So few public gardens really focus on growing edibles. While the Berkshire Botanical Garden, in Stockbridge, MA, has an abundance of ornamental inspiration, they start you off with a very personal scale vegetable garden. Visitors tend to fall into two distinct groups: those who immediately cross the street and gravitate toward the flower borders and those who slowly approach the geometric vegetable plantings, wondering what’s growing in there.
I also have a small, personal scale vegetable garden5 and it is my first gardening love, so I fall into the second group. What intrigued me about the BBG’s garden was how small the individual raised beds were1. They were only about 3-4 ft. sq. My raised beds are 6 ft. sq. and filled with an assortment of edibles. The beds at the BBG each held a single crop2. It was so neat and orderly and, I suspect, easy to tend. The beds were quite full, so I’m sure I could plant enough for my needs, and it must be very easy to rotate crops. That’s something of a puzzle when you interplant in larger raised beds.
Since the boards of my raised beds need replacing this year, the smaller version is looking very tempting. I also appreciated the more subtle ways the BBG gardeners managed to sneak edible plants into their containers. Lettuce with begonias4, chard in the strawberry jars3. It was early in the season, but I can still imagine how gorgeous those jars must have looked in August.
Another thing you will notice as you linger near the vegetables is that there are small children wafting about. The vegetable gardens are used for the BBG’s Farm in the Garden summer program, which teaches kids the connection between their food and nature. Imagine. They spend time working with the plants and the animals at the garden and also making
By all means, cross the road to indulge in the Martha Stewart garden and all the other gardens that were bolstered by the hands of other famous gardeners. There is plenty of inspiration all around. But I wouldn’t be so quick to pass by the vegetable gardens, on your way to the picnic tables and restrooms.