Restoring New England Gardens

nandina(8b)January 17, 2004

Well, we have to get this new Forum off to the right start.

For those in the northeast, the following paragraph is extracted from a speech delivered to MA. Board of Agriculture at its annual meeting by Mr. C.O. Perkins on Dec. 14th, 1864, the minutes of which were published as HORTICULTURE OF MASSACHUSETTES, 1864, by C.L. Flint You may find it helpful as you contemplate garden restoration ideas.


Tastefully kept, carefully designed with reference to convenient location, convenience of internal arrangement, beauty of form and proportion, draped, perhaps, in tasteful simplicity with festoons of living vines, and with surrounding ornaments, of flowers, and of shade and fruit trees; occupied by the intelligent and warm-hearted farmer, with his neat, tasty, frugal, industrious and affectionate housewife, their cares and labors being lessened by the aid of sons bearing the image of the mother, and by daughters in the likeness of the father, and who, through the diligent training of the experienced parents, are the aspiring candidates to like positions,-all these, and even more may be seen in the rural portions of every New England town, and in no place on earth do we find nearer approaches to the Garden of Eden......"

Hopefully these words will inspire you as you go about your restoration projects!

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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

Amazing stuff! I like the "neat, tasty [sic], frugal, industrious and affectionate housewife" in the "Garden of Eden."

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 8:16PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Nandina, that is really lovely. What a vivid picture it conjures up!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2004 at 10:42PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

...and the first sentence isn't even over yet!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 10:04AM
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Claire! :)

Thanks John - I enjoy reading the old gardening books. Interesting to note how spellings have changed. Looking at an old gardening book last night I thought I spotted a typo: "Wistaria." But it was repeated throughout, so "wistaria" it was.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 10:47AM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I'm guessing that "tasty" meant something different back then. For example, "possessing of good taste." :)

Here in Salem, Mass., we have lots of Federal Period homes (late 1700s to early 1800s) with a smattering of 17th-century homes. Many have been lovingly restored, along with gardens, from lithographs and drawings of them that were found in historical writings.

There is also the famous House of the Seven Gables (as depicted in Nathanial Hawthorne's book), with it's 17th-century grounds. For many years, the head gardener there designed and maintained very period-authentic gardens for the house. A few years ago, a new head gardener came aboard and completely re-worked the historical gardens. Some local historians have lauded his efforts, while others disapprove because they say the results are too avant-garde.
I haven't been there to see the work that has caused the bruhaha, so this spring I'll make a point of going over there to see how the gardens were renovated.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 11:24AM
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This sentence paints a picture ... and so of course identifying popular landscape painting styles and philosophies of the area can help in creation of a completely original yet faithful to the spirit of history...

    Bookmark   January 18, 2004 at 2:02PM
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ScottReil_GD(z5 CT)

Reminds me of my old corporate days when Lancaster and York Counties (PA) were part of my territory. That's exactly how the Amish farms are...

    Bookmark   January 19, 2004 at 12:35AM
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Just roaming thru the archives here and must note that WISTARIA is not a typo. The plant was named for a famous horticulturist named WISTAR. He was part of a renowned Philadelphia family, some of whom spelled the name WISTAR and some who spelled it WISTER. If you look thru older garden books, you will often see WISTARIA. But you know what won...WISTERIA. No typos involved. Now you know the rest of the story.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 7:29PM
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