I went to Longwood Gardens for the first time on Saturday. Longwood is a 1,077 acre property that is known as one of the most extensive botanical gardens in the States. It is stunning, from perfectly manicured lawns to the lovely vegetable garden with little fences made of some crazy vine, and flowers in the corners of the veggie beds. Longwood is much like a museum: everything is in place, and it’s definitely an experience.
North Star Orchard is also a beautiful human-cultivated space. I spent today immersed in rows of trees sheltering blushing peaches and dense red nectarines. But there is a crucial difference between Longwood and North Star: the element of imperfection.
Here’s what I like about farms. The environment is controlled, yes– the trees are trained, the grass is mowed, the soil beds are dug, the plants are tenderly nurtured in the greenhouse– but there is also a wild chaos. A storm chases us out of the field, insects invade, a crop looks better than ever before, another struggles to fruit. Weeds sprout from everywhere, and we don’t even pretend to master them all. There is complexity everywhere; each plant variety has its own needs and difficulties, just like each of us on the farm crew have ours. When you throw all of that incredible diversity into one place, what do you have? Semi-organized chaos!
I’d like to go back to Longwood, to walk around, take pictures, and learn more about their plants. But I’m glad that I work at North Star, where every day, anything can happen.
Thanks to my Mom and to the Sheehans for inspiring this post.
I wish you all a delightfully complex weekend!