March 29, 2015

Our Kitchen garden extension (The Boutique Allotment Plus)


Ha Ha, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for! You may recall my previous blogs about my love of kitchen gardens, both designing them and managing them! This passion includes advising clients and designing their kitchen gardens. You may also recall my award-winning show garden at Grand Designs Live with the theme: Urban Kitchen garden.


I have also spoken on here about the creation of our boutique allotment and that size isn’t everything!

Poppyheadexisting jpgWell, now for something completely different, as of January 2015 we are the proud owners of an additional allotment plot, as it happens, adjacent to our existing plot on the other side of a main path. In land terms, we have gone from a 65 m2 plot to just under double that! Its not huge but it is no longer tiny either! We manage a crop rotation system on our existing beds and grow some of every group of vegetables. We have also tried to squeeze on some fruit and a few flowers, but there is a limit!   So the obvious things to grow on this new area of land are of course, flowers and fruit! This blog shares some of the plans and work done so far and those for the future.


We plan to re-use the existing raised beds on the area (oddly enough, designed by me for a different project although much in the way of soil and conditioner will be needed to make these beds usable!) to grow a variety of fruit: More blackcurrants (we already have 4 plants in huge rainbow trugs on the boundary of our existing area), summer raspberries (we have autumn raspberries on part of the other plot), strawberries (we have never had room for a reasonable size bed of these) and, joy of joys, trained fruit-for the first time on our plot!- cordons, fans and espaliers are all possibilities and apples and plums are the preferred fruit so far.   For now, we will cover these beds and get them prepared for later in the year, when we can use bare root plants.

Flowers for cutting

Of course the boutique allotment wouldn’t be boutique if it wasn’t for colourful flowers and attractive materials use! Until now, I have had limited room for flowers but have included Old fashioned variety sweet peas, Velvet Queen flowers, nasturtium and Love-in-a-mist, alongside herbs such as the stunning Dill and climbers such as honeysuckle.


Now we have acquired additional space, the top end of the area is to be given over to flowers. I have talked about the importance of flowers to provide food for the bees in a previous blog and I hope to be able to create food for different times of year with a mix of perennial and annual flowers. This first year however, I am focusing mainly on trying a few annual flowers that I hope will give me flowers for cutting as well as for the bees, the selection is that which should come again after cutting so increasing the yield and I have sourced them mainly from Higgledy Garden (check out their different mixes).   Here are the main varieties I will be using:   I will also include a few perennials: Verbena bonariensis, Foeniculum vulgare and Cynara cardunculus .   The annuals are a mix of half hardy varieties which I am starting off in the polytunnel and hardy annuals, some of which I will try directly in the ground as an experiment.   Of course I haven’t planted any in Autumn so they may be late in flowering and I am very worried about slugs and other creatures that may devour them! I will talk more about the actual  growing of these flowers in another blog.


So far we have created a rather ingenious U shaped bed for the flowers, approximately 4 m long and with 1 m wide arms, with a 0.5 m pathway down the centre. This should optimize our space for growing. We have incorporated good top soil and organic matter and as of a couple of days ago, graveled all of the paths on this new half of the plot to provide a surface easy to walk on and easy to weed.   Some of the seeds are already sown in the polytunnel and we are almost ready for season!  I look forward to updating you further as we develop this new plot.



I am a Chartered Landscape architect and garden designer with a keen interest in contemporary spaces, roof terraces, courtyards and kitchen gardens as well as all manner of garden and landscape projects.  I  blog regularly about aspects of garden and landscape design and growing food on our boutique allotment.  You can also follow me, Liz Ackerley on Twitter @poppyheadC,  or like our facebook page  where you will find lots of tips and ideas related to gardens.  Also check out my projects and approaches to design here on my website:



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