First, let me say that I am not a Martha Stewart basher.

I was not among those who took glee in the fall ofAmerica’s Domestic Diva. I acknowledge that it seems that she can be quite, uh, mean-spirited and brutal on her minions. But I also recognize that she has made some significant accomplishments. She has created a huge empire from nothing. She raised homemaking to an art during a time when high-powered careers were more in vogue. I also think she has suffered mightily from some highly publicized personal embarrassments—an icky divorce when her husband ran off with her former assistant and a financial scandal that probably wouldn’t have meant jail time for most investors.

So it’s not as a Martha-basher that I have decided to air my disappointments in her new garden.


The March issue of Martha Stewart Living was my first look at her garden at Cantitoe Corners, Martha’s newest renovation, a 152-acre estate inNew York’s fashionableWestchesterCounty. The article, “Fruitful Endeavors,” features her vegetable garden and, according to the author, some “clever and innovative techniques.”

Frankly, I’m disappointed in Martha’s Fruitful Endeavors.

First, Martha has chosen to surround the 90 by150 feetgarden with a seven foot-tall metal fence that looks more like it belongs around her former prison home than around a vegetable garden on an “estate.” I understand the need for a fence of some height. After all, those white-tailed deer can leap tall buildings in a single bound, right? But why a metal fence? There are so much more lovely alternatives.


For example, how about the highly functional and also attractive fence surrounding the vegetable garden atMount Vernon? George Washington designed this beautiful fence with a brickwork base and picket fence top. Despite the fact that it’s over seven feet tall, it doesn’t look like a prison exercise yard. Rather, the fence adds architecture and grace to the garden.

Second, the article boasts about her clever use of rotating crops. That’s “clever and innovative?”


What’s more, it appears that the vast majority of the garden is laid out in rows, or, as the article puts it, rows in a “rigorous geometry to yield maximum results and easy access.”

Why maximum results? As far as I know, she lives alone. Is she feeding a small nation army I’m not aware of? If not, why is she sacrificing beauty purely for the sake of “maximum” production?


t seems that old George (Yes, George Washington again.) was feeding a heap more people, what with the slaves and all. His gardens seemed quite productive and also managed to be a place that you could tarry as well as toil. Why must a garden only be for work and production?

Personally, I believe a garden should be as much for pleasure as for produce. (You can see more of my garden here.)


Finally, I see NOT ONE SINGLE PLACE TO SIT in her garden. Surely she must have a lawn chair stashed somewhere that she drags out when the photographers go home, right? And you know I value a place to sit in a garden.

Too bad about Cantitoe Corners. With Martha’s talent, money and hoards of help, her garden could have been something to rival the gardens of the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

I’m sorry so say, Martha has let me down.

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  • cloverann says:

    No bench?!? Surely she must want to sit and admire the rigorously geometric rows? I would.
    I anxiously await Martha’s comments…

  • Melanie says:

    I had that magazine in my hands today, I’m glad I didn’t buy it after all.

    Nope, that garden didn’t inspire me at all, there are so many lovely potagers out there that are productive and lovely to look at, at the same time.

    As for the fence, well, I’ve been posting about fencing all week, YUCK!

  • Kylee says:

    Wow. I’m disappointed, too. I really enjoy Martha and I too feel she could have done much better than this.

  • kate says:

    Interesting to see what Mme Stewart is up to these days. I never read magazines so miss out on all of these things. (I’d rather read blogs)

  • It does look like a production-oriented garden. Even more like a test garden. If you’d like to see a vegetable garden of color that was designed as much for enjoyment as vegetables, please visit my post on Villandry:

  • I agree, that is one boring garden. Rows? No seating? Geez, even with my lack of style, I know enough to have a place to sit and to mix it up a bit. She could do a whole lot better with her minions and money.

  • Angela says:

    Oh please…how much of the gardening is Martha even doing? You know there’s a massive team of people keeping all that up.

  • I was definitely disappointed too – I look to Martha for covetable lovlies and this regimental garden just wasn’t up to snuff. I wish she had mentioned who she (I mean her staff) might be feeding – I would like it better if she was efficiently providing for 10 women’s shelters or 5 soup kitchens. And seating in garden like that? Perish the thought. No sitting down on the job! (Besides, there’s no shade.)

  • Curtis says:

    Surely everyone has some sort of sitting in a garden. I might not have a garden bench in my veggie garden(something I would like to change this year) but at least I have some chairs and a bench in my front garden. I even have 2 lawn chairs stashed in my garden shed for sitting and enjoying the veggies.

  • jodi says:

    I’m not a Martha basher either…I just don’t care about her highs and lows one way or another. This is simply a boring garden, as you say, and you give a thoughtful critique of it. And like others, I wonder what she’ll do with all the produce. Perhaps make origami swans out of cabbage leaves? Napkin rings braided from the roots of tomatoes? The mind boggles.

  • Diana says:

    Ditto – I have the magazine and wondered about that huge metal fence. Not attractive or in keeping with her normal sense of style at all. As for her sitting in the garden…do you really imagine she ever “sits” at all? I’m not sure she even sleeps with all she squeezes into her life. Your photos of the Washington garden are beautiful — I love the fence, especially. My garden fence is hideous compared to that, but it WILL be pretty when I’m done with it! There is painting and hanging of plants and doo dads in its future!

  • It’s very drab…maybe the weather was not in the photographer’s favour?

  • David Perry says:

    Robin, when you’re right, you’re right.
    Nicely stated case. And Jodi, the picture your words conjured up: “Napkin rings braided from the roots of tomatoes. . .” Priceless!

  • I’m glad to hear there’s someone else out there who’s *not* anti-Martha. But I agree whole heartedly with your assessment of her garden. I can understand when someone has to make a budget decision (like on the fence)–but Martha not only has the cash, her whole “thing” is doing things beautifully. So my only reaction is, “Wha???” And yes, I too, would like to know where all that food is going.
    ~Angela 🙂

  • You folks really are making me laugh here. For a bunch of folks who don’t claim to be Martha bashers, we’re doing a pretty good job on her garden!

    Maybe one of us should write a letter to the editor and ask what she’s doing with all that food. I mean, a gal can only each so much zucchini. I’m curious to know who she’s sharing it with.

    Robin at Bumblebee

  • ewa says:

    Thank you for bringing it up. I think its a shame on Martha to present garden like this. Many do not like her, but I believe that many try to follow – in such case don’t you think there is kind of public responsibility? or maybe I am too idealistic?

  • Kate says:

    Totally agree with you about Martha. I was one of the first subscribers to her original magazine way back when and loved it. I’m not the gardener you are, Robin, but agree that Martha has a lot of strong points. But this garden endeavor is rather fruitless.

    I would like one of those origami swans made of the cabbage leaves, though. Just for posterity’s sake . . .

  • Nan says:

    Great posting! I may be the lone fan of that garden. :<) I actually like those north to south rows. This is the way all gardens used to look, though not so big of course! Now there are lots of different ways of gardening from wide rows to separate plots inside boards. There are beautiful designs and paths, but when it comes right down to it, I like a vegetable garden that is orderly and in rows. And I even found the fence appealing, if indeed it is keeping out deer and rabbits. Happily, I don’t have any problems with them but those who do must suffer such discouragement. As for sitting, I have a couple chairs next to the veg garden, but my relaxation sitting is more in the flower gardens. My guess is that Martha’s flower areas are quite different, but I could be very wrong.

  • i love your garden. thanks for sharing its photos.

  • wow. now, i want to have my own garden. 😀

  • me too. i hope i woulf do good.

  • I’m so incredibly disappointed in Martha.
    Why did she take the inexpensive way and use a middle class style metal fence.
    Shame, shame shame. She should of opted and had the same fence the George Washington’s slaves made from him, that by current day construction estimating standards would cost over $ 200.oo per foot to build.
    what a waste.