A decorative vegetable garden
In the Anglo-Saxon-speaking countries the garden is called the vegetable garden; this concept allows us to see the garden not as a plot dedicated only to the production of vegetables, but also as a real garden, where even the eye wants its part. Some gardens of ancient villas are more inspired by simple gardens than by cultivated fields; in contemporary residential neighborhoods instead we tend to see the gardens as disordered plots and not very pleasant to see, where the sole purpose of the plants is the productive one. But if we only have a small plot, we could try to harmonize the needs of the garden with those of the garden, mixing productive plants and decorative plants, or taking advantage of the pleasant side of the vegetable plants to make them protagonists even in the garden. Simply and trivially, a hedge of climbing tomatoes or red-flowered green beans can shield the summer lawn from prying eyes, providing us with the ingredients for the salad; but you can also dare more, by planting a rich and beautiful vegetable garden even in view, even when it is not in production. There are many decorative garden plants, just think of aubergines, with lilac flowers and leaves with purple veins, reminiscent of gynura, or fennel, with their feathery leaves. In addition to this, we can also make decorative the way in which to arrange the plots, or mix productive plants with exclusively decorative plants.
The most beautiful garden plants
The flowerbeds of the vegetable garden are already beautiful, if plants with beautiful foliage are laid out, which simply arranged in a geometric shape, or in any case ordered, give a decidedly striking glance; as we said before, some plants have leaves with a particular color, such as aubergines, but also courgettes or other cucurbits: large, very showy leaves, which resemble the large leaf aquatic plants. But practically all the leafy vegetables have a pleasant aspect, if placed in order with order and regularly; for example, head salads: there are lettuces of various colors, from almost yellow to deep purple, and also variegated or striped, such as chicory from Lusia, with white, pink and red leaves. Cabbage and broccoli are now also found in the flower beds, with their colored leaves, we try to place also in the garden cabbage of different colors, or cabbages with smooth leaves, interspersed with cabbage with frizzy leaves, for a better scenic effect. The chards, with their thick, almost silvery coasts, produce erect tufts, similar to those of celery and thistle; there are also beets with colorful, yellow, red or purple ribs, very decorative. If we do not want to play with colors we can dedicate ourselves to textures, fennel and asparagus are certainly among the vegetables that have very particular foliage, but also onions and garlic, with tufts of erect fleshy leaves, with a cylindrical section.
Let's play with the shapes
In addition to preparing showy and colorful plots, by planting plants of different types and varieties, we can also think of preparing plots of particular shapes; typically a vegetable garden is made up of quadrangular plots, sometimes raised, divided among them by beaten earth or grass sown walkways. A decorative garden can be obtained simply by preparing plots of particular shapes, for example round or oval, or lozenge-shaped. Or we can create geometries by placing different vegetables in contiguous rows, so as to enhance the diversity of the leaf, color, texture, height; simply arranging alternate rows of lettuces with different leaves creates an area of the garden that is more harmonious and pleasant. It is not so difficult to prepare original flower beds, it is clear that the rectangular shape is the simplest and most intuitive possible, but as we arrange the vegetables along parallel straight lines, we can also arrange them along parallel curved lines, do not change anything in the planting work nor in the garden care work.
The aromatics are a typical example of simultaneously useful and beautiful plants; often you don't notice them, because they serve in the kitchen, and then you place them in a small vase to keep close at hand; but sage, rosemary, thyme and marjoram are among the prettiest plants in the garden with colorful foliage and beautiful flowering. In the nursery we can now find erel rosemary, prostrate, dwarf, with white, blue or pink flowers; and sage is available with gray foliage, but also purple, acid green or variegated. Even the annual aromatic plants are very decorative, just think of basil, which is also available with red flowers, or bright purple leaves. As for sage and rosemary, the aroma of particular varieties is practically identical to that of the most common plants; instead basil and thyme have a different aroma than the color of the leaves: the violet basil often has a slightly anise aroma, while the light thyme has a lemon-flavored aroma. With aromatic plants, flower beds are prepared in the garden, but also in the garden, especially when the small piece of land is very small, which can remain beautiful and decorative throughout the year, without requiring great care.
Other plants in the garden
In many areas of Italy traditionally rose plants are placed at the beginning of the rows, in the vineyards; this practice was born from the need to use roses as an alarm bell for the arrival of pests and diseases; in fact roses are more easily affected by fidi and white mal than the vines, therefore, when the roses get sick, there is still time to do a preventive treatment on the vineyard. For a decorative garden you can get a wonderful idea from this ancient practice, and also place flowering plants in the garden. Besides roses will benefit the waterings and the fertilizations that we supply to the garden, and therefore we will have a flowered vegetable garden without great effort. Some plants, in addition to having beautiful flowers, tend to keep insects away from the garden, such as marigolds and nasturtiums, which remove aphids and nematodes, placing some seedlings in the garden can therefore also be useful to avoid indiscriminate use of insecticides; catnip (nepeta cataria) keeps aphids and bedbugs away, and you can therefore find a place among leafy vegetables.
It takes a little order
A beautiful, healthy and very productive garden is also a matter of order; because, when we advise keeping plants clean from weeds, we intend to do it regularly: if we let weeds grow freely in the garden, we will let them compete with plants from the garden for water and mineral salts; then the waterings and fertilizers, as well as the plants we are growing, will also be used for plants that we do not want. Besides this, a vegetable garden full of weeds is also ugly and messy. If we want our vegetable garden to be truly a vegetable garden, we will have to dedicate ourselves regularly to cleaning the flower beds from weeds, and to taking care of the vegetable plants, removing the damaged ones and keeping them clean from insects and diseases. Also the way in which we prepare the plots can help us, both from the point of view of the ease of preparation of the flower beds, and as regards the aesthetic effect; we can use roll grass to prepare walkways, or cover them with bark or pebbles; we can contain the land of the plots with branches, or tuff bricks. There are many variables, we try to maintain a certain uniformity in the preparation of the plots, to give a sort of vision of the garden together, so that it does not seem a simple jumble of edible plants.
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