The Hedges & Hares Potager
Years ago I began a little vegetable garden with more pathways than there were rows to plant in. It was to be a destination… a place to go, to visit, to have coffee, bird watch or journal.
The lasagna gardening style mounds created what appeared to be a small family cemetery in our backyard for awhile- until the plants filled in. The mounds grew in number as the dirt continued to spill out of the edges. I eventually sketched design proportions on graph paper and set out to create a formal, permanent gardening space.
It’s now a sanctuary of sorts. A place to write, observe, visit and on more occasions than not- to do that meditative work of tending to the soul while weeding.
It’s the evolution of the Hedges and Hares Potager (kitchen garden). It provides more than we can use and spills over in the gypsy wagon farm stand throughout the summer. It may not be the most practical garden but it contains life and magic and it's always abundant.
Every spring it brings hope and opportunity. Optimism for what is to come. Every year the boxwood hedge that Joel, the kids and I planted on Mother’s Day fills in a bit more. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be the year that the hedge is big enough to keep those nosey hens out of my newly planted beds.
There is all kinds of drama that plays out in the garden. How many birds can fit and bathe in that fountain splashing around at the same time without someone going over the edge? Survival of the flappiest, I think. Will there be any water left when they fly away?
I can turn into a screaming lunatic within a moments notice when the cutest fat, wiggly, puppy chases a butterfly across all of my newly transplanted vegetable plants. Don’t even get me started on my free-range chickens and their evil ways or my other dog who pulls up my carrots and has the nerve to eat them while I watch yelling from the kitchen window.
I could go on and on. It’s March and I’m so ready for winter to be over. Adventures await.
How old is the potager/kitchen garden?
It began at a quarter of it's size as a series of mounds and paths in 2006. The overall assymetric design was completed with cedar raised beds and gravel in 2011.
Do you sketch your plantings every year?
Oh heavens no. I am a plopper of plants not a planner. I start my seeds using the winter sowing method and then walk out with my vegetables and annual flowers and start planting.
What are your favorite seeds to start?
Delphiniums by far! Once they germinate, they get transplanted to a fancy holding bed for protection for at least a year then they have to rough it in the border with the other perennials. The wind, chickens and dogs can make it quite a challenge.
I always plant speckled butter beans and okra as a taste of my grandmother's kitchen in MS.
Where did you get your love of gardening?
Definitely my mom! She is certianly my partner in crime. My flower show friends know her as Junebug. We would both rather have a new plant than a new pair of shoes! Half of my perennials came from her beautiful garden in Pittsford, NY. It's a passion that we continue to share.
My grandfather's abundant vegetable garden also made a lasting impression on me. Our freezer was always full growing up. Every harvest season I can't help but think that he would approve and be very proud.
"All gardening is landscape painting." Horace Walpole 1780