The Hobbit's Unexpected Vegetable Garden

Hobbiton Garden
Hobbiton, The Shires, Middle Earth, Matamata, North Island, New Zealand.

David Broad / Creative Commons / CC BY 3.0

Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had a record-setting opening weekend at the box office. The film grossed $84.8 million over its first three days in theaters.

As a gardener I’m more impressed with the fact that The Shire film set for The Hobbit movie is home to a year-round, working vegetable garden. Earlier this season, Daniel, a horticulture student at Wintec, posted a few pictures on Reddit of the garden after participating in a workday.

Daniel jumped at the opportunity to garden at The Shire after it was offered to his class by the two full-time gardeners who graduated from the same course as he’s enrolled in. In the spring and summer, extra gardeners are hired to help keep up with the garden.

These photos were taken during autumn in New Zealand, and I wondered what kind of vegetables grow in Middle-earth? What do hobbits eat?

“The main plants that I saw were just the usual winter crops. Bok choy, onions, broad beans, brassicas, artichokes, and silverbeet. The bushes around the area were barberry. The basic idea of what they would have grown if it was a real-life village was there,” Daniel told me via private message on Reddit six months ago.

Daniel also told me the gardens have to be built and maintained in a way that doesn't allow them to look like they were worked on by power tools. Hedge trimmers are used to cut the grass around the hobbit holes. Hedges are purposefully given a cloud-like shape to them to make them look like they belong in Middle-earth.

The most interesting facet of the set’s styling is related to the tree above Bilbo Baggins’ house. According to Daniel, for The Lord of the Rings, a tree was cut down from a nearby farm and reassembled for the set. This time a fake tree was crafted and it looks pretty life-like.

After The Lord of the Rings, the film set was dismantled, but when director Peter Jackson wanted The Shire to be a permanent fixture when he started The Hobbit trilogy. Today you can arrange for guided tours of Hobbiton if you’re ever in New Zealand.