable Kingdom Part 1 of 3

Folks have asked, “How can I mix annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs together in one space?”  The answer depends on your zone, the time of year you wish to enjoy your garden and the particular plants you prefer.  The secret is spacing things out so you can reach in and harvest the vegetables and herbs without disturbing the showy annuals and herbaceous perennials.  Shrubs take care of themselves, and you only need to mind their position and spacing so the taller ones don’t block the sun from the shorter plants.

This careful space allocation process is the essence of garden design.  A potager is a classic form of small, mixed-use vegetable plots. Well-edged, they blend nicely with perennials and annuals, depending on your taste.  The lambs lie down with the lions, so to speak. Play around. Here is a cool climate/season plan, recommended by Heronswood’s Research Director Grace Romero and horticulturist Bill Rein.  We’ll post midsummer and late summer/early fall in parts 2 and 3.

Vegetables: Asparagus
Beet ‘Bull’s Blood’
Swiss Chard ‘Golden Sunrise’
Carrot ‘Yaya’
Arugula Myway
Pea ‘Sugar Snap’
Pea ‘Oregon Giant’
Pea ‘Mr. Big’
Potato ‘Yukon Gold’
Potato ‘Swedish Peanut’
Celeriac ‘Diamant’
Cauliflower ‘Cheddar’
Beet ‘Chioggia’
Mustard ‘Osaka Purple’
Onion ‘Texas Supersweet’
Herbs: Parsley ‘Extra Curled Dwarf
Fennel ‘Florence’
Dill ‘Fernleaf’
Perennials/Woodies: Oriental Poppy ‘Allegro’
Viola ‘Amber Kiss’
Dianthus ‘Firewitch’
Delphinium ‘Fantasia Mix’
Annuals: Pansy ‘Autumn Frills’
Alyssum ‘Carpet of Snow’
Calendula ‘Oktoberfest’
Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’


This entry was posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009 at 5:34 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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10 Responses to “Peaceable Kingdom Part 1 of 3”

  1. Gary Bell said:

    The snow is still on the ground and the list of plants refuses to hurry to get leave warm settings

  2. Brenda said:

    After having just spent days planning out my vegetable garden, I’m trying to avoid looking at this. But it is in line with what I planned and is also an eye opener for a larger space I’ve avoided tackling for years. Thanks for mentioning shrubs (my favorite), but please include more, as they don’t get enough credit for being the glory of the garden that they are in my new england climate.

  3. jeanne b dozier said:

    Thanks very much for an interesting garden
    possibility! I’m going to incorporate a few
    in my herb garden.

  4. Joanne said:

    I so enjoy your linking, seasonally, the veggies to use for different seasons, but I would like you to have used zones as well. I recently moved to the Southeast and teach a horticulture class for a community here. Everyones veggie gardens failed last year due to unexpected 100 degree temps in April, and the fact that they area still coming off of a severe drought. They were also reporting to me that the season has changed and they cannot grow what they used to. Any suggestions in that area would be greatly appreciated.
    I am teaching Forest Gardening, which is another name for this procedure and it can look very good in any setting. Thanks.

  5. Sharon L said:

    My garden plants have to share space together as I’ve a small garden. Although I do have four raised beds I use mostly for vegetables, they do share the space with many herbs and edible flowers tucked in wherever there is space. The same with my flower beds – annuals, perennials, shrubs and flowering trees share the beds with some veggies and herbs and there are pots of herbs and even blueberries on my deck. I have also grown tomatoes and cukes in pots on the deck in the past. Everything shares whatever space is available and all – especially me – loves the diversity, the beauty and the abundance of flowers and food!

  6. mariann_ward said:

    This is exactly what I am looking for. Since I am talentless, could you suggest a good combination for a small plot. Maybe 8×8. I like buying preplanned collections .

  7. mariann_ward said:

    This is exactly what I am looking for. Since I am talentless, could you suggest a good combination for a small plot. Maybe 8×8. I like buying preplanned collections .

  8. Bill Rein said:


    I need a few more details in order to answer your question:

    (1) Is the spot in full sun (direct sun more than six hours per day) or part shade (a few hours direct sun per day) or full shade (no direct sun )?
    (2) In what climate zone is this 8’ by 8’ area (what part of the country)?
    (3) Is the soil there heavy clay that stays wet in summer/winter – or dry, rocky, or sandy?

    Thank you!

    Bill Rein, Horticulturist
    Heronswood Nursery

  9. Linda Pannullo said:

    I am grateful for the total approach to combining vegetables and fruits. The immensity oc choices sometime stymies me so I look forward to your suggestions!!

  10. Gloria Osterloh said:

    Can you give me any information on the ‘Ban’ tree that grows in southeast asia forests? It has spring blooming, non-fragrant, 3″ to 4″ flowers that are white, 5-petaled with a dark pink “blotch” on one of the petals. I found it covering parts of the mountainside in NE Laos and Vietnam in March.

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