On Sunday, December 14th a dedicated group of volunteers gathered at the Coxhall Kitchen Garden on Simpson Road in Hardwick to accomplish some much needed brush clearing around the historic stone wall structure. Along the dirt road and inside the massive walls of the Coxhall Kitchen Garden was a tangle of brambles and invasive species such as oriental bittersweet and multiflora rose. A substantial amount was accomplished on this workday and for this we thank Caren Caljouw, Chris Buelow, Marc Mattson, Jeff Smith, Rod and Linda Leehy, and Kelly Wheeler. We’re planning on another workday in March and hope you can join us then.
Coxhall Kitchen Garden was constructed between 1771 and 1774, under the guidance of Timothy Ruggles. In the journal of Elihu Ashley, entry on July 6, 1774 describes the area being worked by Timothy Ruggles: “He has a piece [sic] of stone wall, the height of it about Eight feet, under half his Wall runs a Brook which he lets out upon a piece of Mowing. This Garden he designs for a Kitchen Garden and South of where he designs to set his house he is fitting a piece [sic] of Ground for Nines.” All who have ventured down Simpson Road are impressed by the size, design and construction of this kitchen garden wall. This wall and the area are drenched in historical lore, due in part to the association with Brigadier-General Timothy Ruggles, who was a major figure in the French and Indian Wars, and a controversial Loyalist in the Revolutionary War.
Special thanks to Nan Wolverton, Myron Goddard, Carol Andrews, Susan Gainley and Ed Hood for their historical research into the original construction and intended uses of the walled area. Local lore suggested that the wall structure was built as a deer park. According to Nan Wolverton, who teaches on historical landscapes and gardens, “Walls around kitchen gardens (usually board fences) were mainly for keeping animals out and for creating micro-climates for plants. The warm southern side of the fence was used for early spring sowing and the cool northern side would be planted later to extend the cool-season crops into the hotter summer season.”