Hamlet’s vegetable garden

While we all know that Hamlet’s unbalanced girlfriend Ophelia was into flowers, it’s not generally known that Hamlet himself was a vegetable gardener.  I have given it much thought* and there is simply no other explanation for the positively uncanny parallels between a vast majority of the lines in the play and my garden…

(A few of them aren’t Hamlet’s lines, they’re from other characters, some of them dead characters, but they are rich and heavy, with a citrusy and mildly oaky depth and aftertones of cherry and blackberry. And good with cheese.)

But on to Hamlet

(*It is best not to ponder both Shakespeare and gardening while simultaneously sitting around on a warm evening, drinking cheap wine you bought at Trader Joe’s and watching the little tractor sprinkler move along the hose.)

pumpkin blosssom

“Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin.”

(Sinful pumpkin blossom, dreadfully late. But we should have plenty of pumpkins for Easter or possibly May Day. Unless someone cuts them off.)

dead rhubarb

“O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!”

(So the recent rain was inadequate for the rhubarb. Who knew?)

bean teepee July“That it should come to this!”

(Green beans climbed. Not too surprising really.)

tomato jungle                                                  “The memory be green.”

(Deepest, darkest Tomato Jungle. I think I hear breathing in there– Where’s Tillie?)

green tomatoes“Come, give us a taste of your quality.”

(You can’t talk them into ripening, I’ve tried.)

tomato and nasturtiums“O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!”

(Yes this tomato has nasturtium flowers.  All I can say is thank heaven for the Vegetable Garden Beautification Project to provide the tomatoes with some color.)

lettuce“I must be cruel, only to be kind…”

(Well kind to ME. Yummy salad-bound lettuce.)

cucumber trellis                                              “I know a hawk from a handsaw.”

I love that and just had to put it in even though the reference may seem a teensy bit oblique.

This photo is a sweeping long-range landscape, a vista across two vast raised vegetable garden beds, and here we abandon Shakespeare for a moment. (I can skip around like that because this is MY blog.)

So in the foreground fore-growing is a swath of onion tops. Pointy and lovely and some delightfully askew or flat. Then, just beyond, is the world famous Bed-spring Cucumber Trellis! (Really, it’s all over the internets).

This raised bed, with actual cucumbers,* (see them looking charmingly obscene there against the trellis) also accomodates a large pot (at the left) wherein grows, inexplicably, an infant hop vine.

Beside the hop pot grows a misplaced, mentally distressed cantaloupe plant and a lemon cucumber plant which produces spikey fruit covered in tiny needle-sharp thorns.  I will never again grow lemon cucumbers.

lemon cucumber

The cucumbers are yellow and round as shown above. (That is a stem.)  You have to peel these petite vegetables unless you seek to have your tongue pierced, and when they are completely peeled there is then nothing left to eat…

They would, however, make first-rate ammo for some sort of small catapult if you happen to have an annoying neighbor.  

Exeunt vegetables.

*Please, do not call them cukes. Really it sounds like one of Lewis Carroll’s words, where he crossed maybe cough and puke….

p.s. You were pretty certain I would use that “Something is rotten” quote weren’t you? But I didn’t want to talk about compost this time.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
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25 Responses to Hamlet’s vegetable garden

  1. This is enviably high minded.

    “Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
    “Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
    “And he has brain,”
    “Yes,” said Piglet., “Rabbit has brain.”
    There was a long silence.
    “I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything,”

  2. Angie Case says:

    Beautiful post Linnie! If you find Tillie, please let us know! Maybe the lemon Cucumbers would be good ammo for a trebuchet! My eldest son and I have long wanted to build one. Once you’ve cut all of their pointy things off, do you have a wet center? Maybe gourds would be better for hurling across our 29 acres… Will have to give it some thought before I start planting things to fling, huh?
    Your cucumbers on the bed spring trellis are looking good! The grasshoppers left me with a couple of little nubs where there use to be plants. The VGBP is wonderful! I’ve always thought companion planting should happen in every bed, but then again, I’m a tad plant obsessed, like someone else I could mention! Let’s celebrate halloween together, my pumpkins should be ripe by next spring! Our weather was broken this year though, you can’t blame the gardener on this one!

    Have a fabulous day my friend!

    • linniew says:

      Wow Angie, a Flinging Garden! THAT’s what to do with tomatoes with end rot… Wish I could come up with a solution for your hungry grasshoppers. I keep thinking of chickens…

  3. kininvie says:

    Linnie, Are those cucumbers trying to crawl up the bedsprings? Are you sure they are cucumbers? They look like very large slugs to me. Meanwhile, talking sunflowers, I passed through several huge FIELDS of them today. Would you like me to put up a photo, or would you find it too upsetting?

    • linniew says:

      Dear Kininvie,
      They are indeed cucumbers, although I admit there is a dynamic quality to their little forms– yes definitely wiggly looking–so you just barely get by with that outrageous slug question.

      Thank you for your kind offer to post pictures of fields of sunflowers but you’re probably right and I can’t take it.
      Are you STILL in France? On vacation? That is simply not fair.
      (I think I hear weeds growing in your garden… )

  4. Dear Linnie, You are too funny! A clever, delightful post. P. x

  5. Grace says:

    In my quest for not taking it too seriously, I often refer to my garden as “A comedy of errors.” … I do believe you are right about your cucumber trellis being all over the Internet. What’s it like being famous? … Something tells me you’d better not let Tillie get a hold of those lemon cucumber monstrosities. I’m just saying…

    • linniew says:

      -See, Shakespeare has words for every garden!

      -My cucumber trellis is sort of tangled in the internets more than actually being ON the Internet. There is some kind of difference there and it has to do with how I’m not famous.

      -You have keen insight into Tillie’s potential for disaster, Grace, and I count you among my best advisors. (She’s not texting you is she?)

  6. Tom says:

    Quite possibly the most cultured and inventive blog post I’ve ever read! Lovely

    • linniew says:

      It’s great to have you stop in here Tom!
      But I’m afraid “cultured” applies only to the sour cream in my refrigerator…

      [As you can see, Tom, writing in Bristol, UK, views the world… in a unique way. (This is a good thing.) He has an extremely weird and entertaining range of topics on his blog, Growing Up, including, just for example, the Weed of the Day…]

  7. Alberto says:

    Linnie at least you can see some RED among those tomato plants… Hope you wont see some Tillie too… Those yellow cucumbers are very odd too shame you don’t have any neighbor though.

    I must admit I studied italian literature, so I’m a bit rusty about Shakespeare but I think I get the whole post anyway. I don’t know if this is supposed to make you happy or not… 🙂

    • linniew says:

      Yes because of the nasturtiums I didn’t have to get out the red spray-paint after all. Glad the post made sense (for a change), regardless of the tiny bits of Shakespeare…

      I tried reading Dante once. It was a little bleak, but I do like the name “Beatrice” quite a lot. And I love my Pellegrino Artusi cookbook!

  8. Roberta says:

    You really have the best garden. I love seeing all the photos of it.

  9. And I was expecting to see vegetables in the same demise as Yorick but instead a lovely abundance. Look forward to a post on your Easter pumpkin decoration. Thanks as always for the entertaining play of words – the yellow ammo would come in handy for squirrel targets.

  10. So many veggies, not enough time. The yellow ammo is very interesting.

  11. Nell Jean says:

    I had a clever comment all ready until I got to the comments and it left me. Something to do with the heat, I think.

  12. linniew says:

    That happens to me. The comment ideas are abundant until I get to The Box. Thanks for coming by Nell Jean.

  13. It is the most shattering experience of a young man’s life when one morning he awakes and quite reasonably says to himself, “I will never play the Dane.” When that moment comes, one’s ambition ceases. Don’t you agree? (Quote from the movie “Withnail and I”)

    Don’t know why I felt that was relevant to share, but as a Dane I dare say I have an inborn right to go off on a tangent whenever Hamlet is mentioned.

    (In London I once met an elderly American lady who – upon learning that I was Danish – asked me somewhat jokingly, “So, are y’all melancholic over there?” See? Tangent again… I’m allowed to!)

    • linniew says:

      Loved this comment Søren! I have a friend in New York who just recently performed the role of Lady Macbeth, which was her dream since forever, and it must be something like that Danish movie character & Hamlet.

      It has never occurred to me to inquire about the the general level of melancholy in Denmark– It appears to me that you have escaped the gloom entirely, well done.

      Regarding tangents, or digressions, I appreciate them hugely– It describes most of what I write!

      • The movie is actually English and also includes this quote, perhaps more appropriate to a garden blog:
        I think the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium. Mmm. The carrot has mystery. Flowers are essentially tarts, prostitutes for the bees. There is, you will agree, a certain “je ne sai quoi,” something very special about a firm, young carrot.

        But as a more Hamlet-related information, when I was a teenager I used to quote Hamlet’s soliloquy when I got really drunk. Either that or Ronsard’s poetry (in French). I was a pretentious brat.

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