Fenway Victory Gardens

diggerdee zone 6 CTJune 23, 2010

Wow, did I stumble upon a little jewel yesterday. Perhaps you all know about this, but I didn't and I was thrilled to find it!

I was in Boston for a few days, and walking the hundred miles or so from my hotel to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, and found the Fenway Victory Gardens. How beautiful! I veered off onto one of the paths and could not believe how gorgeous some of these plots were.

To me, it was especially nice because I've always found that many community gardens are primarily vegetable gardens, and while that's fine, they are usually more functional and in hot blazing sun.

These seemed to be - at least on the paths I took - more flower-based gardens, and there were many, many large mature trees. I even noticed that some plots were pretty much full-shade gardens.

There were ponds, arbors, benches and seating, grass pathways inside the plots - obviously many of these gardens were well-established and have been here a while. I stopped to talk to the one or two gardeners that were there and made sure to tell them how beautiful their plots were.

So if you are ever in that area, do stop to check it out. It's a restful, lovely, peaceful spot in the hustle and bustle of the city. If the entire walk was like this little segment, I would not have minded nearly as much!



Here is a link that might be useful: Fenway Victory Gardens

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Oh, thanks, Dee - you had to go and remind me just how ancient I am. . .:-)

There were far more vegetables than flowers when those Victory Gardens
were first inaugurated during World War II. . .and those on the Fenway were
just one of 30-40 other Victory Gardens scatterred throughout the city,
including one on the famous Boston Common (which was orginally a livestock
grazing area for the public). Since I grew up outside Boston, and our family
dentist was in the Fenway area, my mother often took us for a stroll through
the gardens, explaining their history and purpose. If I remember correctly,
there was one particularly avid, gentleman gardener (one of the originals) who had to fight tooth-and-nail over the decades to preserve the gardens -
he was successful, and today the Fenway Victory Gardens are a designated
Historic Landmark. How cool is that ?


    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 9:30PM
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Quite a lovely and unexpected surprise.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 9:38PM
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They're actually mentioned in the wiki on Victory Gardens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

They're one of only two original WWI era gardens that survive today.

I was disappointed to learn that they're mostly flowers now. There are gardeners all over Boston on waiting lists for gardens that would love to grow their own food and can't. The community gardens in the south end are the same way - peonies, roses, and lilies as far as the eye can see. While I love those flowers and definitely advocate a mix, I'd love to see food grown there again and either consumed by the grower or donated to those with fewer resources. Every little bit that we can do to eat locally grown produce is good for everyone.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 1:09AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I didn't realize the gardens are so extensive. I've gone by a part of them near the Fenway and it's just not an area you can park and get out and check them out. Thanks for the link, I'll have to see where they are more accessible.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 5:12AM
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A bit more World War II history. My Dad, then associated with the MA Horticultural Society and Arnold Arboretum had a five day a week, 15 minute gardening radio broadcast at 7:15 in the morning right after the news. It was his voice that counseled New England gardeners through the war years, answering their questions. I still have many of his radio scripts. And credit should be given to the Waltham Field Station for help and counsel given to gardeners during that time period.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 8:21AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

"...Oh, thanks, Dee - you had to go and remind me just how ancient I am. . .:-)..."

You're quite welcome, Carl! Any time! ;)

grrloutloud, as someone who is very passionate about the local foods movement, I understand where you are coming from in regards to growing vegetables. But I have to say, if I lived in a big city and had no yard, I would definitely use a good portion of any community plot I had for flowers. I guess if you wait your turn to get one of these plots you are entitled to grow what you like!

Personally, I think the answer to this is to have more community gardens! And the beauty of it is, they don't have to be huge like this one. Any old vacant building lot in the middle of the city will do.

In my old hometown (which amazingly was hit by a tornado Thursday - very unusual for CT!) residents have been taking over vacant lots for just that purpose. There have been some problems, obviously, since these properties *do* belong to someone, and recently the city tried to sell some of the lots to pay off back taxes. The residents fought city hall and somehow raised money or got backing and they were able to keep some of the gardens going. It was nice to see then win the battle!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 8:32PM
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Here's the photos from one of those Fenway Victory Gardeners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fenway Victory Garden photos

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 9:07AM
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grownaway(Zone 6)

I am a first time veggie gardener and my plot happens to be at the Fenway Victory Gardens!
So far I've really enjoyed both gardening, and the victory garends as well. If anyone is visiting the gardens stop by plot Z-1 and say hello to me :-)
I've also included a link to my gardening blog which documents my progress. Feel free to take a look!

Here is a link that might be useful: Grown Away

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 1:36PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Grownaway, how cool! My son is going to school in Boston in the fall, so I will definitely stop by again sometime in the next few years, lol! I'll look out for your plot and stop and introduce myself. Lucky you - living in a great city and gardening in that beautiful spot!

I will look through your blog more thoroughly this evening. I like the way your keep a running total of your harvest. That's a good idea to see how you are doing, and to compare to next year. Thanks for sharing your blog, and best of luck to you this year. Maybe I'll see you in September!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 4:14PM
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grownaway(Zone 6)

Dee - Definately stop by in September! I'm always willing to stop and talk with passers-by!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:42AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Grownaway, love the fact that you are gardening right in the middle of the city. That would make city-living so much better, being able to get your hands into the dirt on a daily basis! Like others here, I had never heard of the Fenway Victory Gardens, I hope to visit sometime this summer...

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 1:38PM
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grownaway(Zone 6)

Ellen, as I said to Dee - if you to plan on visiting sometime make sure to drop me an email. I love talking to other gardeners and passersby!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 1:57PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I just saw the two links to photos. Thanks for sharing, extragalactic and grownaway. Great gardens! I've always wanted to have a community garden plot because I would like more sun for vegetables, but I've long given up the idea, since I have my hands full just trying to keep up with my own yard. I still have a soft spot for community gardens. It seems like so much fun to garden right next to other gardeners.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 2:13PM
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aliceb_ma6(z6 MA)

Here are a few pics from my plot at the Brookline Community Gardens in Larz Anderson Park. I grow perennials around the perimeter, veggies (mostly tomatoes) and dahlias in the raised beds in the middle. Love walking around and seeing what everyone's doing.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 11:35PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Wow, aliceb, how lovely! Everything looks so full and healthy. What is that gorgeous hosta in the first picture, the one with the white edging?

How big is your plot? Thanks for the photos!


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 7:29AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wow, is right! I LOVE your garden plot! Gorgeous clematis and even a rose. I can tell you really enjoy your garden. How long have you had this plot and how far do you have to travel to work it? Which varieties of clematis are they?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 10:22AM
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aliceb_ma6(z6 MA)

Hi Dee & Prairiemoon2,

Thanks for looking! I do love my garden, it's been doing well this year, and I couldn't resist borrowing a digital camera and taking some pictures. The plot is about 11' x 25' and I've had it 5 years, slowly building it up (we all know a garden is never finished!). It's about a 10-15 minute drive from my apt.

The Hosta with the white edging is Liberty (the other two are Thunderbolt in the center & Stained Glass at the end) and the Clematis are Ruutel (dark red), Marmori (pink) and Betty Corning (blue). My poor rose (Caramel Antike) suffered from some sort of infestation (saw flies maybe) in the spring and is now almost gone from blackspot -- one problem with the community garden is it's hard to stay on top of disease & bugs, partly because I can't get there every day & partly because what happens in my garden depends so much on what other gardeners do (or don't do!)...

A propos of other comments in this thread, the difficulty of controlling all the critters who like the veggies is one reason I don't do as many as I might otherwise. In a gardening book I read once the author said, "In the garden, *someone* is always having lunch" & it is so true! The other day another gardener and I were standing outside a third person's plot and a bunny sauntered up to a bean plant, plucked a perfect young bean off and commenced nibbling. It paid no attention to our attempts to scare it off from outside the fence...

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 1:32PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

You've done a lot in five years, Alice. Really nice job! I like that Hosta 'Liberty' too and my favorite is that dark clematis, 'Ruutel'. Pretty. I had trouble with my roses this year. I had some small tiny green caterpillar chewing all the leaves and then I had blackspot too, so I cut two of them back to the ground. Two that were really awful because I didn't get to them fast enough. They are already showing new healthy growth at the base. I cut them 4 inches from the ground. [g] So I planted annuals around them to fill the hole for the rest of the season and next year they will have another chance to show me they can manage to bloom without a lot of fuss.

I hadn't considered the animal marauders you have to contend with. Especially like you said, you aren't there every day to keep them in check. I guess an electrified fence would be a nice addition to a community garden plot....lol.

Thanks for posting your photos....

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:49PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Alice, thanks for IDing that hosta. It is beautiful! And I must admit to feeling pleased with myself because I was right about the other two hostas, lol.

Your plot really is lovely, especially those clematis. I just bought a Betty Corning so now I know what I have to look forward to!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 4:38PM
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