The Garden Gated


Next week the story here will be the Fortress Garden. Post holes have been augured, concrete truck is coming soon, and by the middle of next week I’ll be able to post to the deer-world our challenge: Bring it on, Rats on Stilts!

This image was one of the very first digital images I ever took–in April 2002–with the Nikon Coolpix 950 newly arrived in my life then. It was love at first sight, swivel body and all.

This place is a mile down mountain from where our road meets the hardtop–which you can see snaking its way down towards Shawsville–with Goose Creek meandering around the rocky prominence upon which this old farmstead has stood for many years( and where some artist-friends currently live). It is one of the most picturesque places the most folks don’t realize is still in Floyd County–but not by much.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. See, this is why I stopped gardening: it was no fun to garden inside a fortress. And even with eight-foot-high fences, the deer still managed to get in. Fortunately, the valley right below us is full of truck-farming Amish now.

  2. Oh, and yes – as long as we had dogs, we could get away with just a low fence. We kept the dog house right next to the garden.