Welcome to Victory Garden

Enlarge to see boot.

Last week along with 35 of my fellow Master Gardeners, I spent the morning visiting Roger B. Swain’s personal Victory Garden. As I got out of the car, I saw a boot hanging over his mailbox causing me to smile, grab the camera and know that a gardening adventure was about to begin.

It was beyond my wildest imagination although I hadn’t arrived knowing what to expect. Manicured lawns? Flower beds landscaped like a magazine? Vegetable gardens with plants all lined up? Or was it more country like a person who wears suspenders?

Roger lives in a lovely home in the southwestern part of New Hampshire. It is a large property that covers acreage on both sides of the road and has been in his family for over 50 years.

He has a constant battle with every type of critter you can name and as a result almost everything is fenced in with one or two layers of fencing.

It’s almost a full-time job for him.


He has plenty of flowers for native pollinators including two day lilies that were named after him.

But his main focus is fruit and vegetable gardening, and he does it well.

SwainfruitCollageThe sour cherry trees have to be totally encased in netting and his air blown inflatable snake shoos birds off the grapes, pears, kiwis, raspberries and blueberries not even mentioning the many apple trees. And, I’ve probably left something out because I was on sensory overload.

Did you see the swing in the first shed?

If there is a vegetable, he is growing it. There was no way I could take a photo of all of his vegetable gardens because they are just too big. They are somewhat on the size of a CSA. Did I mention he processes all the food – canning and pickling? I’m not sure when he finds time to sleep or if he does.

SwainVegCollageSpending the morning in Roger Swain’s presence was a learning experience by fire hose. This man knows more about gardening that half the country put together. He is amazing, and did I mention he has a wicked sense of humor?

He shared his gardening expertise with us for two and a half hours and answered many questions. He is a very common sense gardener and works around the clock to grow his large variety of produce.

Roger said for those who don’t want to work that hard to remember when we go to the Farmers’ Market – whatever the price is, it really is a bargain. 🙂

While thanking us for coming, he mentioned that he lost his wife of 31 years, Elisabeth,  seven years ago. He then had some marital advice for us – live dangerously and go first. 🙂


*  Roger also writes blog posts at Home Ground for Fruition Seeds .

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
This entry was posted in Gardening, Vegetable Gardening and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Welcome to Victory Garden

  1. Midwestern Plant Girl says:

    I’d sure be on sensory overload also! What a beautiful garden he has. I would have a lovely afternoon there also!


  2. What a wonderful experience!


  3. Dan Antion says:

    I have been waiting to see the photos and read about this trip Judy. What a wonderfule few hours that must have been for you. Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m trying to imagine how much time it takes to keep those gardens going.


    • Dan, I’ve never seen vegetable gardens that large or that productive. As we walked around, I kept trying to wrap my mind around how he plants, fences, maintains, and processes it all. There was a young woman there that apparently works for him, but the amount of acreage seems like it would require a full time crew of people. And, then when he started bringing out huge jars of every kind of vegetable you can name that he processed in some way, I just gave up trying to figure it out. LOL What a guy – you could listen to him talk about fruits and veggies for hours. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Benjamin says:

    Wonderful! Roger & the early days of the Victory Garden are partly responsible for why I love getting my hands dirty 😉


    • The early days of HGTV/DIY programs. 🙂 I couldn’t believe how much he is still doing. He had all kinds of tales including the one town policeman cruising by asking him what he was doing out on the road in his underwear in the middle of the night with a gun. ‘Trying to protect my garden.’ LOL

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Laurie@hinterlands.me says:

    Wow! As we would say in Maine, Roger is some farmer.


  6. He sounds like quite a character Judy. One in a million. I was trying to explain to my team this morning why I go out in the early hours of the morning hunting for the bugs that nibble my garden (I do wear a robe!). Much smaller critters, but in proportion to the minute size of my garden 🙂


  7. Awesome … well written post covered most of the excitement,
    but , hopefully, I am sure there will be more to come ? ? ?
    Hope someone made a video of the experience…
    This type of education needs to be preserved for future generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cynthia says:

    Sounds like the best kind of day in so many ways. People and gardens like him are few and far between…such an inspiration!! Def my kind of guy. Loved reading this and seeing these photos


  9. Sammy D. says:

    Oh my gosh I’d love to walk this one with you. I can’t imagine the work involved but it’s obviously a labor of love to tend his God’s acres. Just beautiful.


  10. I remember the victory garden from PBS growing up. Nice to see it off camera, so to speak. Absolutely amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. quiltify says:

    “How sad” was my reaction…that he feels that way…Am I the only one with this reaction to his “live dangerously and go first”? (only the go first part!) But at least he has something to keep him really busy, I guess.

    Judy, at some point would you do a post on what a master gardener is? …For the less than stellar gardeners who read your blog?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Joyce says:

    Wow! Amazing! He is so full of life – and so is his massive enterprise! Loved seeing this. Everything looks so healthy and happy, no wonder the critters come for miles to snack!
    Your own place, you know, impresses people too. Yours is also a (smaller) well manicured, thriving source of healthy food and productivity!


    • Thank you for saying that, friend. 🙂 I grow what I can maintain and eat. I’m not big into processing because I spent my childhood helping my Grandmother and in my early married days I did a lot of it. Been there, done that… He is one happy camper while gardening on acres and then putting it all up. His energy level was something else.


  13. He looks like an illustration of “old MacDonald” … you know, the guy who had the farm with all the oinking and quacking and mooing.

    The advice to go first is excellent. My son has offered to take me behind the shed and shoot me. Maybe I should schedule that soon lest it all get ahead (ahem) of me.


    • 🙂 So many of his trees and plants were installed with his wife that their is a wistful tone to his conversation when he talks about them and the circumstances regarding their plantings. Sweet but sad because he really misses her deeply.


  14. Lorrie says:

    What a great place to visit. There would be so much to take in – sensory overload at its highest. Love the idea of a plastic blow up snake to scare birds away. But I hate snakes so much that it might scare me!
    It’s a measure of the love he and his wife shared that he would say such a thing. It sounds like they were real partners in the garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, what a great experience for you all. I love learning from highly dedicated gardeners and surely, Roger is one. Sad to hear about his continued burden of sorrow regarding the loss of his beloved. He probably feels her presence best in the garden that they shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Paige says:

    I loved his marital advice. Being a widow, I can imagine my husband hearing that and smiling … because that is what he would have wanted, too. : )


  17. HE and his garden sound and look amazing!! What a great experience to get to go there.


  18. Terrific photos. Love these.


  19. Peter S says:

    I worked with Roger about 20 years ago. One day he passed me in the hall and asked ‘How’s it going?’. I said ‘Well, every day above ground is a good day’. He laughed and took me out to lunch later that day. It was a very memorable lunch in Boston’s Chinatown. Thanks for reminding me of that !


  20. pbmgarden says:

    Glad you had this opportunity.


  21. oh mygoodness what a trip, what a gorgeous garden and what a great character ;0) xo Johanna


  22. What a treat and inspiration, first for you and then for us through your blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dawn says:

    What a fun day of new learning, old memories, and the sheer joy (and hard work!) of gardening!! Thanks for another wonderful post, Judy! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Love it! “Live dangerously and go first.” What a fun day, and what a fabulous garden. Thank you for sharing the fun and foilage and more. Great photos, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Grandma Kc says:

    OMG — that is so amazing and I can just imagine you being lost in the wonderment of it all! Thank you for sharing it!


  26. Karen says:

    What a treat that must have been. I like his thought about whatever the price is, it really is a bargain…a lot of work goes into each vegetable that is available at a farmer’s market.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. jan says:

    Out here in California we didn’t plant a garden this year or last because of the drought. Really am terribly jealous of you folks in New England! Love Roger’s marital advice! Jan


  28. Annie says:

    Loved your comment… “a learning experience by fire hose.” I totally agree. What a guy.


  29. Mother Hen says:

    I wonder where he gets his energy? Most likely from the food he grows…


    • I wondered the same thing. He is 66, lives alone, misses his wife, and still maintains more ground than I could even imagine taking care of if I had a crew to help me. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, it is definitely worth the effort. 🙂


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