TRAVEL HERE: NOW DABS HAS EVERYTHING
If I told you that someone had everything except the kitchen sink, then you’d assume they had pretty much everything you needed. That’s certainly been the case at the Dallas Arboretum. I will wax eloquent at the drop of a hat that no one should come to Dallas without visiting the garden, even if that’s the only thing you have time for. If you live here, I will want to know why you aren’t a member. If you visit several times a year, I will suggest reasons to go monthly and if I could figure out how to work it in, I’d be there constantly. I envy those people who live close enough to stroll over there several times a week. In other words, I’m a fan.
A Tasteful Place
So now the Arboretum will have a kitchen sink. Of course, with multiple restaurants, food kiosks and event spaces, they’ve always had kitchen sinks, but I see A Tasteful Place as the community’s kitchen sink. It’s a place where we city dwellers can watch tomatoes bloom, smell herbs and wash freshly picked vegetables. Dallas foodies feel free to rejoice.
I like potager gardens. That’s the fancy name for kitchen gardens which have gotten a bit of an upgrade and these gardens are at the core of the design of A Tasteful Place. Historic homes, palaces and castles are some of my favorite places in the world. I am particularly enchanted when whoever is in charge continues to cultivate vegetables and herbs, in the same way they did when the edifice was someone’s home.
In a potager garden the vegetables and herbs are thoughtfully laid out with flowers and other plants to be as pleasing to the eye as they are to the tongue. The non-edible plants are chosen, not only for their visual beauty, but also to entice pollinators to visit the area. I’ve seen potager gardens laid out formally with boxwood hedges in fleur di lis shapes and animal topiaries, but that’s overdoing it a little for me. Usually these exotic gardens only have token vegetables and you wouldn’t dare pick them for fear of ruining the effect. I like it when a practical, useful garden has merely been prettied up a bit and I can imagine the chef sending a scullery maid out for a little extra rosemary… or the chef taking a quiet break there as the kitchen transfers from cleaning up from breakfast to the next meal of the day.
Elevating the Potager Garden
This being Dallas, the Arboretum is taking my pleasant little potager garden to the next level and it’s grand opening will coincide with the popular Autumn at the Arboretum event. A Tasteful Place will not quite rise to the boxwood and topiary level, but it will be something quite fantastic.
I remember the very first day I saw the sign announcing the coming garden. I imagined cooking classes and the fragrance of tomato plants in the hot summer sun, but A Tasteful Place is going to be so much more. There will be a formal entry to the garden and visitors will first step onto a covered patio offering a scenic overview of the area – including White Rock Lake with Downtown Dallas in the background. Flanking the patio will be water features and a promenade leading down into the four potager garden plots. The promenade will host quarterly garden-to-table dinners. To the left side will be a glass pavilion where cooking classes, both demonstration and participation events, will be held. And all you foodie-brides-to-be, yes there will be an open air event space where you can host your culinary-themed wedding.
Perhaps the most brilliant part of the whole scheme is that they’ve got a plan for disguising the nasty parts of horticulture. The Arboretum will be raising their vegetables and herbs from seed, just as any foodie purist would, but to keep A Tasteful Place wedding portrait perfect, all the early stages of a plant’s life will happen in a greenhouse and they will be lovingly transplanted to the potager garden when they are ripe and ready for harvest. Every month of the year will have a new crop ready for the kitchen. For instance, according to a list provided by the Arboretum, February will have beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cilantro, collards, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustards, onion, pak choi and swiss chard.
The practical among us are now wondering what will be done with all this produce. Well, there are those quarterly garden-to-table dinners and cooking classes, of course, but there will also be daily tastings in the garden. What’s not used for these purposes will be sold to visitors. Imagine spending a few hours with your family at the Arboretum and then coming home to cook the zucchini you purchased during your visit.
Recently, the Arboretum invited me for a hard hat inspection of the progress. I’ll leave you with some pictures I took. I hope you’ll plan a visit to the new garden this fall. I have merely mentioned a few highlights. There will be orchards, lagoons and so much more when it’s all done. And speaking of more,come by on Wednesday and enjoy a blog about breakfast at the Heliopolis Fairmont on a special wedding day.