1922 farm house landscaping

egyptianonion(z5 central IL)February 18, 2004

Hi, All--

Ginger kindly made the suggestion that I could cut and paste onto my own thread what sort of got hidden at the bottom of another, so here goes the saga of my family farm, with related pictures in the gallery, q.v.

In this forum's gallery under the title, "family farm series," are shown the same site in the winters of 1915 (circa), 1929, and 1994, and the spring of 2002. (Sorry they're not in order--it's the first I've posted pictures. In fact I think I'll re-post the May 2002, now that I've learned better how to do it.)

My great grandfather purchased the farm in 1870. Don't know if he built the white clapboard house or if it came with the property. When my grandparents built the new brick veneer house in 1922, they leveled the spot for the house to sit on and made a double terrace out of the ground that used to have a gentle slope south. (Note, by the way, the pine trees in the old white clapboard picture, two of which are extant today and show up in the other pictures.) Then they planted two rows of bridal wreath at the bottoms of the terraces and another right up against the building. I didn't know about the lowest row until after I'd already begun my rainbow garden there shortly after my husband and I took over the farm in 1991. Had I known, I might have considered putting it back. (Likely would have decided to let it be.) They probably found it unhandy for taking the tractor out to the east field and for delivering coal to the east side of the house.

Ginger also had some questions which I answered, so I will cut and paste them as well.


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egyptianonion(z5 central IL)

Posted by: ginger_nh z4 NH (My Page) on Sat, Feb 14, 04 at 7:57

The double terrace effect with spireas is interesting. I like the sepia tone photos, too.
Some questions:
-What sort of farm was it when it was a working farm?
-Do you grow organic vegetables, flowers, herbs for sale or your own use?
-What do you have in your "rainbow garden" now?
-Are you continuing to do any hx restoration work or have you decided to do what seems appropriate for our times? I like your pithy "Some things change, some things stay the same." Indeed!



RE: Traditional American farm house garden?
Posted by: egyptianonion z5 central IL (My Page) on Mon, Feb 16, 04 at 2:24

Ginger, thanks for your interesting questions.
Sort of farm--During my growing-up years when my father ran it (I was born in '51), it was basically a hog and grain farm. He grew lots of corn for the pigs and to sell, plus some oats, but started growing soybeans in the sixties as a cash crop as well. We had a few chickens early on, but found it more convenient to buy at the store. (I think even store-bought chicken used to taste better back then.) My mother was a city girl from 200 miles away and hadn't inherited the gardening genes of her father. She did like to grow yellow wax beans and freeze them, which we all enjoyed. During my father's growing up it was much more diversified. At present, having retained about a third of the acreage, 122 acres, our renter/manager/neighbor specializes in grain--soybeans and corn.

Organic veggies?--I've gradually gone to organic and permacultural gardening for fun. I really love fruit, and since my husband and I can be on the farm only three months of the year (we teach up in Alaska come down every summer), time is at a premium. Therefore, perennial edibles are my priority, with maybe a few yellow wax beans. So I've planted fruit trees and small-fruit shrubs, asparagus, rhubarb, hardneck garlic (not really perennial, of course), garlic chives, and (my namesake) Egyptian onions, plus many other kinds of herbs.

All of these are just jumbled together for a permacultural type of system, though I do plant them in such a way as to enhance the ability to mow around them. In the east garden, for instance, I planted over the years three rows of fruit trees, plus another row of currants, rhubarb, and grapes. In between the trees, I planted within the rows all kinds of herbaceaous plants, for organic companion reasons, but also so that I could just run the mower all the way up and down without having to go around each individual tree. (I initially scoffed at the by-word "easy to mow around," but soon incorporated it into my criteria of good gardening once I actually started mowing.)

Rainbow garden--
blue flax
Darker blue:
Veronica austriaca 'Crater Lake Blue'
Annual blue salvia that either survive or reseed every year, c.r.n. (can't remember name)--Victoria?
annual reseeding larkspur, Consolida ambigua
Veronica spicata 'Blue Peter'
Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'
Salvia X Superba 'Blue Hill'
Salvia 'Superba Blue Queen'
Ground cover rose 'Red Ribbons' (Jackson & Perkins)
Dianthus, 'Flashing Light' and 'Brilliant'
Asclepias tuberosa
Gaillardia, 'Goblin' and a bigger c.r.n.
Coreopsis, tall c.r.n.
Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'
Achillea filipendula
Coreopsis 'Zagreb'
Juniper horizontalis 'Plumosa Youngstown'
Euphorbia cyparissias (am phasing out as juniper grows)

Historical restoration--As I view pictures that go all the way back to 1900, I see many changes, including the location of fences, the coming and going of huge trees, and in the ground itself as I describe before with the double terracing. And yet there are still a couple of barns and a corn crib that endure. Times change and new personalities come in.

My blood link to the past allows me to both have some knowledge of the past, as well as the capability of gathering more knowledge from pictures, written material, and friends and neighbors whose relationships with the family go back for generations. I cherish this, and often repeat plantings to mimic the past.

Yet I can't put it all back and I don't feel the need. As long as I have the family blood, the farm is still evolving as the family farm. I try to do it justice, and though I enjoy it tremendously myself, I'm really only borrowing it from the next generation, whether it goes to my nieces (we're child-free) or whether it changes over to a whole new set of genes.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2004 at 12:52AM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Thanks for posting this separately. The explanation needs to accompany the fascinating sequence of the photos of your farm's landscape history in the gallery. Beautiful, Egyptianonion.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2004 at 11:59AM
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chickadee_42us(8a Tx)

I liked the first white plank frame home also. Did it get torn down in the rebuilding of the newer brick model? I probably overlooked that answer somewhere. Congratulations on being a member of the family heritage you have received and applause for keeping the history going and caring enough for your ancestors to maintain and grow future history.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 8:58AM
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egyptianonion(z5 central IL)

Thanks, Chickadee. Yes, it got torn down in order to build new. According to my aunt, who was nine at the time, one day her mother was down in the basement doing the wash when she came screaming up the stairs. Somehow a snake had gotten in. Her mother did not like snakes, and was known to go after them wielding a hoe if she found them outside. Anyway, so the story goes, because of the snake in the basement, they had to build a new house.

I think that my grandparents were doing fairly well financially during the teen years. They were married in 1909, both at age 24, and had a girl and a boy in 1913 and 1916, respectively, and my grandfather probably benefited from being able to make a living during the war instead of having going to fight in it. Unfortunately, about the time they were finishing building in 1922, the economy started going downhill for the farmers as a harbinger of the Great Depression that came several years later. They ended up opting out for cheaper lighting appointments and such things until money wasn't so tight, some of which my husband and I provided more than 70 and 80 years later! They about lost the farm trying to pay for the house. I love it, though. One of my favorite things is the 10-foot-long oak buffet in the dining room. The place does need a lot of work, but it's worth it to us.

Please check out the picture, "family farm series, autumn, 1900--picture," and the narrative, "family farm series, autumn, 1900," both in the gallery of this forum. (I forgot to add the picture to the narrative the first time, so I posted the picture separately.)

Notice that the shutters are still on the windows. I wonder what colors the house was painted at the time. There are at least three colors: dark shutters, light trim, and something in between for the clapboard.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 12:41AM
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