Fragrant lavender edges sunny paths in the King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York, which we visited at the end of June. The name “King’s Garden” is a bit misleading because this formal, ornamental garden did not exist when the French built the nearby fort in the mid-1700s, nor when the British took it during the French and Indian War, nor when patriot Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys took it during the Revolutionary War, nor when the British took it back two years later. What did exist during the tenure of three occupying armies was a large vegetable garden that provided fresh produce for the troops. According to the fort’s website, soldiers did gardening duty, growing lettuces, turnips, squash, radishes, and other supplements to their daily ration.
In the 1920s, Stephen and Sarah Pell bought the property adjacent to the ruined fort and hired landscape architect Marian Cruger Coffin to design the walled garden that, thanks to a 1992 restoration, is open to the public today. The Pells opted to keep the name that the soldiers of more than a century earlier had called their garrison garden.
Today, old-fashioned hollyhocks and delphiniums stand tall against the brick walls, giving a cottagey look to the periphery of this French-style garden.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying the garden. These Japanese beetles were busy making more beetles.
Crabapples (I think) create shady parterres at each corner of the garden, while an open lawn and a fountain anchor the sunny center.
Arched openings in the walls lead out into the surrounding meadow and woods. This image, however, is of a view back into the garden.
One of the gates opens to a nearby birch tree, whose white, striated bark vied with the garden’s flowers for my interest.
A peaceful view.
Out the main gate you enter an allee of Lombardy poplars, enjoyed here by a trio of costumed reenactors. I couldn’t help wondering who these people are who spend their weekends in costume, pretending to live in another era. History lovers? Frustrated actors? Hundreds of people were in costume at the fort while we visited—unpaid volunteers, some with spouses and children in tow and in costume. I spoke with several of them, asking why they did it. One answered that he loved camping outdoors in primitive conditions and enjoyed the people and the lifestyle. He traveled from one historical reenactment to another, amassing a number of costumes for each occasion. It amazed me, but it made for a fun and educational visit.
All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.