On Their Farm They Had a Buddha… and a Berry Patch

One of the most talented gardeners I know is Rich Kiamco, an actor and comedian who shares both a house in Jersey City (with city garden) and a county house in the Catskills (with farm) with environmental/graphic designer David Gibson. Rich writes:

The Anna Nicole garden in Jersey City

“The city house is a 1911 wood frame colonial revival on a 150 x 37′ plot. It’s the Victorian city planners’ version of a McMansion. In those days, they built houses ten feet apart with little strips of land between, and front and back lawns, which were retrofitted with driveways and rear garages after cars were invented. We tore out our front lawn and put in all flowers. It looks kinda like an Anna Nicole Smith blouse, busting out with floral excess. We still haven’t decided what color to paint the house. Two “designers” + historic house (w/bad paint job) = drama. Mediator, please!

“From what we’ve been able to find out from the deeds to the land, the country house in Ferndale was built in the early 1800s. The original, rear, section of the house is from the 1820s, connected to the more ornate 1840s Greek Revival front—grand in scale with pilasters and a ceiling medallion—via a crumbling little room with a quaint little two-by-three-foot door. David thinks of the funny door and crumbling room as manservants’ quarters. I think of the movie “Being John Malkovic,” with its 11½th floor, but with architectural salvage bits and stuff strewn about.

The farmhouse at Buddha Barn in the Catskill town of Ferndale, NY

This 8-foot hollyhock was grown from seed that Rich says, “fell into my pocket” while touring Charleston, the country retreat of the Bloomsbury group and Virginal Woolf in East Sussex, England. “The hollyhocks had gone to seed, and somehow a pod or two got stuck in my pants.”

“The garden itself started off as a weedy, abandoned kitchen garden where I thought we’d grow a few flowers for fun. On our first trip to the nursery, while I was agonizing between packets of zinnia and morning glory seeds, David was pushing a cart loaded with three-gallon perennials to the car… hmmm. After we finished planting a 6 x 6′ plot, I gazed at the rest of our 25 acres—a huge, empty field riddled with grasses, brush, ancient 7-foot blueberry bushes, and overgrown apple and pear trees—and the obsession began. What’s a summer potluck party without a massive garden, anyway?

The 600-lb stone Buddha is from a Beijing flea market. “Drop-shipping from China is cheap,” says Rich, “but getting the local Agway guy to get the statue through the snow up the hill with his pickup truck was a more daunting task.”

“Four years later, we’ve got an 175 x 70′ fenced plot and an experimental 25 x 200′ unfenced testing site in which the deer nibble on just about everything except the 600-pound stone Buddha. Thus, we named our farm Buddha Barn. We grow flowers, veggies, fruit, and berries. My faves are the rare Ramapo tomato, PMR (powdery-mildew-resistant) acorn squash, and this year’s excitement, piñata squash (Honeyboat Piñata F1 Hybrid), which is green-and-yellow striped and tastes like a sweet potato, with edible skin. David has his berry-patch agenda, and is constantly making amazing meals and fattening desserts like raspberry pandowdy.”

This week's harvest included PMR (powdery-mildew-resistant) acorn squash and piñata squash, the green-and-yellow striped beauty


About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint, Salon.com, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
This entry was posted in Food from the Garden, Garden Design Projects, Horticulture, Private Gardens and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to On Their Farm They Had a Buddha… and a Berry Patch

  1. silpakorn2515 says:

    It’s great

  2. Pingback: They’re Getting Married! |

  3. Pingback: And They Had a Buddha Barn Party |

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