More Proof That Anything Done With Conviction Is Great


I caused a lot of trouble a few weeks ago by saying that I generally find raised beds in vegetable gardens ugly.  But we spent the July 4th weekend with some friends in Bovina, New York and stayed at the Mountain Brook Inn, where I saw owner Gary Simmons’ raised beds, which I thought were wonderful.

Of course, maybe that’s the funky Catskills motel spirit of the place talking, or the mountain stream that flows by the guest rooms, or the easy attitude towards children and dirty dogs. Or the fantastic sheets and nice toiletries. Or the ridiculously delicious homemade muffins, good coffee, and melon balls left outside our door every morning. Whatever. I love staying at this place, the best combination of high and low, ergo I love Gary’s beds.


Now, that’s a raised bed!  It’s tall enough so that you have to climb into it, like an above-ground swimming pool.  Indeed, four of these monsters sit on the site of what was a swimming pool.


The raised beds are a concession to the rocky mountainous soil–and the fill used to obliterate the pool. Why are they so big? "Scale," says Gary. "I wanted them to suit the scale of the property."


This is the view from the motel balcony.  I think they look great in this shaggy county landscape.


  1. “Courage of your convictions” is a phrase that comes into my head regularly when I’m dreaming up ideas for the garden. It was a favorite of J. Carter Brown, head of the National Gallery and Chair of the Commission of Fine Arts, where I worked for him (creating transcripts of their meetings).
    Anyhoo, he was always telling even some of the world’s greatest architects, sculptors and landscape architects and many lesser ones that they should have the courage of their convictions and not do something halfway. That’s my best memory of him, one of quite a mixture, I’ll tell ya.

  2. I too often find raised beds ugly – I think my issue with them is that they inherently produce very hard lined structures. In ornamental gardens we would soften the edges with a trailing creeper over the edges or some such but in the vegetable plot not so much. The aesthetic would be mich improved if people took a little more care over the paths in between them and maybe planted a little softening planting (chives? lavender? edible sage?) around the base of the odd wall or two.

    Now all of the above doesn’t apply in this case because these are bold, impressive structures in a big landscape but in the smaller garden I think that is the key issue.

  3. I love my raised beds. I have 7 12×3 beds with two foot gravel paths around them. I use bamboo for decorative supports and my dh built a lovely japanese style bamboo fence to seperate my toddler from the garden. It looks great and we get a lot of compliments.

    Unfortunately I don’t have a decent, recent pic. Will have to get on that.

  4. If I want to have a vegetable garden at all here in the TX Hill Country, I have to bring in dirt and fill raised beds. The limestone ledge I garden on doesn’t allow for soil amendment or improvement, as there isn’t any soil! For some of us, raised beds are a necessity rather than an option.

  5. Those aren’t raised beds–they’re skyscraper beds!

    Frankly, I think my garden is much tidier and structured with the raised beds. Of course, mine aren’t so high–only about 8″. And I do believe that the workmanship and materials used in the construction make a big difference. I have seen some unsightly work!

    Robin Wedewer
    Gardening Examiner

  6. I put raised beds into the existing 20 x 30 vegetable garden in the backyard of my little house here in Montana partially because I wanted something that had a design to it. I looked at a lot of garden books and designed something loosely based on the idea of a French potager (there are photos on my blog). I have triangular beds around the perimeter with two diamond-shaped ones in the middle, and I have to say that what I plant where is as much determined by how I want the garden to look, as it is by what will grow well in which bed (for instance, I want tall things in the center of the diamond beds, fennel and brussels sprouts this year). I also put raised beds in because 1)it’s cold here and they extend the season and 2) I wanted to contain my vegetable mania. I like them a lot, especially new long bed I set against my new privacy fence – the tomatoes are loving the heat, but I have to admit that I also regret not having the kind of flexibility that an open vegetable plot would afford.

  7. When we lived aboard, we built a vegetable garden out of 14 fish totes(30″x 30″x 30″)in the marina.
    It’s a pleasure to be able to pick your produce at eye level. Now that we are older and living in a house we are reproducing it. The ground just seems to get lower every year.

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