tomato cage and tomato ladder

Cindy and Kathy at the photo shoot.

Like many good ideas, it all began with a casual hallway conversation. Back in the office after a sunny May weekend, Cindy and I were talking about which gardening chores we’d managed to cross off our lists. We had both planted our tomatoes that weekend, but she had put up tomato ladders and I had put up cages. We started laughing about how she would never even consider using cages for supports and how I would never consider using ladders. Others within earshot chimed in with their own opinions about the merits of each support system. It seemed clear: Either you were a cage-person or a ladder-person.

Our art director, Susan, overheard us talking and a light bulb went on. “Let’s set up a face off and photograph it for the catalog,” she said. “We could do it in one of the beds in our display garden!”

We enlisted our extraordinary staff gardener, Sarah, to set up and maintain the bed throughout the summer months. She made sure the tomato plants were well fertilized and had plenty of water. By early September, the plants were heavy with fruit and the photo shoot was scheduled for one day after work. Susan, the photographer, our photo stylist Martha, and Cindy and I met in the display gardens just outside our offices.

Cindy and I figured we’d been asked to be there as “expert advisors” about the merits of the two different systems. What we didn’t realize was that Susan’s plan was to feature the two of us just as prominently as the tomato supports.

There was no time for special outfits and no one around to style our hair. The two of us got planted right in the bed with the tomatoes and it was all over but the crying in about 10 minutes. (Strange to see how you can look your age on the outside and still feel like 35 on the inside…).

Read Tomato Support Techniques to learn more.

-Kathy LaLiberte, Director of Gardening