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“The Art of French Vegetable Gardening”

Curious thing – Donny and I went skiing in the Italian Alps about 15 years ago, and I came home fascinated with the cliff-hugging, terraced gardens I saw on the bus ride from Lake Como to Bormeo. So, I found a book on French gardens…

Actually, I am fascinated with both cultures – art, cooking, style, langauge and always thought I would see both countries more extensively than I have, by now. But, I married a man who told me we would “look” at things when we retire; until then, we would “do” them. So, Florence was never visited while I shushed down the training slopes of Italian Olympians.

How I made the leap from the envying the grape trellises of the Alps to wishing to copy the structure of Versailles is not clear, other than this beautiful book I ordered from one of my book clubs: “The Art of French Vegetable Gardening” by Louisa Jones.

It changed my view on how my garden should look; it changed it from a Midwestern row garden to a “potager”. It changed me as a gardener – in fact, I think it created me as a gardener.

The Spring following our return from Italy was spent redesigning the 18′ x 30′ vegetable garden of rows into the plotted, raised bed, perennial-bordered, 34′ x 41′ Big Garden.

It is both too big and not big enough, depending on my enthusiasm: too small in the planning stages for all I want to grow, too large in the creation and clean up stages, and again too small when the plants I could not restrain myself from growing overshoot their boundaries – something that happens no matter how carefully I plan. Actually, I will not take the blame for that – it has to be the wonderful soil I have cultivated.

At any rate, it is again time to inventory the seeds that can be resown from last year, plan the map, order more seeds, and start the babies on my garden shelves. I can’t wait – truly time to Spring Forward!