Fordhook Farm, Our Garden
Gardens evolve over time. Gardens are created, and over time they become the vision of the gardener and represent the changing landscape of colors, patterns, and taste.
At Fordhook Farm in Doylestown PA, the historical farm of the Burpee Company, we have a diversity of gardens. Mature woodlots with understory shade perennial gardens. Full sun annual and perennial gardens. Ornamental gardens with sun and shade. Container gardens. And, of course, vegetable gardens in field rows and vegetable gardens in raised beds.
Each winter, our staff begins to plan, then plan some more, then we perform a final plan. Planning begins from results of the previous season. What plants did well, what plants can do better, what mistakes did we make, what can we as gardeners do better.
There really are not any bad plants, just plants planted in the wrong location. We loved our accomplishments of 2009, and had absolutely great gardens. We hosted 5 Opens where thousands of gardeners were given full access to our 50+-acre farm. We planted tens of thousands of seedling transplants, thousands of direct sow flowers and vegetables and planted nearly a thousand perennial plants to our existing gardens. Each spade or trowel that was pushed into the ground was the result of a well-thought-out plan.
In 2009, we greatly expanded our vegetable production. We had hundreds of new and existing tomatoes. Peppers were very successful, with many unusual shapes and colors represented, and hundreds of different flavors and heat levels of hot peppers. In early spring, we had a bounty of lettuces and leafy salad mixes. Potatoes were planted by the bushel and when early fall arrived, the harvest was by the truckload. Corn, beans, peas, cucumbers, squash, eggplant and herbs provided us with a bountiful harvest, enjoyed by our Research Staff, employees and visiting gardeners.
We garden for so many reasons – if you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. We garden to learn and share, not because we are a company, because that is what gardeners do, they share. Go to any of the thousands of social gardening forums and what do you find, gardeners sharing information.
Sharing was a huge attribute of our 1-acre garden at our Willow Hill nursery operation in Central Pennsylvania. Our staff at Willow Hill was charged with growing a full line of vegetable plants to gather specific data of yield and other cultural information. An acre of vegetables provided more than our staff could consume, our staff then did what all gardeners do best, they shared. The local food bank was in dire need of supplies, and twice weekly, our employees delivered fresh produce to the Food Bank. Donating to the Food Bank was the result of our staff knowing and understanding the community needs, and wanting to do something about it. We were delighted at the outcome, that our "gardeners" shared their harvests.