When I was a girl, you grew flowers in a flower garden, vegetables in a vegetable garden. Never the twain did meet — at least not if you were in tune with fashions of the day. But there is a long history of growing companion crops, and today flowers and vegetables are often grown together, to the benefit of both.
So I was not surprised to see vegetables at the Reford Gardens in Métis, Quebec, growing alongside annuals and perennials in the vegetable garden. Rather, I was delighted.
The combination of the two was so well done, and the vegetable garden was so well placed, not part of the glorious flowery garden created by Elsie Reford in the 1940s-1960s, but set off to one side, across the brook that runs through the historic garden, in an area of its own, near picnic tables and play equipment for children.
The vegetable garden is enclosed within a white picket fence that creates a homey, old-fashioned atmosphere that feels exactly right. Inside and outside that fence, flowers and vegetables grow comfortably, side by side.
No, more than comfortably. Beautifully.
I was taken by the strong contrasts of colour (above) and the use of cottage plants like the hollyhocks and sunflowers (below).
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) filled one corner.
But my favourite area was near the entry, where black-leafed kale was combined with hydrangeas and tiny onions just beginning to flower
Inside the fence, I spotted some unusual annuals like the ones below. Are they pansies? They look like it but I’ve never seen pansies with this combination of colours, one I like very much.
The garden is obviously a great pollinator. Bees were buzzing with excitement, as were some of the visitors.
I saw much to admire during my visit to the Reford Gardens, too much to include in a single blog post. A second post — or even a third — is in the works. So keep tuned!
And keep an eye out for my new book, Autobiography of a Garden. It’s available online through many sources and at good bookstores everywhere.