Monday, September 13, 2010

A Vegetable Garden

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


  1. Pamela: I dream of a perfectly structured pottager, which is a laugh, since all my gardens are unruly. I have to start there, because after I arrived I would end up with the Scottish vegetable garden. Your writing always brings a smile to my face and a memory I have forgotten. My oldest and dearest friend is married to the landscape architect I posted this week. He's LSA to the stars, but very down to earth, and I am just glad that people with money have the amazing taste to hire him. As Hutton Wilkenson says: Every night I go to bed I pray, people with taste will get money and people with money will get taste! A lot of them are smart enough to get Ed. Thanks for the post,

  2. What a beautiful post. I too have lots of trees on my property which I simply adore but to have a community garden would not only be the only way I could grow vegetables but it would be fun to do this with a great group of fellow gardeners.

  3. How I would love a vegetable garden, alas I have such a brown hand! Everything just curls up it's toes and packs it in.
    Do I over not enough...
    The only thing I have ever had success with are cyclamens and when everyone else's stop flowering mine just keep going...and going...and going!
    I wish someone could tell me why!

  4. As you might guess, I have a similar lack of light.... and at this time of year I have serious sunflower envy!! I can grow kale, collards and other such greens in the forest here, and plenty of herbs, but some things are just plain out. Oh well.

    Lovely walk in the Scottish garden, and good luck with yours!

  5. Hi,
    It was nice to read about your garden and your trip to Scotland.
    A garden like that is a dream for me too. I want to have a garden full of beautiful flowers and lots of vegetables. Maybe one day...


  6. Dear Pamela, Community space for vegetable growing is an excellent idea and there is a surge in demand for such 'allotments' in the UK at present.

    Created around the 1970s and cutting edge in its time, the Potager at Barnsley House made by Rosemary Verey remains in my mind a jewel of a vegetable garden. Formal structure with deliciously good planting combinations, this would, for me, be the ideal. It has been widely photographed and written about so you would have no difficulty in looking it up.

    Whatever, these are exciting times indeed. Have a lovely weekend!

  7. Wonderful! Now you get to do the best bit during the winter, which is to plan it all...oh, and get plenty of muck on your plot now, so that the soil is well prepped for planting in spring.

  8. Goodness, I did a double take of the garden painting because I thought for a moment that you were going x-rated (at the top, anyway), but no, it was just light fabric, and I had overlooked it.

    I wonder how many people think about what they would serve Paul McCartney, and of those, how many are women? Men's fantasies about desirable members of the opposite sex are a bit....well, they are different, and I doubt somewhat seriously--but not exceedingly seriously--that most of them don't involve food. This could be why women are generally considered the romantic sex, whereas men are better known simply as the let's have sex sex. Of course, with all of that (sex, I mean) out of the way, men too are free to indulge their fantasies in the direction of food planning and preparation--or, at least, in the direction of eating.

  9. A sublime illustration of an equally sublime post. I wish you many happy gardening hours and memorable dinners.

  10. Good luck with your veg plot. My garden is narrow and shady and cold so we don't grow much. Its a battle of which I have spoken many times. Unfortunately I spend too much time sewing to be planting at the right time.

  11. Mrs Hepburn is ALOT of magic, never mind 'a bit magic' as he says in the video!! I so enjoyed watching it thank you so much for sending us that way.

    When my eldest daughter was only three we lived in South Aryshire within sight of the sea, it was glorious. Oh! how I wish I'd known about this wonderful lady and her gardens then.

    p.s. It still sounds weird when I hear 'Sir Paul' I still think of him as just Paul. ;)

  12. Delightful painting, and dear sweet Ladyburn veggie garden.. lovely inspiring stroll with Mrs. Hepburn... what more could one ask for with our morning coffee/tea. Thank you...

  13. You will love growing a vegetable garden in such a delightful shared space. Lettuce and spinach and kale should do well in your climate about now and you should think of growing sugar snap peas. I have such a beautiful memory of our first little garden, where I put in snap peas. Our daughter, then 3, would just go out and help herself, snapping them off of the vines.
    Thank you, Pamela, for the link to Ladyburn. I loved it! I adore roses, though they are a problem here with all the deer that wander about. The climbers are my favorite. They have such a mind of their own. This reminded me of how wonderful some of the garden programs were on HGTV in its early years. Sunday afternoons were such a pleasure strolling about in others gardens. Oh well . . .

  14. I love veggie gardens too Pamela and our freezer is bursting with broad beans, peas, courgettes, raspberries, plums - all sitting there waiting for cold winter days.

  15. I love the idea of a community garden. We used to be a part of one in NY.

    And the plump pony. Cute!

  16. Your writing in this post especially was spectacular! I always enjoy coming to your blog and relaxing with your words. Also, I love horses! Hector is adorable! :)

  17. Pamela, how perfect! There are some community gardens in our city and it is such a fine sharing of creativity.

    I have a New Giveaway from the French Basketeer I think you will love!

    Art by Karena

  18. Oh, that garden is lovely! I am sure yours will be as well. Are cabbages just the most delightful looking vegetable/flowers?

    Strawberries take up all the sunny space in my yard, so I love the farmers market too. I feel so rich when I come home... last Saturday my arms were load with sweet corn picked that morning, two foot long beans - green and purple, baby eggplant, huge onions, leeks, fingerlings, deep red peppers, monstrous carrots, and a butternut squash - first of the season. I opened a can of coconut milk and got out the green Thai curry paste and feasted!!

    I wish you fun with your new garden.

  19. Hi Pamela,

    Much luck with your garden, how wonderful when you are able to take fresh vegetables home.
    We started a vegetable garden but the soil is very clay like and no matter how much gypsum you put around, did not do any good. Getting water over summer was another problem too.

    Happy weekend

  20. If only there were more hours in a day! It would be wonderful to have time to grow the vegetables and prepare amazing tables of freshness from the garden. Ms. Hepburn's garden is just divine.

  21. I loved your photo of the veggie garden at Ladyburn...and then the video tour of the rose garden! What a delight it must have been to stay there for a while. Does the property have a B&B? So beautiful it makes me want to go outside and start doing some weeding:)

    And Mrs. Hepburn's hat! Love it!

  22. send Sir Paul by my way while you are at it.
    Have you seen the garden that Velvet and Linen created? I want that too.

  23. How wonderful Pamela! I've just spent the weekend in the vegetable garden - this truly is one of my favourite places on earth. Enjoy this magical adventure you're about to start. Leigh

  24. If I were your neighbor - I would gladly share my vegetables with you in exchange for your small pleasantries and an unconditional wag from Edward.
    Wishing you a happy garden and a "Hector" in your future. Horses like carrots too.

  25. I love growing vegetables and haven't bought any since about May this year, although I do often find that I am eating lots and lots of the same thing for a week or two. I suspect what grows for me on my welsh hill is similar to what will grow in Scotland. Hope you have a great time with this, it is totally addictive!

  26. Dear Pamela,
    Oh how exciting for you. I'm sure that you are itching to get a trowel in one hand and a packet of seeds in the other !
    I would think that, if you wrote to Jane at Ladyburn, she would advise you on what to plant and tell you of the delicious vegetables that she had planted when you were there.
    Sir Paul will be proud of you as would Linda if she were still with us.
    Lots of love and luck with your new venture. XXXX

  27. Sir Paul at the dinner table. Now there is an excellent thought!

  28. Kitchens gardens are so lovely. My mom has had one for as long as I remember, and the vegetables she grows are better tasting than any I have eaten anywhere else.
    Good luck with yours, Pamela. I know it will be spectacular. You do have the magic touch with everything you come in contact with.

  29. What one would serve Sir Paul - a lovely thought to go to bed on! At my house it would involve pears at every course of the meal, as my one little pear tree has given us bags and bags of fruit. I am impressed at the variety of what you have grown.

    And what a beautiful garden you have shown us here. Isn't there a Beatrix Potter look to it with those fat cabbages and the gravel path.

  30. Good luck with your new endeavor. How delightful this post was. he sense of anticipation and new beginnings was palpable. Reggie

  31. Dee-vine, dear Pamela.

    I know I'm a terrible correspondent, but I'm not a terrible friend.

    Some of our tomatoes are finally turning tomato red and the cucumbers are soooo happy, the courgette plants are less happy. (And even someone as un-clever as I can grow herbs.)


  32. Pamela...I think that Ladyburn would be the perfect site for a little bloggers gathering. How lovely would that stroll thru the gardens taking tea with Jane Hepburn. We would have to arrive with our finest wellies and raingear. Rain hats a must...I have been snapping them up lately. Jane and I could be twins in the one featured here. We could walk, write, take photos and draft up a plan for the perfect vegetable garden and.....

    There you go, your post did it again, sent me into another wonderful world. It would be fun though, wouldn't it?

    Many thanks for your birthday wishes Pamela, always lovely to hear from you :)

    Jeanne xx

  33. What a delightful outlook for coming seasons.... good luck with that little spot of yours, may your garden grow!


  34. How exciting for you; a new venture! Hopefully, you will find all the hard work worthwhile when you are eventually able to harvest your own vegetables.

  35. I tried growing potatoes (I had never grown them at all before) in a tower this year and had some success. About 2-3 pounds from my 4x4' patch. I am going to try again now that the weather is cooler as potatoes are technically a cool weather crop. Here is a link to the site where I read about potato towers if you want to try it.

  36. That picture of you and Hector (through the hedgerow keyhole) is so charming that it has distracted me from thoughts of vegetable gardens! But your dream garden reminds me of one that I saw, when out walking, several years ago. The only problem with veg gardens in summer is that we tend to be away too often and the veggies languish on the vine/stem. Probably a farmer's market is better-suited to my needs. (Having said that, I do hope you get your garden someday.)

  37. wishing you many good and healthy veggies coming from this garden:)


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at Thank you for reading!