When fate (in the form of a mole-cricket invasion) forced Martha Stewart to relocate her vegetable plot eight years ago, she filled the space with a different kind of sustenance: wave after wave of breathtaking perennial flowers. Today, the landscape bursts with a rainbow of romantic blooms from spring through fall.
“This is a garden of variety,” Stewart said of her perennial flower plot in Bedford, N.Y. Blousy roses climb tuteurs and arbors, spires of purple and pink lupines rise up regally, vibrant poppies punctuate the landscape, and chartreuse sprays of lady’s mantle spill onto paths. Animated with color and abuzz with pollinators, the 150-by-90-foot spread teems with more than 200 types of blooms. “I’m a collector,” she explained. “I love to learn by having as much diversity as I can.”
The expanse is an ode to Turkey Hill, Martha’s former home and garden in Connecticut, which itself was inspired by trips she made to Claude Monet’s at Giverny, in France. It originally grew vegetables, but she had to relocate them after an onslaught of mole crickets and set out to create her “dream garden” in their place.
And ever-changing. “I like to experiment,” said Stewart, who hunts for seed packets on travels and scours catalogs for unusual varieties. New discoveries join favorites saved from the previous year. Aside from tubers, bulbs, corms, and an occasional nursery find, she and her gardeners grow most varieties from seed, a practice that is more cost-effective than buying plants in pots and lends more variety. Of course, some experiments fail. Last year, Martha removed overly aggressive coreopsis and rudbeckia that were running wild.
“I love to see how the garden changes,” she said. “It’s always full of surprises.” A seedling pops up, giving rise to an unexpected combination, or a cultivar stretches its footprint. But the uplifting effect is constant. “It’s the last garden you see when you leave the property,” she said. “And the first one to welcome you back home.”
Wander in for a top-of-the-season tour: