The Last You Knew

1stThe last you knew, we were in the thick of building this vegetable garden with raised beds-doing drainage, leveling ground, adding soil, and building boxes, working out the irrigation. We did get this garden finished and planted; it is starting to come on.

2ndThe tomatoes are growing furiously inside the steel obelisks.  We planted three apples trees, pruned into a columnar shape, with rhubarb and strawberries as an underplanting.  The twin beech trees, trained into an arbor, will connect this garden, with garden II-which is planned for next spring.  The acid washed steel plant theatre centered in the garden holds pots of lettuce, herbs, and flowers. �

The beech arbor is underplanted with asparagus-it will take a while for them to represent. Vegetable gardens are not ordinarily so formal; raised wood boxes are not necessarily so formal.  There is some talk of planting boxwood in front of the wood next year, but I like the idea of a simple working garden.  I think formal spaces are fine, along side working spaces. Villandry, in France, is a very formal garden, but there is something about how the vegetables are grown  that just suggests the farm.  I sometimes have conversations with clients who cannot decide if they want a greenhouse addition-or a glass living room.  These two spaces are very much different in tone and execution. A client interested in growing orchids under glass is a very different client than the one who wants a sunny space to read the Sunday newspaper.


My favorite part of this garden is that my client had name tags made for each box, with the names of his children.  I truly admire that he is trying to impart to his kids his love of the garden, and an understanding of what is involved in growing food.  This is a skill that’s very important to pass on.
My client has a a big love for formal gardens, and flowers. This garden is all about a working garden conceived and built, mindful of what manner of execution he likes best. This garden represents this-at stage one.  I know we will make changes, as he has a chance to look at it. But in the meantime,  each of his kids have to water, and look after their own box. It sounds to me like they have taken to the challenge.


The look of it is one thing, but how it works is another thing entirely.  I very much admire and respect what he is doing here-its a lot more than growing a few tomatoes.  Its about teaching what’s involved in growing tomatoes to his own children.  It helps me to sleep better, knowing children are being taught how to garden.  I feel sure that all over this country young people are learning how to farm, and how to garden.  How swell is that?

I Had No Plan

I had no plan to to talk about asparagus today-but there they were last night, poking up and already a foot tall.


Buck and I picked 10 stalks;  4 made it to the kitchen counter.  I know next to nothing about growing vegetables, except as ornamentals;  I do not cook and I have yet to ever read a recipe.  I have been in a grocery store maybe 4 times in the last 15 years.  I have worked seven days a week for the better part of 24 years, so a grocery store is not my idea of where I would spend my free time.   I would  just look at the cans with great labels, and imagine them planted with tomato starts for budding gardeners under the age of 9; Buck does the shopping and cooking.
aspar1 For better or for worse, I have planted my asparagus between my roses. I love how their ferny foliage masks how awkward and poor a rosebush looks, as a plant.   Though I know perfectly well how to plant asparagus roots in a trench, other people tell that story much better than I, in particular, Margaret Roach.

If you do not read her blog, A Way to Garden, I would encourage you to do so. She will tell you how to grow asparagus, and anything else you might have a mind to grow. Or prune. Or nurture. Or abandon-she addresses all her topics with a great eye, and voice.  She puts enough of herself out there to make anyone want to keep reading.  She is a great writer to boot.  I demand all my staff read her-and I give pop quizzes.  She makes it possible to learn something without feeling like you are taking medicine.

aspar4But I have to say the asparagus word today,  as its pushing aside the mulch and coming up like crazy-not on my schedule, but on the asparagus schedule.  Home grown asparagus, raw, with the end of the day glass of wine, or barely cooked;  even this peanut butter and butter girl appreciates the miracle of home grown asparagus.
Many times, driving in Michigan, I see old abandoned farms.  Sometimes the house and barns are gone. But if there ever was asparagus, it is usually still there. It is incredibly long lived, like peonies, and old fashioned lilacs.  As much as I admire endurance in gardeners (as Henry Mitchell said, “Defiance is what makes gardeners”), I also admire endurance in plants.   asparlast1