Friday 29 June 2012

Old Salem Museums and Gardens

The Miksch Garden by David Bergstone.  Image from Old Salem Museum & Garden
I have to admit to a penchant for the living museum concept.  You know the ones, where old buildings are preserved, period garden are planted and people in period dress provide interpretation.  One of may favourites in Wales is St Fagans National History Museum, in Holland the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuisen is great, as is Bunratty Castle in Eire.

I have a long held and as yet unfilled wish to visit Colonial Williamburg and to the list I need now to add Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC. The museum tells the Moravian story (Moravia is ah historic region in the east of the Czech Republic) and the development of the Wachovia tract in North Carolina, which started with Bethabara and Bethania and eventually included Salem and several other outlying settlements. On the museum's gardens webpage is a quote which appeared in The Carolina Watchman newspaper in 1845
, describing Salem's gardens:

   'Its style and manners (are) very city-like and no place of the same size contains as many plants and flowers.  In every window, yard, and garden you behold them and some of very beautiful and rare order.  If a great fancy for flowers argues a corresponding taste for all that’s beautiful and lovely, then the people of Salem are unsurpassed.'

Gardens were clearly an important part of life in Salem and The Winston-Salem Journal has a interesting piece examining the garden of the museum's Miksch House  - as it was gardened both by Matthew Miksch in the mid-18th century and its historic gardener today, Chet Tomlinson. To quote the Museum website, the garden which belonged to the first privately-owned house in Salme (1771):  

    'today is planted with an array of vegetables the family would have needed. Pear trees are espaliered along fences with peach and apple trees at lot edges, and border beds are planted with a variety of herbs and flowers, inspired by the 1761 list of Hortus Medicus the Medical Garden in Bethabara, the first Moravian settlement in Wachovia. This early plant list and plan provide detailed information about medicinal and culinary herbs favored by the Moravians.'

And, of course, central to the  garden is the use of heirloom varieties.

Freedom Garden in Louisiana

Image from the River Road African American Museum
The River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville, Louisiana has created a fascinating garden which is has called the Freedom Garden, and which 'reveals the history of Louisiana’s Underground Railroad and shows a variety of vegetation that was cultivated through the use of slave labor. Freedom seekers might have used the edible and medicinal plants displayed in this garden as a mechanism of survival while escaping from the plantations in the region. Some of the plants are indigenous to Africa, some were domesticated on the plantations, and many could be found in the wilderness along the bayous, rivers and swamps.  

Here is a piece in The New York Times featuring the garden and Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, the museum's founder and executive director.  

Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens wins Award

Arcady (Knapp Estate), Santa Barbara, California, c. 1930 Hand-colored glass lantern slide Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection
Newswise reports that The Archives of American Gardens (AAG) which is part of part of the Smithsonian Gardens, has ben awarded the 2012 American Public Gardens Association Award for Program Excellence. This annual award recognizes exemplary public garden programming that has been a pioneer in a discipline related to public horticultural institutions.

The AAG is a wonderful resource for garden historians while simultaneously preserving America’s garden heritage.  Founded in 1987 the archive now holds in excess 100,000 images (of which more than 30,000 have been digitized and are available on-line) and supplemental files documenting 7,000 gardens from the late 19th century to today.

Barbara Faust, director of the AAG comments “The wide diversity of gardens documented in the Archives makes it an exceptional source of information for researchers,” adding that  “Gardens documented in the AAG contribute to a significant sampling of garden history for people today and in the future.” 

Tuesday 26 June 2012

GardMed - Historic Gardens in the Mediterranean Region

According to The Times of Malta the European Regional Development Fund under the Italia-Malta 2007-2013 Operational Programme is funding a new initiative called GardMed,a network of 15 public and private gardens in Malta and the Southern provinces of Sicily with the aim to promote and conserve the cultural and natural heritage associated with historical Mediterranean gardens.  To quote the Gardmed website:

'The purpose of GardMed is first to establish a network of support and technical expertise to ensure their (the garden's) sustainability and sound management. The ultimate scope of this effort is not limited to the survival of green areas representing our common natural heritage but, more fundamentally, to link their growth to sustainable, conscious, environmentally concerned local development. This effort also entails raising public awareness of Mediterranean gardens as cultural spaces at the centre of the conscious activities of those living alongside them. In other words GardMed wants to transform Mediterranean Urban Gardens from isolated, costly and social ineffective organisms into pivot sustainable agents of environmental urban development.'

As part of the programme, activities are  being held at the University of Malta Argotti Botanic Gardens from end of June until September. For further information contact the Argotti Botanic Garden on + 356 2124 8984 between 8 a.m. and noon, e-mail or download a list of events at

Monday 25 June 2012

Fort Winnebago's Heirloom Kitchen Garden

Fort Winnebago. Image from Wisconsin Historical Society

Constructed in 1828 on a hill between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers in Portage, Wisconsin, Fort Winnebago was of strategic importance to the crossing of both waterways.  In 1856 a fire destroyed much of the Fort and now only the Surgeon’s Quarters remain extant.

One of the features of the Fort was its kitchen garden which provided food and medicinal plants for the upward of 200 soldiers garrisoned there.  Now, the Portage Daily Register reports that the Columbia County Master Gardeners are recreating such a garden, which they hope will provide additional insight into dailt life at the fort.

The garden is being planted with ‘period correct’ heirloom (heritage) varieties dating to the 1820s to the 1840s, provided by Seed Savers Exchange.

Introduction to Garden History at Waterperry Gardens

Waterperry Gardens near Oxford is running an introduction to garden history course on four evenings between 26 July and 13 August.  More information here.

Walled Garden Good News

Photo by Katie Farnell and posted on Prospects website
The Lancashire Evening Post reports a good news story.  The historic walled garden of Worden Park in Leyland, South Ribble is to be revivified by The Brothers of Charity with the aid of a £100,000 grant.  The Charity aims to transform the walled garden into a living museum and visitor attraction, providing picnicking space and interpretation of the 18th century garden's history.

Campaign to Keep Scottish Historic Garden Public

The New Scotsman reports on a campaign by local Councillors in Edinburgh to appeal the decision by the Scottish Parliament to allow the sale of Millbuies House in Gogarban.  Next to the house is the garden known as Suntrap.  Both house and garden were built by pioneering philanthropist George Boyd Anderson in the late 1950s. The website for the campaign Save our Suntrap has more on the history of the gardens.

Friday 22 June 2012

German Garden Art

Hermannshof - from Noel's blog.
A very nice piece by Noel Kingsbury on his blog entitled 'Colourful thoughts about German gardening and art history'.  Well worth a read - and also check out his piece in The Daily Telegraph.

Spectacular Hôtel Miramion (with garden) for sale in Paris

Hôtel Miramion, Paris.  Image Daniel Féau
If you are in the market for a particularly special property then the 17th century, 75-room, 3,820 sq.m Hôtel Miramion -  complete with private courtyard garden of medicinal plants - in the desirable 5th arrondissement of Paris may be just the ticket.  

Private courtyard garden
According to The Wall Street Journal the property is is being sold on June 29 by sealed-bid auction. Experts estimate the price at $US 51-71 million.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Florence Griswold's Garden - under Restoration

Florence Griswold's House & Garden c.1905.  Image from Florence Griswold Museum
In the early 20th century Florence Griswold (1850-1937) became the became the nucleus of the Lyme Art Colony, a group of artists who came and stayed and painted at Miss Florence's house in Old Lyme, Connecticut and which became America's center of Impressionism. 

Miss Griswold's house became the Florence Griswold Museum and in 1993 was declared a National Historic Landmark.  Now, her garden is being restore. 

In  this piece in the Shorline Times Shelia Wertheimer, the garden historian who heads the effort to recreate Miss Florence’s historic gardens explains the project.

The garden will be open June 24 from noon to 4 p.m. as part of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, organised by Connecticut's Historic Gardens.

The Permissive Archive: a CELL conference

A heads-up, thanks to Sally, who sent this call for papers for a forthcoming conference organised by Centre for Editing Lives and Letters and which will examine the future of the ‘Permissive Archive’.

Dutch Historic Garden gets a new Statue

Image from RCE
A post on Historical Gardens reports on the arrival of a statue - The Suicide of Lucretia - into the kitchen garden of Beeckestijn, a buitenplaats (lit. 'outside place') or summer residence in the town of Velsen-Zuid in north Holland. 

The statue dates to 1777 and was the work of the brothers Ignazio and Filippo Collino (sometimes Collini.)