or the 2010 growing season BrooksideGardens ocused on the theme o
: what is it?; where does it comerom?; what, in act, do ood-producingplants even
(ever seen rice plantsin bloom?). Our displays approached thisuniversal topic rom several directions. There was a large“Victory-type” vegetable garden that eatured a successiono crops, companion plants that repel insect pests, andthat was intentionally NOT planted in traditional rowsbut rather more artistically. There were beds devoted toplants producing sweeteners; that showcased grain cropslike corn, sorghum, wheat and rice; that eatured ediblefowers; and some that were specically designed to showthat vegetable beds can be beautiul in their own right.We chose time-tested commercial varieties as well asnewer ones geared toward smaller spaces and with moreornamental appeal. We wondered (nervously) what oureorts would look like by August.With the season at an end, we took some moments torefect.
Which plants worked?
Red okra produced massive crops, with the shortestcultivar (‘Little Lucy’) being the best.
‘Ruby Perection’cabbage was showy and insect-resistant.
Cardoonswere dramatic all season.
Notable eye-catchers: lushhyacinth-beans (on a dramatic new arbor); rice in bloom,especially the red-leaed orms (
‘Red Dragon’and ‘Nigrescens’); Swiss chard with its beautiully coloredlea stalks; and the enigmatic, menacingly beautiul spiny-bastard (naranjanilla).
Which did not?
The tall okras (‘Red Spray’) proved to be too spindly oran ornamental display.
Since we chose not to spraypesticides except in extreme cases, insect pests decimatedthe rapeseed crop as well as lima and scarlet runner beans,all eggplants, and Brussels sprouts.
What surprised us?
Pineapples produced small butexquisite ruits, even though they hated the excessivesummer heat and our slow draining clay soils.
Swisschard tolerated the record heat surprisinglywell.
Rice is beautiul.
Stevia leavesare incredibly sweet when chewed.
Little animal damage occurred to our“crops” except rom chipmunks (and somewayward visitors).
It was quite gratiyingthat all beds overall looked quite showy even pastSeptember.Based on this season, we plan to continue the ood themein 2011 and 2012.
What did we learn that we can take orward?
We showed a wide range o plants to which visitorsrom many dierent cultures could relate. It wasascinating to the sta that the sight o some o theseplants appeared to spark an emotional response andcopious memories. There was a great deal o interestoverall, as evidenced by the common exclamations, “I’venever seen this grow” and “Is THAT where that comesrom?”
We were successul in showing that ood displayscan be surprisingly beautiul and long-lasting, almostwithout the use o pesticides or unusual care. Visitorsresponded to these ood crops equally as well as to ourtraditional foral displays o the past.
We were successul enough to be able to donatesignicant amounts o produce to a local ood bank.
We’ll modiy the composition o the beds based onperormance, appeal, and even the harvest rate.
We’ll change our vegetable garden around a bit toshow types o backyard-sized gardens with plants romour broad geographic areas: Central America/Mexico,Southern Asia/India, Asia, and the Mediterranean (Italyand Greece).How do YOU think we did?—Phil Normandy
Plant Collections Manager
Brookside Gardens Xperience
• Spring–Summer 2011
Food Theme: How didour Gardens Grow?