Thursday, December 15, 2011

December in the Gardens of Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, NH

This is the Sherburne Garden at Strawbery Banke Museum. It is the oldest garden here and dates to 1695. It remains on it's original site framed by a Colonial house, a board fence and Roxbury Russett heritage apple trees. These raised beds supplied not only food but medicinal herbs for the family.

"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food."

A quote by Hippocrates from text at the museum.

Continuing our garden walk......

Up the path, inside a fenced yard of this 18th Century house is this wonderful pergola. This is my favorite garden structure here at Strawbery Bank. If I could duplicate one for our garden this would be it.
Portsmouth was as important trade port in the 18th Century, so new plants, from China for example, were introduced into gardens .

James and I were both interested that Strawbery Banke Museum has an Heirloom Seed project. It made sense since their mission here is to preserve not only buildings that span four centuries but also the gardens. We are certainly interested in learning more about this and the program Historic Foodways.

Follow a path towards a multi-tiered fountain, through an arch formed by the cedar and find yourself in the formal Victorian garden, circa 1862. I love walking under the cedar arch, it sets the stage for a romantic Victorian garden.

Paths lead to this garden building with decorative painted iron chairs. Here in the Victorian garden things taken on a more formal appearance, and the use of annual bedding plants for color and pattern.

A rose post adorns the corner of the Victorian garden. We first saw a rose post in the gardens here several years ago, when we were fortunate to have a private tour of the grounds and gardens. Our guide was John Forti, The Curator of Historic Gardens & Landscape at the Strawbery Banke Museum. It was a memorable tour that we often recall. Back then there was a small garden shop on the grounds where we bought a number of herbs including sweet cicely and bronze fennel that remain in our garden.

Here we are in the restored 20th Century Colonial Revival garden. There is so much going on here with plants and structures. Come along as we wander through .....

In this Colonial Revival garden the use of textural paths of stone and brick lead to an interesting pergola that connects the garden to the house. I have never seen a garden structure quite like this. I can imagine dining under the shade of the pergolas canopy in the warm months. It is impressive.

This garden will be glorious in the spring and summer, but this time of year the structure is the star.

The urn sits proudly on top or the trellis like structure. This garden has a good sense of scale.

The Herb Garden
This garden has been planted as a teaching garden. The bench adds an interesting focal point against the dark greenery of boxwood. The pea stone gravel paths are like what we have in our own gardens, I love the feel under foot and the sound of footsteps walking through the garden.

One of the reasons we are visiting the gardens here today is that we are considering changes to our garden. Our plan is to revise and edit our rose garden. Certain rose will remain others moved. Moving roses is a task and not always successful, but we must be courageous and move ahead! In their place herbs will be planted. So we came here today to see and fill our heads with the herb gardens.

A detail of the Herb Garden. It looks very pleased to share the names of all the plants.

Here we are at the Victory Garden reading the helpful text. Many American households relied on their backyard Victory Gardens to help provide food for their tables due to food rationing during World War II. We learned of a tomato that was new and planted in many of these backyard gardens called "Mortgage Lifter" a name appropriate to those difficult times. We have
since planted a couple Mortgage Lifters in our garden each summer.

The Victory Garden

The stakes remain where summer tomatoes grew. Next summer,with the cooperation of nature and human hands tilling, renewing and enriching the soil,they will once again be heavy with ripe tomatoes. Canning fruits and vegetables became more common in the American kitchen in efforts to let the garden feed the family.

In another garden, summer finds cabbages, garlic and foods that represent the cultures of the immigrants that came to America and to this area of the seacoast.

The shadows grow longer as the afternoon passes. On our way out of Strawbery Banke we stop for a few moments, we each make note of this garden entrance. How inviting it must be on a warm summer day to rest on the benches beneath a cover of shady green. This is the entrance to the Heritage Orchard, where heirloom apples are being grown.
I think we will return next summer to see what this all looks like then, and return home to our garden with a few ideas.
May I suggest taking along a sketchbook or notebook on your visit.

For information on the historic gardens click on: Strawbery Bank Gardens

The museum offers programs on traditional recipes cooking including hearth cooking, as well as use and preservation of heirloom produce. For information on these interesting demonstrations and programs, click on:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate seeing our gardens through the eyes of appreciative artists! Thank you for your wonderful post. John Forti