Maryline Damour is the founder of design-build firm Damour Drake and of Kingston Design Connection. She is also passionate about gardening and a chef. In this series, she makes the link between gardening and interior design.
The past year, combined with increased awareness of climate change, has led many of us to focus on self-sufficiency. One of the best ways to do it? Grow our own food. Last year my own vegetable garden doubled in size when I became reluctant to shop in supermarkets. The change amplified my cooking, but it also made me think about how we approach gardens. Growing food is a convenient way to make your own resources, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be high-design; in fact, when designing vegetable gardens, I apply the same principles as when considering interiors. Here’s how it shapes my garden and how you can take the same approach.
Define your outdoor spaces
While we might not put drywall in place on the exterior, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t define spaces – and their materials – like you would indoors. In the gardens we have options for “ground cover” including gravel, grass and mulch. Each has its own particularity (the gravel gives a good massage to the feet, while the grass blends into the landscape). Exterior walls, on the other hand, can take the form of fences or plant material. In my garden, I designed a decorative and functional trellis fence structure: I plant zucchini, cucumbers and other climbing vegetables near this fence so that I can use it as a support as I go. growing vegetables (while also adding an element of texture to the fence design).
The wall also has a protective purpose: the lower half of the fence is wrapped in chicken wire and buried 30 cm underground to repel rabbits, groundhogs and other burrowing creatures.
Create a layout
While ceilings don’t play a role in most garden designs, a well-defined entrance is as important in outdoor spaces as it is in interiors. This effect can be created with a gate, a pergola or even a path that gently guides you to the garden and suggests the flow.
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Find the right arrangement
Another key aspect of the design is placement, ensuring that you have what you need where you need it. When it comes to home gardens, the first consideration is where you can get 8-10 hours of sun per day. Next, you’ll need shade pockets for cold-loving plants like lettuce and radish. Functionally, you’ll want a (functional) vegetable garden near the kitchen: if it’s nearby, you’ll use it more.
Use your garden as a pantry
We like to think of outdoor spaces as extensions of the house; in the case of a vegetable garden, it is the pantry where you store fresh produce. Plant accordingly, with staples that can be used in a variety of dishes, year round. For me that includes tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in the summer; in winter, it’s more cabbage and root vegetables. Planting this way helps to integrate your garden and kitchen better. And the garden does not need to sleep in winter either: throughout the summer I create pints of herb porridge (you can freeze them!) Made from chopped herbs, capers, garlic and a good olive oil. I use it to flavor dishes like ratatouille, as a vinaigrette base, or to spread on a sandwich.
Now that you have thought through the basics of your garden design, don’t forget about decorating. You might think that this gilds the lily since we already grow beautiful things outside, but a vegetable garden can be made even more beautiful with the incorporation of a few flowers.
For my vegetable garden, the biggest decorative element is the wisteria at the entrance, which blooms as well in spring as in autumn. Rows of lavender lead to the garden gate. When it rains, lavender and wisteria perfume the air with a sweet and delicate scent.
Inside the garden, decorating continues with custom steel brackets for the raised beds that have been left out of weather and rust. A sundial on a terracotta plinth is a classic look while lanterns punctuate the fence at regular intervals. The flower beds themselves are also an opportunity to be more designer: why not arrange your plants in pleasant patterns?
Being creative is about the way you see the world. Taking inspiration from what you love about your interiors will help you live as creatively on the outside as it is on the inside. Happy planting!
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