A Vegetable Garden

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Vegetable Garden

If Sir Paul McCartney were coming to my house for dinner, I know just what I’d serve him.  Vegetables, and lots of them.  Here at The House of Edward, we have lots of vegetable dinners, especially in the summertime when the farmer’s markets overflow with the bounty of local gardens.  Our protein comes from crowder peas and pinto beans, and we feast on silver queen corn and half-runner green beans, fried okra, heirloom tomatoes, and baby lima beans.  Cornbread and iced tea.  Beautiful colours, and fabulous flavours.  I think Sir Paul, noted vegetarian that he is, would approve.

To be honest, I’ve never been one for junk food.  The “drive-thru” is not a place that I frequent and I can clearly remember the one and only Big Mac I ever ate.  I was a teenager and I didn’t like it.  And yes, I’m often been teased about my preferences... “oh, Pamela won’t eat that!”... “ oh, Pamela is here.  Do we have any carrots?”.  Doesn’t bother me in the least.  Having long ago made the connection between what I eat and how I feel, I know that a bit plate of lunchtime onion rings does not bode well for a bouncy, bright-eyed afternoon.  Some people crave fries.  I crave cucumbers.  Takes all kinds, I suppose.

Imagine my delight when I heard that our city was creating a community garden in a brand-new park they were building.  Now, hydrangeas and owls adore my garden, because we have so many old trees. But a vegetable garden requires sun, and lots of it, and that has been a commodity our wonderful shade trees have always denied us. So of course I signed up for my organic 9 x 12 plot immediately.  The community garden is now completed, and planting can commence, although I’m not exactly certain what to plant at present.  Autumn is fast upon us, so it will likely be lots of lovely lettuces, fat cabbages and turnip greens.  I have lots to learn and any advice from you vegetable gardeners out there would be most appreciated.  But I’m excited.  

There is a garden that stays in my head like a painting.  I wander inside it often, remembering both its creativity and beauty.  It was the garden at a perfectly picturesque old house in which we were fortunate to stay one September in Scotland.  The house was named Ladyburn, and it nestled like a jeweled brooch on the green land of the Kilkerran estate outside Maybole.  Ladyburn’s owner, a talented firecracker of a woman named Jane Hepburn, cooked us one of the most delicious meals in our memories and it was she who planted all the gardens surrounding the house.  The image of her kitchen garden, filled as it was with vegetables, flowers and whimsy, has stayed with me and will serve as a valuable template to study as I endeavour to create my very own replica here in the States.

The Kitchen Garden at Ladyburn

Of course, one of the most enticing things about the Ladyburn garden was Hector, the plump pony that lived just behind the yew hedge.  
Come to think of it.... I’ve always wanted a pony, too.  
But, I guess I’ll save that for another year.

Hector and Pamela


By the way, you can watch the delightful Mrs. Hepburn conduct a tour of her flower gardens HERE.

and, you can see more of Ladyburn, HERE

Painting above by Kay Nielsen