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Kitchen Gardens

Heide has two productive kitchen gardens, one adjacent to the Heide Cottage and the other next to Heide Modern. Both were the creative project of Sunday Reed, who was an advocate for self-sufficiency and the nourishing benefits of organic, home-grown vegetables and fruits. Her garden-to-plate ethos continues at Heide today, with produce harvested from the kitchen gardens supplying the on-site cafe with seasonal produce.

Sunday’s first kitchen garden was created on the site of the previous owner’s derelict vegetable patch on the north side of Heide Cottage. It was designed to service the household, which in the 1930s and 1940s expanded with short- and long-term guests, all of whom were expected to assist with weeding, planting, harvesting and other garden chores. A lifelong student of horticulture, Sunday understood the importance of growing vegetables in soil that is rich in trace elements and organic compounds. She also refused to use pesticides, which necessitated vigilant daily monitoring. Along with conventional crops she sourced and cultivated a number of uncommon plants for the time, including asparagus, artichokes, sea kale and salsify, together with European salad leaves such as endive, chicory and cos lettuce.

photograph: John Gollings

photograph: Clytie Meredith

photograph: Clytie Meredith

photograph: Clytie Meredith

The vegetable garden was a prototype for the later kitchen garden at Heide Modern, which Sunday initiated in the late 1960s as the building works on their new residence were nearing completion. In this kitchen garden, ornamental plants were fully integrated into the overall design scheme. Laid out on the site of the former bull enclosure, a fertile location with alluvial soil, it was created by Sunday from scratch. She consciously modelled it on the English cottage garden tradition, with old roses, herbaceous perennials, culinary herbs and vegetables all growing together. It has two sections in contrasting symmetry: one half featuring narrow, parallel beds for vegetables and well serviced by perimeter paths, the other largely reserved for herbs and flowers. Sunday planted perennial herbs such as agrimony, tansy and lemon verbena alongside annual, biennial and seasonal plants like parsley, cumin, coriander and chervil, so that the garden would appear as verdant as possible year-round.

In addition, a number of flowering herbs were included for their visual appeal and growth habits rather than their culinary function, such as borage, lavender and bergamot. Similarly in the vegetable plots garlic was planted for its spectacular flower and seed head, as Sunday used it infrequently in cooking. Alongside the herbs she planted her favourite English cottage flowers: bearded iris, border pinks, columbines, delphiniums, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, hollyhocks, Japanese anemones, poppies and a range of violets.

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