The French term potager expresses the beautiful, ornamental potential of edible plants.
A potager was traditionally a kitchen garden that emphasized beauty as well as fresh flavor. While you might find many of the same things growing in an ordinary vegetable garden and a fancy potager, the vegetable garden is more likely to have utilitarian rows of corn and potatoes and other “crops,” while the potager emphasizes eye-pleasing arrangements of fresh-picked beauties like lettuce, herbs, and even edible flowers. It might be helpful to think of a vegetable garden and a potager, not as distinctly different, but as gardens on a related spectrum. The vegetable garden at one extreme is entirely utilitarian. The potager at the other extreme might resemble the famous gardens at Villandry in France where blue leeks and red cabbages are planted out like annual flowers.
I lost my large vegetable garden with its picket fence and raised beds when we installed a new driveway here at Maplehurst. This year, I’ll be growing some of my own food again, but with a potager flare. I’ve identified a spot near our gravel terrace for four square beds. Here are a few of the eye-catching flavors I’ll be planting out in them:
- ‘French Breakfast’ radish
- ‘Cool Mint’ lettuce
- Swiss Chard
- ‘Lacinato’ kale
- Cherry tomato
- Beets (red and gold)
- Jalapeno pepper
- Mini yellow bell pepper
- viola (like the Johnny Jump-ups pictured above)
For years my words have mostly been poured into my books.
Blog posts became more and more occasional.
We used to talk to one another in the comment section of this blog, and other blogs, but now we talk on social media. Yet I sometimes feel we have less to talk about when we are only responding to an Instagram caption or a Facebook link.
My days of regular, weekly blog writing have ended, but I have been searching for some new way to serve you: my readers.
Is there some way to give you carefully crafted words beyond the books I am continuing to write?
Is there some place where we can still gather and listen to one another? Somewhere quieter and more peaceful than social media, somewhere more communal than my blog?
Friends, there is!
Paper&String isn’t a blog, and it isn’t a newsletter.
It’s a digital monthly care package from the Black Barn created–not only by me–but by a community rooted in this place, a community of writers and artists, dancers and dreamers, placemakers and friends called the Black Barn Collective.
In each new Paper&String, we will invite you to
We don’t simply want to share beautiful written words, gorgeous artwork, recipes, and other seasonal goodness inspired by Maplehurst–which we will!–we want to get to know you. We want to hear from you. And so, we will also be opening the doors to a virtual Black Barn. During the first week of February only, each subscription to Paper&String comes with membership into a beta online Black Barn community!
No matter where you live, no matter how many miles lie between the front door of this barn and your own front door, you can come in. You can join the Black Barn Collective. We can’t wait to get to know you.
Doors open but doors must also close if they are to shelter those inside. Enrollment is only open for the first week of February. We will open the doors to the virtual Black Barn again but only once we’re sure we’re serving our founding members well.
This is a story about placemaking around the table.
This is Chapter Ten of Placemaker in Christie’s own voice (can you hear a hint of Texas drawl?).
Our favorite thing about podcasting is sharing stories with you in our own voices. With Christie’s new book landing in reader’s hands in less than one week, this audio “sneak peek” is our gift to you.
So, put your feet up, pour the tea (or coffee!), settle in with a blanket or a small child (or both!) and listen to “Norway Maple: Placemaking Around the Table.”
Out of the Ordinary
The podcast for anyone who’s ever felt the nagging frustration of wondering if her life is too small, too boring or too ordinary to make a difference. Lisa-Jo Baker and Christie Purifoy, longtime friends and bestselling authors, explore the surprising ways that cultivating ordinary life leads to extraordinary stories.
Visit our official podcast page!
A writer and gardener, her favorite ordinary things include strawberry jam, homegrown flowers, and old books with someone else’s notes in them.
Find Christie’s books here.
A reader and writer, her favorite ordinary things include hot tea with milk and sugar, a good movie, her mom’s hand-me-down books and Sunday afternoon naps.
Find Lisa-Jo’s books here.