Welcome to my butterfly potager garden! I entered it in this year's Hort Society garden competition in the "Outdoor Living" category. I didn't win anything and I didn't expect to - it needs a few years to mature and I need more time to take care of it. But here's what it looks like in late July and here's what the judges said about it:
Overall Effect and Appearance
- one judge commented that a pot on the table would make it more welcoming. Yes, I would have done that (and a tablecloth, table setting, etc) had I been home. Mental note to make sure I don't go on holidays during the judging period next time I decide to enter the competition. Here's the table with at least a nice table cloth on it which it didn't have during judging:
- another comment was that some vines on the fence would create more lushness. I disagree - I think that would take away from the framing effect of the columnar crabapple trees, which are only one year old and will get fuller in a few years anyway. Plus there's already 4 large vines (2 clematis on the house wall, 1 golden hops on the garage wall, and 1 honeysuckle on the arch) and 2 climbing roses (John Cabot and John Davis, each planted with a clematis) surrounding this small patio. Granted, the roses are still small so we will have to wait a couple of years to see their full glory.
- judges suggested some sensory elements (a small fountain perhaps? don't worry, it's already on my wish list!) and a focal point or special feature such as a specimen tree or shrub. Agreed, design-wise this is needed, but this area is also one of the only flat, sunny spots in my backyard and that's why I'm growing some veggies here. I don't want to fill it up or shade it with more trees and shrubs. Perhaps I should have entered this area in the "edible garden" category instead of "outdoor living"? Or maybe I should think about sticking a gazing ball in here...
- Judges commented on the poor condition of the "temporary stairs" nearby. This is one of many things I said last year needed to be fixed and it hasn't been done yet. Sigh.
- Judges did like the little raised beds for veggies I put in here. Hooray! Validation! I like them too!
- There was one comment on weeds in the brick patio. I thought I got rid of them all before I left on holidays. Mental note to not go away during the judging period next time... did I say that already?
- I got good marks for diversity of plant material and plant health, but comments were made about needing more bloom and more height variation to add interest, eg. a dwarf lilac or weeping caragana. Hmm. Again, for me this area is partially about growing vegetables. I had more height variation last year when I put in teepees for growing beans and peas. But due to crop rotation practices the beans and peas are in another part of the garden this year. I'll have to think about whether I want to sacrifice my veggie space for design principles...
- check marks for mulch, drought tolerant plants, integrated pest management, soaker hoses, reduced lawn area, rain barrels, trees/shrubs well pruned, composting
- lost marks for not being weed free and debris/clutter free. Like I warned you, I don't really have the time to get my garden up to competition standards. There are always a few weeds. But I was going for feedback on other topics and now I have a few things to think about which is exactly what I wanted. Thanks judges!!
To see pictures of this garden area at other times of the year, check out