The King's Garden at Fort Ticonderoga

Tuesday, June 2, 2015



As promised in my last post, I'm back to share with you my favorite piece of Fort Ticonderoga - the King's Garden.  This is what I'd refer to as the consolation prize for all the women who graciously tag along with the history-loving men in their lives, and What a Prize it is!  In fact, I would not be at all surprised if some women come here just to see the garden.  It is really that good!  So sit back as I take you on a little tour of the most colorful corner of Fort Ticonderoga!
 
The King's Garden at Fort Ticonderoga is the oldest garden in North America and the largest public garden in the Adirondack/Lake Champlain Region.

The first garden planted here, the garrison garden, was planted by the French in 1756; a garden to feed the troops called the le Jardin du Roi (The King's Garden).  This garden would supplement the soldiers' ration of dry breads, meats and bland items and provide fresh vegetables to help keep the soldiers healthy.  The garden was quite large - about the same footprint as the fort.  Not only did the harvest feed the soldiers, the garden itself was maintained by the volunteer soldiers who would be paid extra for their work.  By the turn of the century, like the fort, the Pavilion and it's grounds were neglected and in ruin. In 1920, Stephen and Sarah Bell hired Marian Cruger Coffin to redesign the walled garden.  Marian, a 1904 graduate of MIT, was one of the first American women trained in landscape architecture.   Her vision was to create a garden that when viewed from the porch of the Pavilion (the Pell's summer home), the overall effect would be that of a Turkish carpet with colors and patterns arranged in repetition, mirroring one another and flowing seamlessly together.  In the center of this sea of colorful arches and curves stood a reflecting pool.   By 1988 the family no longer used The Pavilion.  The garden became dormant while restoration of the fort took precedence.  In 1997 the Fort Ticonderoga Association began restoring the garden using Coffin's surviving original detailed plan. (Information relayed here was loosely borrowed from the official garden brochure.)
Today the King's Garden features five gardens including a Children's Discovery Garden, a vegetable garden, a 3 Sisters Garden (where corn, beans and squash are planted together the way the Native Americans grew them) and the Colonial Revival Garden, which is mostly what I am featuring today.  Since we visited so early in the growing season, the other gardens were still in their beginning stages.  What a good excuse to go back!
Last restored in the late 1990's, The Revival Garden features 32 garden beds where 267 different varieties of plants are grown including annuals and perennials.  Although Ms Coffin's original garden layout was used in its design, not all of the original plants were still available, so newer varieties were substituted.  But......there are still some of the bearded iris left, dating back to the 1920's.  I can attest that the iris were exquisite!  See for yourself...........




 In addition to the gorgeous iris, the poppies were striking!
 
 

as were the peony.....
 
and Columbine....






And here's a little peak at the wider perspective of the gardens......
 Can you imagine this view in another few weeks?   Wow!

 When these peony open, it's going to be breathtaking!!

 The Pavilion - the Pell Summer Home
Pretty outrageous, right?   And only a fraction of the garden was in it's prime!  I can't wait to go back to see it later in the season and to take a ride on the Carillon tour boat for a 90 minute, narrated ride around the Ticonderoga peninsula.  Boat tours begin in July and are available through Columbus Day weekend.  Check the fort website for more information.  If you haven't seen enough and need a little more convincing, check out this video from the fort's website for a great narration of what the fort and garden offer its visitors.....
Thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It.  Please use the links below to share this post with a friend through Facebook, Pinterest, Email or Twitter.  


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