Community Garden at Edgerton Park. Smithsonian Institution Horticulture, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection. Photo by Jennifer Radford.

 

Feast Your Eyes title bar

Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

Considered the Cinderella of the horticultural world, the vegetable garden has typically been outshone by her flashier floral stepsisters. Centuries ago, however, vegetable gardens were the belles of the ball, designed to be productive and pleasing to the eye. Over time, they shed their ornamental finery and became hardworking wallflowers. Today, fashions have changed once again. Vegetable gardens are taking center stage in many an American yard, and vegetables themselves proudly strut their stuff in flowerbeds.

Feast Your Eyes: The Unexpected Beauty of Vegetable Gardens traces this transformation across centuries, continents, and cultures. The colorful exhibition begins with the “floating gardens” (chinampas) of Montezuma II’s Aztec empire, the vegetable gardens of China’s Ming dynasty, and the Baroque potager of Louis XIV at Versailles, where the modern phenomenon of ornamental vegetable gardens really took off.

For the next two-and-a-half centuries, as Feast Your Eyes illustrates, gardeners and landscape designers in England and America, including Thomas Jefferson, could not aesthetically reconcile the vegetable garden with the more natural style of gardening that replaced French formalism. Vegetable gardens were placed out of view, while pride of place was taken by flowers and well-manicured lawns. During World Wars I and II, however, vegetable gardens, attractive or not, took on a renewed importance as war and victory gardens. Today, horticulturists develop new varieties of vegetables just for their visual interest, and gardeners creatively incorporate these and other vegetables into a range of settings.

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Exhibition Specifications

Contents 5 freestanding units
Supplemental Educational resource list, speaker list, bibliography, companion book, planting guide
Participation Fee $3,500 for an 8-week booking period, plus outgoing shipping
Size 1,076 sq. feet (100 sq. meters)
Crates 5
Weight 623
Security Limited
Category History & Culture
Shipping Outgoing; host museum arranges shipping and pays carrier directly
SITES Contacts Michelle Torres-Carmona, 202.633.3143 (Scheduling)
Evelyn Figueroa, 202.633.3110 (Content)
Toured Through 12/31/08

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Tour Itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
9/21/02 11/17/02 Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE Booked
12/7/02 2/2/03 Blanden Memorial Art Museum, Fort Dodge, IA Booked
2/22/03 4/20/03 Green Bay Botanical Gardens, Green Bay, WI Booked
5/10/03 7/6/03 Wegerzyn Gardens Metro Park, Dayton, OH Booked
7/26/03 9/21/03 Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, VA Booked
10/11/03 12/7/03 Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum, Sterling, VA Booked
12/27/03 2/22/04 Tulsa Garden Center, Tulsa, OK Booked
3/13/04 5/9/04 Rogers Historical Museum, Rogers, AR Booked
5/29/04 7/25/04 Ohr-O'Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS Booked
8/14/05 10/10/04 Museum of the Oregon Territory, Oregon City, OR Booked
10/30/04 12/26/04 Museum of Science & Technology, Syracuse, NY Booked
4/2/05 5/29/05 City of Stow, Stow, OH Booked
6/18/05 8/14/05 State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens, GA Booked
9/3/05 10/30/05 Littleton Historical Museum, Littleton, CO Booked
11/19/05 1/15/06 Joliet Area Historical Museum, Joliet, IL Booked
2/4/06 4/2/06 D.H. Hill Library, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC Booked
4/22/06 6/18/06 Botanic Garden of Smith College, Northampton, MA Booked
7/8/06 9/3/06 Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA Booked
9/23/06 11/19/06 Georgia Highlands College, Rome, GA Booked
12/9/06 2/4/07 Mesquite Arts Center, Mesquite, TX Booked
2/24/07 4/22/07 Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ Booked
5/12/07 7/8/07 SullivanMunce Cultural Center, Zionsville, IN Booked
7/28/07 9/23/07 Spartanburg County Public Library, Spartanburg, SC Booked
3/15/08 12/31/08 New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ Booked

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Related Publications

Feast Your Eyes: The Unexpected Beauty of Vegetable Gardens by Susan J. Pennington; University of California Press, 2002; Soft Cover; $29.95

This book explores the history of vegetable gardens, from Aztec chinampas to the backyards of Americans today. Lavishly illustrated with over 100 historical and contemporary images, the book provides a fascinating and humorous discussion of how vegetables and vegetable gardens have been perceived across time and across cultures. Author Susan J. Pennington also curated the accompanying SITES exhibition of the same title, which opened in September 2002 at the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, Nebraska.  

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Press Release
None listed at this time. Please check back later.  

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EXPLORE and LEARN

Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Exhibition Images

Related Publications

Press Release

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Mailing Address
PO Box 37012
MRC 941
Washington, DC 20013-7012
202.633.3168 (tel.)
202.633.5347 (fax)

Delivery Address
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Suite 7103
Washington, DC 20024

 

 

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