Expert tips on creating an edible garden
Recent research has confirmed what most of us long suspected – gardening really does make you feel better. However, the sense of wellbeing sparked by an outdoor space can extend far beyond the therapeutic effects of seeing your well-tended plants and flowers flourish.
By creating an edible garden, you not only give your garden a true sense of purpose but you also know exactly where your produce comes from. It’s like having a greengrocer’s in your backyard – with the added bonus of saving your pocket a few pounds in the process.
At the 2017 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, award-winning designer Juliet Sargeant will show how an edible garden can be both practical and provide a stunning focal point for any garden.
She was tasked by the Royal Horticultural Society to create a garden that would give people tips for growing their own fruit and vegetables, even if they haven’t got much space or are quite new to gardening.
“Quite often people think of vegetable gardens as something a bit messy you would hide away at the bottom of the garden or behind some screens,” says Juliet, who won Gold at the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. “I want to show that you can grow vegetables and still have a stylish garden.”
Her creation is now set to be put through its paces at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which runs from July 3 to 9. Popular BBC One show Saturday Kitchen will come live from the show on Saturday, July 8, while a spin-off series called Kitchen Garden Live with cooking duo The Hairy Bikers will broadcast live on BBC One every day of the show.
Si King and Dave Myers will be harnessing the ingredients of Juliet’s garden to conjure up some of their trademark culinary masterpieces. Containing everything from Pak Choi to melon, there will be plenty for the larger-than-life pair them to put in their pots.
The garden even features edible trees such as Betula pendula – better known as Silver Birch. The tree’s inner bark can be cooked and ground into a meal to provide a thickener for soups or mixed with flour for making bread and biscuits. Its sweet sap – which can be harvested in early spring by tapping the trunk – makes a delicious drink.
Viewers and visitors alike can also take inspiration from the clever layout of Juliet’s design, which uses complementary products from Marshalls Versuro range to create an eye-catching yet practical space.
“I thought it was important to use Marshalls paving because I wanted it to look like a sleek and contemporary garden. Paving is so important – both in terms of demarcation and for practical things like being able to get between the beds easily and comfortably, particularly with a wheelbarrow.
“I’ve used different sizes of paving so I’ve got setts and linear paving as well as some random paving. I wanted to make it into a pleasing pattern so you look at it as well as just walking on it.”
The patterns were designed to divide the garden into different areas. Versuro Sawn Linear in Golden Sand Multi was used for the long paths, while Versuro Sawn in Antique Silver Multi provided Juliet with the perfect look in the larger areas. Sawn Natural Stone Setts in Silver Birch went between the vegetable beds to give them an intimate feel.
“I think the one take home tip from this garden is that I’ve used the same stone but by using three different cuts you’re able to create variety and different pattern types and it doesn’t look chaotic.
“If you used three different stones it would look a bit of a mess but because Marshalls offer different cuts and patterns you can get the variety you’re looking for but also the sense of unity you want in a garden.”
For those looking to create their own edible garden, Juliet’s key tip is to be willing to try something different.
“The big thing is to be adventurous because there are so many different varieties to choose from. Even with something like tomatoes you can have climbing tomatoes, trailing tomatoes or bush tomatoes, and they could be red, black, yellow or striped. So don’t just think about what you’ve seen in the supermarket, do some research and be adventurous.”
Even if you can’t make it to the Hampton Court show in person you will still be able to see the garden in all its glory. Tune in to Kitchen Garden Live with the Hairy Bikers from Monday, July 3 to Friday, July 7 from 11am on BBC One.
Saturday Kitchen Live is running a series of ‘Grow Your Own’ recipe segments every Saturday at 10am on BBC One, culminating in a live broadcast from Hampton Court on Saturday, July 8.