What is it?
What does “productive garden design” mean for me, personally? Is it a garden with a vegetable patch? Maybe some fruit bearing trees thrown in? Having edibles secretly injected into your outdoor spaces? Or is it something practical for the family with young kids to forage through and discover the bounty of nature? Does it need to be aesthetically pleasing? What about inviting wildlife into the garden?
For me it’s a customised amalgamation of all of the above. What it eventually gets designed to be is governed by which aspect of the above considerations play the bigger role for the client brief.
A case study on point!
Probably the most challenging design I’ve ever embarked on is the rejuvenation of my mum’s garden in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!
Here’s a little snippet of the thought process and design considerations I had to ponder over.
Thankfully the brief was simple.
The end result needed to be low maintenance garden that would suit the needs of a long time but elderly gardener but look spacious, GREEN and have as many productive spaces as possible.
Maintenance of the garden was also a key consideration given how elderly mum is, so gentle negotiations were had as to how much could be outsourced!
Kuala Lumpur - Papaya
Kuala Lumpur - Lime/Limau Kasturi
Kuala Lumpur - Brinjal/Eggplant
Kuala Lumpur - Mulberries and Green Pumpkin
What it is now
Now we’ve created 4 garden layers and rehabilitated the grassed area somewhat.
The first layer
These are the Trees. They are mostly fruit but there’s 1 ornamental palm which has been retained for sentimental reasons.
We planted tropical fruit trees and which are in different stages of maturity. So we’ve planted papayas, bananas, the miracle/drumstick tree, starfruit, avocado, guava (pink and white), curry leaf and the noni.
The second layer
The second is the undergrowth. This consists of tulsi, mulberry bushes, various types of chilly plants, brinjals, surinam spinach and pandan.
The third layer
Groundcovers make up the third layer. These are mainly young seedlings, serai/lemongrass, zuchini, asian greens, and the thai coriander.
The fourth layer
And lastly, all vertical surfaces including the unused clothesline and fences have been overtaken by different types of fruit bearing gourds and climbers!
Yes, it sounds a bit like a food forest but that’s the idea. Organic, pesticide free fruit and vegetables are in abundance and mum only needs to hit the shops for the bare necessities like milk and bread.
Another thing – the grassed area was important for aesthetics but has a dual function – mom walks a lot for exercise and we use the cut grass as mulch and fertiliser.
Yikes - sounds like it's a lot of work!
Is this garden style for you?
So having a highly productive garden which looks neat is possible. It is not a wow or show garden but it is a practical one that meets the family’s needs.
Do try it if this garden style sounds like you. You will have lots of delicious food to eat on top of other health benefits like being outdoors and getting some exercise!!
Anyway I could go on lol. But I’ll leave it here.
Vermont South A
Our passion your garden! xx